The proud news came from conservationist Yokyok “Yoki” Hadiprakarsa who for his dedication to preserve endangered ivory hornbills in Indonesia. For his contribution, Yoki was awarded the 2020 Whitley Award from the UK or also known as the Green Oscar. Yoki was selected for the Saving The Last Stronghold of the Helmeted Hornbill program, a program run by the Hornbills of Indonesia, the Terrestrial Research and Conservation Unit of the Nusantara Foundation Record, which focuses its activities on research and conservation of hornbills in Indonesia.
This award is very important for the conservation of ivory hornbills in Indonesia, the largest habitat, and population for this magnificent bird. However, on the other hand, it is also the largest source of illegal trade hunting in the world.
“I personally feel proud to receive this award, but I am only as an intermediary to ensure the conservation of hornbill continues to run in Indonesia,” he said.
Through this award, Yoki with the Indonesian Hornbills team will continue to work to build positive relations between hornbills and communities who live side by side with hornbills through hornbill bird observation ecotourism programs.
In an investigation report, he made, in 2013 there were 6,000 ivory hornbills that were shot and decapitated for beak and head ornaments, and sold on the international black market.
To preserve ivory hornbills, Yoki and Hornbills of Indonesia train local residents to monitor hornbill habitats and initiate ecotourism.
Ivory hornbills are endangered species and are listed as Critically Endangered due to illegal wildlife trade. As the most hunted hornbill species in the world, intricate carved ornaments from balung and ivory hornbill are now highly sought after on the international black market.
To preserve hornbills, Yoki collaborates with local communities through the economic empowerment of citizens, which encourages the emergence of participatory research activities, namely observation of hornbills and nest habitats, and birdwatching ecotourism services.
Yoki believes that this activity will enable local people to earn income from hornbills in a humane and sustainable way. In the sustainable conservation paradigm, hornbills will be more valuable in living conditions than dead.
For the Dayak community, native to the island of Borneo, hornbills are sacred species. In the realm of Dayak mythology, hornbills are the guardians of life and will be intermediaries to deliver the spirits of people who have died to God.
“During my thesis research in Sumatra, I first heard the laugh of an ivory hornbill when it flew over me. At that time I immediately fell in love, “explained Yoki explaining the beginning of his introduction to hornbills.
As the Whitley award winner, Yoki received £ 40,000 to be used to continue her hornbill conservation project.
With this fund, he will continue community empowerment efforts in three villages in West Kalimantan for the next five years. In this initiative, there will be 100 local residents, who are trained to conduct bird watching. At the end of the program, the capacity of local communities is expected to increase, they will act as forest guards, hornbill monitors and nest habitats, in order to prevent poaching.