The Plight of the Forest
Palawan hornbills (Source: Wikimedia)

Note: Each night at El Nido Miniloc Resort we were given a one page story that sought to educate us, in a fun way, about the fragile environment we live in, how we impact it, and what we can do to minimize or eliminate the negative impacts. These stories are very touching and helpful. The one on coral was the first of two we wanted to share (click to read it); this one is about forest birds.

Palawan hornbills (Source: Wikimedia)
Palawan hornbills (Source: Wikimedia)

Kali wove expertly among the trees, intent on finding fruit for his mate Mayumi who was busy sitting on their eggs. He was meeting his three children in a week! A Palawan hornbill couldn’t be more excited.

As he flew upwards into the canopy, he couldn’t help but wonder at the circumstances that had brought him to this point. He’d heard that his cousins in the other parts of the mainland had trouble finding mates because there were so few in their area. He was grateful that he didn’t have that problem here in El Nido. In fact, he had to fend off several of Mayumi’s other suitors. Not that he could fault them of course. How could any male resist those gray-brown eyes? He thought those eyes were the same color as a juicy lizard and he told Mayumi so. That was definitely the turning point in our courtship, he mused. That and the fruit he’d fed her. She’d chosen him and he found the perfect nesting hole for them – dry, roomy, and high up in a tree. They’d first spent their days foraging for food – in addition to their usual fruit, they ate insects, frogs, crustaceans, and even small rodents. After all, they were going to have children soon and needed to keep their strength up.

From the high perch he was now on, Kali could see both his nesting tree in the distance and the fruit trees near the forest edge that he needed to visit. He knew Mayumi liked those big red fruits and he’d do his best to get them for her. She would have come with him to get the big fruits but since she’d lain their eggs, they’d divided their duties. Mayumi was locked up in their nesting hole with only a small space for her beak, and it was her job to sit on the eggs all the time. In the meantime, it was Kali’s job to feed Mayumi.

Just as he was about to fly off towards the fruit trees, high-pitched whines pierced the silence of the forest. This was his first time to actually hear the noise but he’d heard the stories from his cousins. That noise heralded loss – the loss of a nesting tree and the loss of a family. Those whines were the whines of chainsaws. What are they doing here? They shouldn’t be here!

El Nido is a protected area! He quickly turned towards the sound, his heart nearly stopping when he realized that the sound was coming from somewhere near their nesting tree. He took flight, flapping his wings like never before, even though he knew that it was hopeless. He was too far away and the chainsaws, as he’d been told repeatedly, were simply too fast.

Kali could hear the whines, deepening in pitch as the chainsaws bit into the base of their nesting tree. In his head, he could hear Mayumi’s squawks of terror as her world started tilting around her. In his head, he could hear his unborn children crying out for their father. He wasn’t going to make it He could only watch in dumbfounded terror as his nesting tree – his world – was felled by two pieces of machinery and the humans who wielded them. He knew his life would never be the same.

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