A wildlife photographer who has been observing and documenting these birds for the last 15 years introduces us to the species with the help of a gorgeous set of photographs
Prakash Ramakrishnan | Nikhil Sreekandan
A female Great Hornbill feeds on the fruit of Ficus virens as a Plum-headed Parakeet flies past, at Valparai, Tamil Nadu.
I was at the wheel when the vehicle took a hairpin turn and we were suddenly greeted by the thunder of a hundred wings. Right below us was a ficus tree from which, upon hearing our approaching vehicle, around 50-60 Great Hornbills took off against the low-lying mist. Even though I was unable to photograph it, the scene is seared into my memory like it was yesterday.
Working with the Netflix Our Planet team, I along with the rest of the crew visited the location the following morning and we were able to capture footage and images of about 13-15 of these majestic birds in flight.
My love affair with the Great Hornbill or Great Pied Hornbill started before I ever picked up a camera. It was during 2005-6 when I was part of a census in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. I had spent the night at the Anali Estate in Valparai, and I was swept off my feet by the unexpected (for me) sighting of a Great Hornbill congregation. It was love at first sight, and I just kept going back to watch these black, white and yellow avians. Once I started shooting them, I never stopped.
Fast forward 15 years and nothing has changed, they still have my utter devotion and I've truly lost count of the number of hours I have spent observing and documenting the Great Hornbill. Here, through some of my best images, I would like to introduce you to the species and its behaviour.
Prakash Ramakrishnan is a builder based in Coimbatore. He is passionate about trekking and the outdoors, which has fuelled his interest in photography for the past 12 years. Of all the wild places he has travelled to, he is particularly drawn to Corbett National Park. He posts as @prakash_sara on Instagram.
Nikhil Sreekandan is a journalist with the desire to explore life through the stories he chases. An engineer who found recluse in the world of words, he is a journalism post-graduate from Cardiff University. Currently working as a Content Editor at Nature inFocus, he is also the co-founder of INKLINE, an international media platform focused on solutions journalism. You can connect with him @nikhil_2992 on Twitter.