Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Vulnerable because it is assumed to have a small population which is suspected to be in decline, owing to ongoing hunting and habitat loss, exacerbated by the impacts of war and refugees. Surveys suggest that large areas within its range are unoccupied, implying that the population is divided into small subpopulations.
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals. In 2004-2005, fieldwork in Salonga National Park gave a sighting rate of one individual every 9.03 km.
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to habitat loss and hunting pressure, the latter of which appears to be higher than expected (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2007). Future declines will depend in part on negotiations on the future level of forest exploitation (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2007).
Afropavo congensis occurs in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Research in 1993-1995 confirmed its presence in 13 out of 20 survey areas, although it was not abundant in any. This work also identified new sites that significantly extend the species's range north-east into the Ituri Forest (Hart and Upoki 1997). Subsequently, it was also located north of the Lomako river and along the Yekokora river (Dupain and van Krunkelsven 1996), as well as further south between the Lukenie and Sankuru rivers (Thompson 1996). Forest between the Lomami and Congo rivers may also hold significant concentrations, but information from that area remains limited (Hart and Upoki 1997).
It occurs in many different forest types but is often associated with slopes between watersheds with shallow soils supporting dry forest with an open understorey (Hart and Upoki 1997). The species appears to prefer high canopy and litter cover (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2007). Its sparse and irregular distribution may correspond in part to the limited availability of this habitat type (Hart and Upoki 1997). The species is not restricted solely to primary forest, old secondary forest adjacent to primary forest is heavily used at least for foraging (Mulotwa et al. 2010). It does not appear to have a specialised diet, and has been recorded eating fruit from common tree species throughout the region (Hart and Upoki 1997), as well as insects and other invertebrates (McGowan 1994, Mulotwa et al. 2006). The breeding season may depend on local rainfall conditions (McGowan 1994). The species occurs at low density; in Salonga National Park a sighting rate of one individual every 9.03km was recorded during 2004/5 (Mulotwa et al. 2010).
Historically, its population was probably reduced by forest clearance and hunting (Lovel undated). Presently, habitat is being lost to mining, subsistence agriculture and logging at several locations (Hart and Upoki 1997). Mining and associated human settlement result in the opening up of remote areas (Hart 1994), with a corresponding increase in subsistence and commercial hunting (Hart and Upoki 1997). Surveys and questionnaires have revealed high hunting pressure in the Kisangani region and around Salonga National Park (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2005). The capture rate of the species for each village in and around the Salonga National Park is around 20 birds per year, and it is usually targeted with wire snares, which are sometimes baited (Mulotwa et al. 2006). Capture in snares set for small mammals and antelope is probably widespread (Hart and Upoki 1997). In addition, the species's eggs are collected (Mulotwa et al. 2007). The presence of guerrilla fighters and huge numbers of Rwandan refugees in the eastern DRC since 1994 also poses a significant threat (Hart and Upoki 1997, P. Garson in litt. 2003) because of increased hunting and habitat loss (N. Burgess in litt. 2003, P. Garson in litt. 2003).
Conservation Actions Underway
The species has been studied in detail at Antwerp Zoo (Belgium) since the start of a breeding programme there in 1962 (Van Bocxstaele undated), including considerable research into its taxonomy (Lovel undated). Captive breeding has also taken place or been attempted at other zoos, although all such efforts have been limited by difficulties such as the species's susceptibility to disease (Lovel undated). The successful conservation of this species may depend on populations in protected areas where there is some possibility that hunting can be limited or banned (Hart and Upoki 1997). Currently, important populations exist in the Maiko and probably also Salonga National Parks, where there is potential for long-term conservation (Hart and Upoki 1997, E. Mulotwa in litt. 2005). It also occurs in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and the Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Hart and Upoki 1997). Several new conservation projects concerning forests within the species range are under development (N. Burgess in litt. 2003) and ecological research is being conducted in Salonga National Park (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2005).
64-70 cm. Shy peafowl with green upperparts. Male has dark bronze-green upperparts and black underparts, short black and dense white, bristly crown, naked red throat. Violet-blue wing-coverts, breast feathers and end of tail feathers. Lead-grey bill and grey feet. Long spur on each leg. Female slightly smaller, rusty-brown with glossy green upperparts and short brown crown. Voice Most frequently heard call a duet with 20-30 repetitions. Male gives high-pitched gowe, female replies with low gowah. Duets usually preceded by loud rro-ho-ho-o-a.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Keane, A., Martin, R, Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Taylor, J., Allinson, T, Symes, A.
Burgess, N., Garson, P., Mulotwa, E., McGowan, P., Keane, A.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Afropavo congensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/01/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/01/2021.