Friday, August 17, 2012

Women behind conservation

As time goes by, I tend to forget all my important agendas that I had in my University. But, it is hard to ignore seminar on Hornbill research addressed by Dr. Pilai Poonswad sometime in 2011. Dr. Pilai is a Professor in Microbiology Department, Mahidol University who consistently strive to conserve big birds in Thailand. She has been honoured “Great Mother of the Hornbills” among other conservationists on this living planet.
Hornbill is one of the world’s most striking bird, with a wingspan of almost 2 meters, feathered in marvelous colors and crowned with a regal casqued on its beak. It is one of the rare species in tropical rain forests of Asia and Africa, and listed as most threatened bird. With other seed-distributing animals, the Hornbill has become fundamental in maintaining the integrity of the forest. Its vital role in seed dispersal of big fruit bearing trees inspired her to embark research particularly on this species. She then established Hornbill Research Foundation in Thailand primarily to raise endowment fund for conservation. 
I belief, it is cruelest part of life to walk away from our loving family, friends and close community which nobody would dare. However, Dr. Pilai did this, sacrificing all her intimates for the sake of conserving Hornbills. She vividly remembers difficulties that she had from being chased away by wild animals besides infestations of ticks and leeches. 
Alike human, Hornbill struggles to find better environment to reproduce and nourish their juveniles. The GPS navigation revealed that, the Hornbills fly long distances in search of safe nest for reproduction. She discovered that, female Hornbill tend to live in sealed nest cavity to reproduce until fledgling could able to survive. She also found that, speedy closing and healing of tree cavities hinders timely reproduction and this remains silent worries for innocent birds. However, now Dr. Pilai is a happiest woman on this planet since her innovation of artificial nest installation proved successful. 
She had numerous challenges to convince people around rural Thailand, especially southern tribes from hunting this bird. Nevertheless, her unique approach “Community Based Hornbill Conservation” proved successful to handover this significant bird to the future generations. This move addressed the ecological problems within the community and country as a whole. Beside, it is best suited to replicate expertise to any other countries to conserve endemic birds that are on the verge of extinction.

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