It is found in lowland and montane, tropical and subtropical climates and in mountain rain forests up to 1,400 metres in Borneo, Sumatra, Java, the Malay Peninsula, Singapore, and southern Thailand. It was dubbed the “flying dinosaur”.
The rhinoceros hornbill is a large arboreal hornbill, 80 to 90 cm (31–35 in) long. The weight varies by sex, with males weighing around 2,465 to 2,960 g (87.0–104.4 oz) and the females 2,040 to 2,330 g (72–82 oz). The plumage is predominately black, with white legs and vent and a white tail with a black band. The huge bill and casque are orange and red, the colour coming from preen oil rubbed on from the preen gland above the tail. The eyes of the male are red with black rims, and white with red rims in the female. The rhinoceros hornbill has a solid, hard horn bill with the same structure as a rhinoceros horn.
The diet of the rhinoceros hornbill is dominated by fruit, but it will take any insect, small reptile, rodent, and smaller birds that it can catch.
The female only lays an egg per year, and when the eggs hatch, the female will only stay in the nest to care for the young until the chicks grow feathers, while the male brings them food.
Some Dayak people, especially the Ibanic groups, believe it to be the chief of worldly birds or the supreme worldly bird, and its statue is used to welcome the god of the augural birds, Sengalang Burong, to the feasts and celebrations of humankind. Contrary to some misunderstandings, the rhinoceros hornbill does not represent their war god, who is represented in this world by the brahminy kite. The rhinoceros hornbill is the state bird of the Malaysian state of Sarawak and the country’s national bird.
The rhinoceros hornbill faces a number of threats, including loss of its rainforest habitat, as well as hunting for its meat, and its skull and feathers. Habitat destruction has led to the loss of the large trees the species requires for breeding, which in turn makes it easier for poachers to find the rhinoceros hornbill. It is frequently shot at by poachers due to confusion with the highly sought-after helmeted hornbill. Due to this, the species was uplisted to vulnerable from near threatened on the IUCN Red List in 2018.
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