In writing Pursuit of the Golden Lily, I wanted to weave a variety of ecological and environmental topics into the narrative. Part of the story takes place in southern Thailand, in what is now the Bang Lang National Park. This vast area of mountainous rainforest straddles the border with Malaysia. On the Malaysian side is the Royal Belum State Park, located in Northern Perak. My research for the book led me to hornbills - prehistoric-looking birds that roam the forests. Both parks are home to several different species of hornbills. Sadly, many species of Thai hornbills are at present near extinction.
A Hornbill Research Team led by Dr. Pilai Poonswad, holding a captured rufous-necked hornbill.
Aside from their obvious unique beauty, hornbills provide a vital service to the forests they inhabit. As far-ranging fruit eaters, they help maintain forest regeneration and biodiversity by dispersing seeds as they 'eat on the fly'. Healthy forests depend on birds like hornbills to maintain diversity of species. Hornbills are poached for a couple of reasons. The first is the pet trade - the chicks are captured then sold. The second is that the appendage on the upper bill, called a casque is a valuable commodity in some societies. Made of a substance called keratin, the casque is sometimes referred to as hornbill ivory and is sought after to be carved into precious objects.
Rhinoceros hornbill: Photo by Tom Murphy VII
Helmeted hornbill: Photo by Doug Janson
We didn't visit Bang Lang National Park on our journey, but we did get to see hornbills when we were at Khao Sok Lake; unfortunately they were too far up in the treetops for me to capture a good photo. We did, however, visit the Royal Belum State Park, which is absolutely beautiful. I'll write more about that in the next post, continuing on the theme of biodiversity and Pursuit of the Golden Lily.
Maintaining biodiversity in all regions of earth is crucial to our own survival. Every tiny insect, yes, even the ubiquitous mosquito that we disdain, has a purpose.
Pursuit of the Golden Lily is available as an eBook and will be on Amazon and Kindle by the time my next post comes around! If this Blog is of interest to you, please do sign up for email notifications. Thanks for stopping by.
You can learn more about hornbills at the following websites.