The Karnataka Forest Department in association with The Tourism Department of Karnataka has organised Hornbill Festival of Dandeli in the sylvan city of Dandeli nestled in the Western Ghats – which is at the heart of habitat of the Hornbills in this region. The Haliyal Forest Division is mandated to protect the 1,09,750 Hectare forest area in Haliyal and Joida Taluks of Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka, thereby conserving the wildlife habitat of this part of Western Ghats. The forests of the Haliyal Division range have Tropical dry deciduous to Tropical evergreen trees providing a diverse habitat for wildlife. Also the Haliyal division has the Kali Tiger Reserve to its south and this division acts as a habitat as well as a buffer for the wildlife including Elephants, Tiger, Leopards, Indian Gaur, Hornbills, etc. In 2011, Government of Karnataka has notified an area of 52.50 sq km falling in Dandeli
and Virnoli ranges as the “Hornbill Conservation Reserve”.
The Hornbill is also a significant part of several tribal cultures and rituals across India. The male and female bodily differences in the bird are also striking. The back of the casque is reddish is females, while the underside of the front and back of the casque black in the males. The wing beats of the birds are heavy and the sound produced by the birds in flight can be heard from a distance. They mainly feed on fruits of Ficus spp, Cinnamomum spp, Myristica spp, Canarium spp and aid in dispersal of seeds through droppings and help in regeneration of important species and thereby earning the apt clepe “Farmers of the forest” or “Feathered foresters”. They also feed on arthropods, lizards, snakes, bat, squirrel etc.
The Hornbill is now placed in the category of endangered and threatened bird species. Successful conservation efforts have been taken up by Karnataka Forest Department with help of conservationists and local people by sensitizing about the importance of these Avian Jewels which are part of our cultural heritage and Biodiversity. To further the cause of conservation efforts- “Hornbill Festival” has been organized from 2nd to 4th of February, 2018 at Forest Rest House premises in Dandeli to draw attention of the world-wide avian lovers to this species and to create awareness to people and sensitizing them about importance of conservation of Hornbills and their habitat.