Besides Valentine’s Day and Makha Bucha, the second most important day of this month in the Buddhist calendar, Thailand has also celebrated “Love Hornbills Day” on February 13 every year since 1997.
The date was chosen to indicate that these birds are monogamous and mate for life. According to legend, female hornbills and chicks will starve if the male mate does not return from the hunt.
One study showed that these birds are key to the ecosystem, as their presence and number are an indicator of the condition and fertility of a forest.
At the last count five years ago, Thailand had 3,000 hornbills, most of which were spotted in the Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Nayok and the Budo Su-ngai Padi National Park in Narathiwat.
The hornbill population in Thailand is declining due to deforestation and hunting. They apparently fetch a high price on the black market because these birds are seen as a “symbol of prestige”.
The birds are covered by the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 1992 and people caught owning, buying or selling these birds could face up to four years in prison and/or a fine of 40,000 baht.
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