Bronx Zoo feathers help save rare birds half a world away

March 26, 2002

NEW YORK (March 26) -- To help save two rare bird species living deep in the jungles of Sarawak, Malaysia, the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) spent two years collecting donations of a different kind from zoos throughout North America. It wasn't money, but tail feathers shed from captive hornbills.

The feathers will be shipped to Sarawak tomorrow, where officials will distribute them to indigenous people for use in traditional headdresses and ceremonies. This will offset the need to hunt rhinoceros and helmeted hornbills, whose populations in the wild have plummeted in recent years.

WCS scientists Drs. Elizabeth Bennett and Christine Sheppard developed this innovative program. Dr. Bennett, who has worked with indigenous people in Sarawak for the past 15 years, collaborated with Sarawak's Council of Customs and Traditions to ensure that using feathers from zoo animals is culturally acceptable.

"By every indication hornbill feathers from zoos are just as acceptable in ceremonies," said Dr. Bennett. The Wildlife Conservation Society has also been supplying painted turkey feathers that indigenous people use in hats and capes, as well as wear on their hands during dances.

"This was a cooperative effort involving 15 accredited zoos across the U.S. to help save these species," said Dr. Sheppard, the Bronx Zoo's Curator of Ornithology. "WCS will continue to work with the zoo community to protect these magnificent birds from extinction." Hornbills are known for their spectacular bony casques attached to the top of their bills. The Bronx Zoo has both rhinoceros and helmeted hornbills in its collection as well as more than a dozen other hornbill species.
Photos Available Electronically

LINDA CORCORAN (718-220-5182;

Wildlife Conservation Society

Related Indigenous People Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Bolsonaro's Indigenous land mining policy a billion-dollar backfire
Research has found a proposal to regulate mining of Indigenous lands in Brazil's Amazon rainforest could affect more than 863,000 square kilometres of forest and harm the nation's economy.

Uncovering the science of Indigenous fermentation
Australian wine scientists are shedding scientific light on the processes underlying traditional practices of Australian Aboriginal people to produce fermented beverages.

Indigenous knowledge still undervalued - study
New research has found that Indigenous knowledge is regularly underutilised and misunderstood when making important environmental decisions.

Indigenous property rights protect the Amazon rainforest
One way to cut back on deforestation in the Amazon rainforest - and help in the global fight against climate change - is to grant more of Brazil's indigenous communities full property rights to tribal lands.

Indigenous people vital for understanding environmental change
Grassroots knowledge from indigenous people can help to map and monitor ecological changes and improve scientific studies, according to Rutgers-led research.

Amazonian Indigenous territories are crucial for conservation
A new study from the University of Helsinki shows that Indigenous territories represent around 45% of all the remaining wilderness areas in the Amazon, comprising an area of three times the surface of Germany.

Weaving Indigenous knowledge with scientific research: a balanced approach
Insights from bicultural research can enhance practical applications from a palaeotsunami database to land-use decisions, according to a new review in Earth Surface Dynamics

Indigenous protection
The global reach of COVID-19 is unquestionable. Every day, news reports highlight the disease's increasing toll on countries and major cities around the world.

Voluntary collective isolation is best response to COVID-19 for indigenous populations
A team of anthropologists, physicians, tribal leaders and local government authorities developed and implemented a multi-phase COVID-19 prevention and containment plan among the Tsimane, an indigenous group in the Bolivian Amazon.

Read More: Indigenous People News and Indigenous People Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to