Thursday, August 5

With Sarawak Day around the corner, zoologist highlights differences between Toco Toucans and Rhinoceros Hornbills

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KUCHING (July 12): With Sarawak Day (July 22) approaching, zoologist Jason Teo has made another effort to raise awareness of how to differentiate between Toco Toucans and Rhinoceros Hornbills.

He observed that many Sarawakians cannot distinguish the Rhinoceros Hornbill, which is the state bird of Sarawak from the Toco Toucan that is not even found in Asia.

In a YouTube video posted on Thursday, Teo, who is a member of the Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch (MNSKB) and also part of its research team, said Toco Toucans and Rhinoceros Hornbill are very far apart in terms of taxonomy and geography.

According to Teo, the Rhinoceros Hornbill and Toco Toucans cannot even be found in the same continent.

He shared with viewers three ways to distinguish the Rhinoceros Hornbills from the Toco Toucans – by looking at the throat, the beak and the eye of the two bird species.

“The Toco Toucans have white throats, whereas the Rhinoceros Hornbill’s throat is all black.

“Rhinoceros Hornbills have casques, an enlarged bulk or horn at the upper part of beak. Toco Toucans do not have a casque,” he pointed out.

Teo said Toco Toucans have marine blue eyes while Rhinoceros Hornbills have either red or white eyes.

He added: “Male Rhinoceros Hornbills have red eyes while female Rhinoceros Hornbills have white eyes.”

With such knowledge, he hoped that Sarawakians will eventually learn to differentiate the two bird species.

He was, however, delighted to notice that fewer Sarawakians had used the Great Hornbills and Toco Toucan to represent Sarawak this year.

He hoped that more and more Malaysians will learn how to identify the Rhinoceros Hornbills with heightened awareness.

“Toco Toucans are found in the continent of South America while the Rhinoceros Hornbills are found in Asia. According to Birdlife International, Toco Toucans are still ‘least concern’ while the Rhinoceros Hornbills are ‘vulnerable’.

“However, the population of both species are declining,” Teo added.