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Rhinoceros Hornbill

Staging site


©HUTAN/Felicity Oram

©Rob Colgan




Scientific Name: Buceros rhinoceros

IUCN Red List status: Near Threatened

Protected by the following WLT projects:


Borneo Rainforest, Malaysia


Species Range (IUCN)


The Rhinoceros Hornbill has a prominent golden-yellow horn, called a casque, on the top of its beak. The casque is a hollow structure composed of keratin (the same material that human fingernails are made of) and acts as a resonating chamber, amplifying the bird’s calls.

They have black feathers on their wings and body and their tail feathers are white. Both male and female Rhinoceros Hornbills are similar in appearance, but the male birds have an orange or red ring around their eyes, while females have a white ring.

For some of the native Dayak groups of Borneo, the Rhinoceros Hornbill represents the chief of the birds and it is the state bird for the Malaysian state of Sarawak.


Rhinoceros Hornbills feed mainly on fruits and insects, but may also prey on small reptiles, rodents and smaller birds.

Like other hornbills, the adult Rhinoceros Hornbills form breeding pairs and exhibit peculiar nesting habits. The pair build a nest in a hollow tree and seal the opening with mud, faeces and food remains  - with the female inside. Only a small hole is left, through which the male passes the female regurgitated food, while the female incubates the eggs.


The Rhinoceros Hornbill is confined to forests of peninsular Malaysia and the islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo.

Threats and Conservation

Hornbills are threatened by both hunting and habitat loss. They may be hunted for food and traditional medicines. Various parts, particularly the feathers, beak and casque, are used in costumes and rituals. Rhinoceros Hornbills are found in only the highest form of rainforest.

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