Roving reporter Emilie interviewed Awesome Ranti the Helmeted Hornbill from her nest in the Borneo Rainforest.
I am one of the oldest birds that ever existed. I look so beautiful with my bright red beak and majestic casque that sits on the front of my head. It's like a helmet or tusk, my own kind of ivory.
My head is so heavy it’s amazing I can even fly. So I really need to prepare before flying. Which is why sometimes I have to bounce on branches, like a spring, trying to take off. Often I miss and crash down.
Cool Cats in my Hood
I live in a beautiful place called the Borneo Rainforest. My family and I hang out in tall dipterocarp trees, rising 30 meters above sea level. From this vantage point I can observe all that is going on in the rainforest. I see everything, every movement, and every animal that climbs the trees. And when I notice the branches shaking I know who’s coming.
We have lots of mysterious animals in my hood. The sun bears are always searching for honey. They climb to the top of our trees and open up holes to get to their honey-food. We’re grateful to them as we use these holes to make our nests. The sun bears are fun to watch. One moment they’re at the top of a tree and then they start falling, tuk, tuk, tuk. And hit the ground and start running.
I also watch the clouded leopards sneak up our trees. They’re so majestic, a cool kind of cat. But we’re high up enough that they can’t reach us.
Singing and Swinging
I love the gibbons. They’re so nice. They wake up at the same time that my husband goes looking for food. They sing in the morning and at sunset and make a lot of noise but it's so beautiful because they sing in a group.
They also swing from tree to tree in a group, using their special wrists that allow them to swing fast. It's like a game for them. I would like to play with them but they're very naughty. They eat squirrels and things like that, so I keep away. Still, I enjoy myself, watching their playful games and funny behaviour.
My fragile future
Normally I have two eggs but this year because of competition for food, I only managed to breed one child successfully.
I’ve sealed the opening to our nest because I want my baby to stay protected. There is just a tiny hole big enough for my husband Rangga to fit his beak. And tuk, tuk, he passes through lovely juicy ficus tree fruits.
Right now I'm moulting, shedding all of my feathers to keep the nest warm. So I can’t fly out and therefore depend on my mate to survive. So imagine what happens if he doesn’t show up for a day.
Ranti the Helmeted Hornbill speaks
It’s so challenging for Rangga to find food nowadays because the rainforest is threatened by illegal loggers. Plus, there are others who hunt us for our casques to use for decorations. I don't know why.
I’m feeling so sad. I'm losing my neighbours and my friends. I'm so worried about the future of my children. Because everyday we live in danger. We’re one step away from extinction.
Ranti was interpreted by
Indah Sartika Sari, a passionate conservationist who says, “The Helmeted Hornbill is a totally amazing species at the heart of the forest ecosystem. They’re known as the ‘farmers of the rainforest’ because they spread seeds of the ficus, a tree that is not able to repopulate itself. And these trees provide an important source of food for many different species.”
Indah first met Ranti when she spent six months in the Borneo Rainforest doing a survey on the behaviour and breeding habits of the endangered female hornbill.
Indah says to Ranti
Being aware of biodiversity is the key. Once people are aware I believe the Borneo Rainforest can have a future.
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Indah was invited by Ameyalli Hernández Márquez whom she met on the way to the beach and they decided to go swimming together.
Cover photo edited. Original by Indah Sartika Sari.