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Ammu the Mascot
The Great Hornbill, or the Great Indian Hornbill, the State bird of Kerala, is the official Mascot of the 35th National Games. The selection of the Great Hornbill as the Games Mascot reflects our concern for conservation; this is a species facing extinction. It is also an expression of the need to preserve Kerala's rain forests and regenerate the lost habitat of this precious bird.
The Kerala Chief Minister Shri Oommen Chandy named our Mascot ‘Ammu’ on 21st June, 2013, during the International Olympic Day celebrations at Thiruvananthapuram. The choice of a feminine name for the Mascot is a tribute to the women of Kerala and is a reminder that Kerala is proud to have a gender ratio which is tilted in favour of women - the only State in India that can claim that honour.
About the Great Hornbill
The Great Hornbill, Buceros bicornis also known as Great Indian Hornbill, is found in the evergreen forests of Kerala and also in other parts of Western India, Indochina, south of Malaya and Sumatra.
In case you have not seen a Great Hornbill in your local zoo, imagine a rather big bird, which can grow to a length of 4.5 feet (1.4m), that’s almost the height of an average Indian female. The body is covered with black feathers and the wing tips have a ban of white feathers. The tail, sometimes reaching up to 3 feet (7.6cm), is white with bans of black feathers across. There is a circle of fur around its neck. The bill is the most distinctive feature of the Great Hornbill: it’s yellow, massive, curved downward, and with a bright yellow and black enlargement on top of it. The bill enlargement or casque is hollow with little functions although they are believed to be the result of sexual selection. Male hornbills have been known to indulge in aerial casque butting flights. Females are smaller than males and have blue instead of red eyes. They usually have short legs, but have broad feet. They are the largest members of the hornbill family.
Indian hornbills are mainly fruit eaters but also actively hunt and eat insects, lizards, snakes and even nesting birds. Great Indian Hornbills like to eat various types of berries. Hornbills swallow most of their food whole instead of breaking it down first. After they consume the food, they'll regurgitate what they cannot digest such as bones, and pits.
Female hornbills build nests in hollows of large tree trunks. She remains imprisoned in her nest until the chicks are semi-developed relying on the male to bring her food. During this period the female undergoes a complete molt. The clutch consists of one or two eggs she incubates for 38-40 days.
Indian hornbills are rare and considered as under the threat of extinction. These birds are hunted in India for food and medicine. In Kerala the main threat is the destruction of their habitat. Due to ongoing habitat loss and hunting in some areas, the Great Hornbill is evaluated as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES.