The Edwards’s Pheasant is a rather smart blue-black member of the pheasant family and it may be on the edge of extinction. It has recently been reclassified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List; this category is reserved for only the most threatened species in the world. It has not been seen in its small home range in central Vietnam since around 2000. Conservationists searched intensively in 2011 but found none. If this bird did become extinct, it would be the first pheasant species to have been lost in the 400 years since proper records began.
Edward’s Pheasant courtesy & copyright Tom Friedel
This is an acute concern for the World Pheasant Association (WPA), whose mission is to safeguard all the 286 species in the pheasant group. Concern for the future of this species is such that the WPA and BirdLife International-Vietnam Programme are working together to organize immediate action. Leading scientists, conservationists and aviculturalists from Europe and South-east Asia met at Walsrode in Germany recently to formulate a rescue plan. The most pressing need is for intensive surveys in the bird’s native habitat, to maximise chances of locating any remaining populations in the wild. This will be an all-out effort, drawing in any other conservationists and field-workers active in the area, to widen the search using all available resources.
Aviculturalists may provide another way to help bring Edwards’s Pheasant back from the brink; birds they already hold in captive collections could serve a vital role. If the threats to the species in the wild (hunting and habitat loss) are significantly reduced, a captive-bred population could be re-introduced, if agreed as part of an overall recovery strategy. The EAZA Galliformes Taxon Advisory Group, with help from the European Conservation Breeding Group of WPA, are paving the way for this to happen by initially identifying a pure group of unrelated birds from which to breed.
World Pheasant Association (WPA) is a UK registered charity (271203) dedicated to promoting biodiversity conservation by ensuring the survival of those species of pheasants and related birds (the Galliformes), that are important to humans globally. Through their interest in these species, they work to maintain their natural habitats and the cultural values and livelihoods of communities that depend on them. Funds are needed to support the survey work planned for Edward’s Pheasant, please contact Laura Owens, WPA Conservation Officer if you can help at firstname.lastname@example.org