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Better protection sought for Thailand's helmeted hornbill

BANGKOK (AP) — Conservationists say time is running out for Thailand's dwindling population of helmeted hornbills thanks to poaching of the exotic birds for the ivory-like casques atop their big yellow beaks.

Fewer than 100 of the birds are thought to be left in Thailand, and the species, known by the scientific name Rhinoplax vigil, is listed as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Worries over its survival intensified after the wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC posted photos online of dozens of skulls of the endangered avian for sale. Thai conservation groups have launched a campaign on the change.org online petition site to pressure the government to add the bird to the country's Wildlife Preservation List as soon as possible. Nineteen other species are currently on the list.

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