Pilai Poonswad

2006 Laureate, Environment
Thailand, Born 1946


Project Goal

Save threatened hornbills and their habitat in Thailand

Location: Thailand

"I convinced them to turn their forest knowledge into skills as research assistants and eco-tour guides."

After rediscovering a species of hornbill thought to be extinct in Thailand’s ravaged rainforests, microbiologist Pilai Poonswad set about turning former poachers and illegal loggers into protectors of these glorious birds and their precarious habitat. Her 1997 plan for city families to “adopt” hornbill nests to fund the work has brought remarkable changes in community attitudes towards conservation. For her unstinting dedication to hornbills worldwide, particularly in southern Thailand, Pilai is today revered as the “Great mother of the Hornbills”.


amount, in US dollars, wealthy Thai city families pay to "adopt" a hornbill family for a year


hornbill species in Thailand, out of 31 in all of Asia


wingspan of the hornbill, in metres

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