Chestnut-headed Partridge Arborophila cambodiana


Justification of Red List Category
This partridge is listed as Least Concern because, despite its small range and suspected modest population declines, habitat remains contiguous through large parts of its range and it is not believed to approach any of the thresholds for classification as Vulnerable. The impacts of selective logging do not appear to be adverse and the extent of clear-felling within its altitudinal range is low.

Population justification
An increase in ornithological surveys within Cambodia has revealed that extensive areas of suitable habitat appear to support this species at relatively high densities. Hence its population estimate has been revised upwards considerably and is probably best placed within the band 20,000-50,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species is thought to be decreasing owing to habitat encroachment and the ongoing loss of forest, particularly in Cambodia. However, it is unlikely to be adversely affected by selective logging, and large parts of its range will avoid exploitation in the near future owing to areas of uncleared landmines.

Distribution and population

Arborophila cambodiana is endemic to south-east Thailand (subspecies diversa) and the Cardamom mountains of south-west Cambodia (subspecies cambodiana and the recently described chandamonyi (Eames et al. 2002)). In Thailand, it is known from Khao Sabap, within the Namtok Phliu National Park, and Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, with just three confirmed recent records, all from Khao Soi Dao (the last in 2000 (Carroll 2001)). In Cambodia cambodiana appears to be relatively common above 200-300 m throughout the Cardamon Mountains (C. Samnang in litt. 2004). The newly described sub-species chamdamonyi is known only from the Samkos Range of the Cardamom Mountains. The Thailand population is thought to number 100-200 individuals, but in Cambodia it occurs at relatively high densities in several thousand km2 of essentially unfragmented habitat above the 200 m contour (S. Browne in litt. 2007, T. Evans in litt. 2007). Hence its global population likely falls within the band 20,000-50,000 individuals.


It is presumed resident in evergreen forest on slopes and plateaus, and has also been recorded in open areas. It is generally found in mountains from 700-1,400 m in Thailand, and on plateaux (up to 1,000 m) in Cambodia, although it has been recorded down to 300 m and 400 m in both countries, and 200 m in Cambodia (S. Browne in litt. 2004, C. Samnang in litt. 2004). It commonly forms groups of 5-6, although up to 30 individuals have been observed together. The diet includes ants, termites and other invertebrates which are obtained by scratching in the leaf-litter (C. Samnang in litt. 2004). It has been observed feeding in rice-paddies in the foothills between November and January (C. Samnang in litt. 2004).


In Cambodia, logging and hunting are probably the most significant threats. Both Bokor and Kirirom National Parks are subject to heavy (mostly clandestine) logging, which has affected an estimated 80% of Bokor. However, the species is unlikely to be adversely affected by selective logging and large areas of suitable habitat remain essentially unfragmented (S. Browne in litt. 2007, T. Evans in litt. 2007). In Thailand, selective logging and small-scale forest encroachment are minor threats. Levels of hunting are high in areas where the species occurs but this may have neglible impact on species with high breeding productivity like Arborophila partridges (P. Davidson in litt. 2003). The use of poisons for fishing in forest streams (C. Samnang in litt. 2004), disturbance through occasional dry-season fires and perhaps the local avicultural trade may be additional threats. Although most forest within the species's range has escaped severe fragmentation to date, there is potential for relatively rapid clearance in the future and this will remain a potential threat (S. Browne in litt. 2007).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is afforded full legal protection in both Thailand and Cambodia. It occurs within Namtok Phliu National Park and Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand. In the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia, the species is protected in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary, Central Cardamom Protected Forest, Southwest Elephant Corridor and the Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary (S. Browne in litt. 2004, C. Samnang in litt. 2004). It also occurs in Bokor and probably Kirirom National Parks, Cambodia. Political instability and uncleared landmines in Cambodia have made conservation difficult, but surveys have been carried out and further research is planned. The World Pheasant Association and Forestry Administration of the Cambodian Government have established a Cambodian Galliformes Conservation Programme (S. Browne in litt. 2004). Bird tours and individuals regularly visit Bokor National Park to search for this species, generating revenue for the species's conservation.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Promote public awareness of the species's conservation and protected status in Thailand and Cambodia. Lobby for a moratorium on logging throughout the Cardamom Range, including Bokor and Kirirom National Parks, Cambodia. Identify and implement management requirements for the species within protected areas in Cambodia, especially Bokor National park and Phnom Aural. Encourage community-based conservation groups at key sites. Monitor the Khao Soi Dao population. Monitor, potentially using remote satellite technologies, forest cover in the Cardamon Mountains. Investigate the species's ecology, in particular sensitivity to habitat degradation and disturbance, and altitudinal distribution.


28 cm. Distinctive partridge with mostly plain chestnut head. Similar spp. Markedly different to any other partridge occurring within its range. The extralimital Bar-backed Partridge A. brunneopectus has similar upperparts but is typically less heavily marked with black. Voice Said to recall A. brunneopectus, which gives a rapid series of loud brr notes, leading up to separate series of wi-wu couplets (with stressed first note).


Text account compilers
Davidson, P., Benstead, P., Keane, A., Bird, J.

Evans, T., Tordoff, J., Samnang, C., Davidson, P., Duckworth, W., Browne, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Arborophila cambodiana. Downloaded from on 24/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/03/2023.