WWF’s first mural project raises awareness about hornbill conservation

Teachers, students and WWF-Malaysia members posing for a photo with the mural in the background.

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KUCHING, Aug 23: World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF) Malaysia Sarawak Conservation Programme took on its first mural painting project at Chung Hua Middle School (CHMS) No.3 here recently to create awareness on species conservation.

A joint effort between WWF Malaysia and CHMS No.3, 15 people comprising of WWF-Malaysia staff and interns, teachers, local artistes and students from the school painted the mural from Aug 13 to 15.

A media release today from WWF Malaysia revealed that the 8.5m-wide by 2.6m-high mural features four species of hornbills – rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), white-crowned hornbill (Berenicornis comatus), wreathed hornbill (Aceros undulatus) and wrinkled hornbill (Aceros corrugatus).

WWF Malaysia said that the idea of highlighting these birds in the mural stems from WWF-Malaysia’s aim to create an appreciation for the beauty, grace and wonder of these awesome birds in Sarawak.

“Hornbills are also one of the animal groups targeted in the organisation’s conservation work in the state.”

Teachers, students and WWF-Malaysia members paining the hornbills mural.

WWF Malaysia pointed out that only eight hornbill species could be found in Sarawak and they were categorised as totally protected species under the Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.

“Our hornbills are threatened by hunting, especially for their feathers as cultural headgear and attire in ethnic culture. Such hunting was especially rampant in the past. Even up to this day, these birds continue to be poached for the illegal wildlife trade.”

“Hornbills are also threatened by habitat loss due to developments and conversion of forests to other non-forest land uses.”

WWF Malaysia highlighted that globally in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, hornbills have been listed as threatened species, with rhinoceros and wreathed hornbills listed as vulnerable while the white-crowned and wrinkled hornbills as endangered.

WWF-Malaysia International Climate Initiative Project manager Cynthia Chin said hornbills are iconic species in Sarawak as without their existence, the state might lose her unique identity which is highly associated with these majestic birds.

One of the teachers together with a WWF-Malaysia member painting the hornbills mural.

“Therefore, WWF-Malaysia sees mural painting or street art as an opportunity to create awareness to the public on the importance of conserving wildlife in Sarawak,” she added..

“We want to create a positive impression towards these magnificent birds, in the hope that it will trigger positive actions from members of the public, and influence the authorities, as well as decision makers, to come up with a common roadmap in conservation where the health of nature, well-being of people and future of our planet are all linked together locally and globally,” she added.

Chin pointed out that a new deal for nature is needed now because WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 revealed that, at global level, nature continues to degrade, with devastating effects for wildlife and the planet.

The report also revealed that the global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have decreased by an average of 60 per cent between 1970 and 2014.

She also thanked CHMS No.3 for its support in the mural project as well as local artist Jacinta Chan and a retired biologist teacher and arts teacher Kho Thong Soon for their technical and artistic guidance.

“We hope that through students and teachers direct involvement in the mural project, it will be an inspiration and motivation for them to help conserve our forests and wildlife. Hopefully the message is passed on to their friends and parents outside of school,” she said.

“We plan to paint a few more murals in the state featuring other threatened species like the sun bear, pangolin and orangutan and civet, and hopefully schools, building owners and authorities concerned will be supportive of our efforts,” she added.— DayakDaily