Justification of Red List Category
This pheasant remains classified as Critically Endangered following revisions of its taxonomic limits, because the lack of recent records suggest that the remaining wild population is likely to be extremely small and severely fragmented, with all subpopulations tiny. Declines have been driven by high levels of hunting pressure and lowland forest deterioration. Further surveys are urgently needed to identify and protect any remaining populations.
The complete lack of records since 2000 suggests that any remaining wild population is now tiny (S. Mahood in litt. 2012), and it has even been suggested that the species may already be extinct in the wild. In the absence of better data the population is placed here in the band 50-249 mature individuals. Any remaining subpopulations are likely to be extremely small and declining.
The species is suspected to be declining rapidly from a combination of hunting and habitat loss given that virtually all forest habitat within its range has now been lost and remaining fragments remain under intense pressure.
Lophura edwardsi is endemic to central Vietnam. Known historically from four provinces (Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue), it was described as locally fairly common. Individuals were recorded near to the Phong My Commune, Thua Thien Hue, and also near the Huong Hiep Commune, Quang Tri (Le Trong Trai et al. 1999). Several other individuals were found in the Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue Provinces, but the last confirmed recent record was in 2000, where one male was confiscated from a hunter and held in captivity in the Hai Lang District Forest Protection Department, Quang Tri. Between 1964 and 1994 there were >30 records of the species with another record in 1999 (R. Safford in litt. 2015). In 2009 a possible female was recorded near Hai Van Pass, but there are doubts about the identification (A. Hennache in litt. 2012). In 2011 dedicated camera-trap surveys for the species in two relatively undisturbed sites, Khe Nuoc Trong Watershed Protection Forest, Quang Binh and Dakrong Nature Reserve, Quang Tri failed to record the species (Le Trong Trai in litt. 2012). L. 'hatinhensis', previously described as a species, is actually a mutation of L. edwardsi that has been observed at either end of, and within the known range of L. edwardsi (Hennache et al. 2012, J. Eames in litt. 2012). The occurrence of birds showing inbred characteristics since the 1960s, and the lack of any recent records of typical is an indication that remaining populations are extremely small, fragmented and declining.
It was said to inhabit exceedingly damp mountain forests up to an estimated 600 m, favouring thick underbrush and lianas. However, all early collecting localities were in the forested level lowlands, and there is no evidence that it can live above 300 m. It is most abundant in areas with thick undergrowth and liana covered hillsides (N. Brickle in litt. 2004). Records in the 1990s came from lowland areas which have been selectively logged (N. Brickle in litt. 2004).
Its historical range is now almost completely denuded of primary forest through a combination of herbicide spraying during the Vietnam war, logging and clearance for agriculture. The last forest areas known to support the species are subject to continuing degradation by wood-cutters. Small patches of very humid forest embedded in a matrix of unsuitable forest are only likely to maintain their high humidity values when large areas of forest remain intact. Forest fragmentation in the hills above the now deforested coastal plain has been more intense than forest loss, but is likely to have caused an overall drying of the forest which might have rendered formerly suitable patches of forest unsuitable (S. Mahood in litt. 2012). Whilst the species has been recorded in degraded habitats, it is uncertain whether the species is able to persist in such conditions the long term (W. Duckworth in litt. 2012). Hunting pressure from various forest-product collectors poses a major threat and the species may be affected by indiscriminate snaring (N. Brickle in litt. 2004). Although galliformes can withstand extremely high levels of trapping (Brickle et al. 2008), they can be locally eliminated. Because trapping is indiscriminate and targeted at more resilient species of ground-dwelling birds such as Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus it continues when numbers of other species such as Edwards’s Pheasant are severely reduced and uneconomically viable as a single species harvest. Through this mechanism populations can be trapped to local extinction (BirdLife International 2001).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. Surveys for the species were conducted in 1988, 1991 and 2011. The localities from which the most recent records derive have been incorporated within two proposed nature reserves, Phong Dien and Dakrong, for which a management feasibility study has been completed. A Site Support Group has been established for Dakrong IBA (Quang Tri province) and there are plans for one at Huong Hoa IBA (Quang Tri province) (J. Eames in litt. 2004), where Bach Huong Hoa Nature Reserve was proposed. Bach Ma National Park lies within the historical range of the species, and a poster campaign to obtain local information was conducted there in 1996, although as yet there have been no confirmed records from this park. In December 2003, the captive population numbered 1,033 individuals (A. Hennache in litt. 2004). The maternal line has been screened and hybrids purged from the captive stock (A. Hennache in litt. 2004). Further camera-trapping surveys were planned to take place at Truong Son forest enterprise and Phong Dien NR (and an adjacent area in Hai Lang district), Quang Tri, in early 2012 (Tuan Anh Pham in litt. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Use remote sensing to classify forest according to humidity in order to identify potentially suitable areas for the species within the remaining forest matrix (Mahood et al. in prep.). Conduct further surveys of remaining forest fragments within and to the north of its historical range using camera trapping and specially trained dogs (Mahood et al. in prep.), particularly at Dakrong and in Thua Thien Hue province, to clarify its status and ecological requirements. Establish the proposed Phong Dien and Dakrong Nature Reserves and enhance Site Support Groups Promote careful management of captive Vietnamese Lophura pheasants through the ISB system, and regularly review ex-situ measures until their taxonomic relationships are clarified. Prepare a landscape level management plan to redress genetic problems caused by habitat fragmentation and establish effective habitat protection. Assess the level and impact of hunting and campaign for its control, starting with complete cessation in protected areas holding the species. Conduct research to establish the feasibility and effects of using forest corridors to connect forest fragments.
58-65 cm. Blue-black pheasant (male) with short, shaggy white crest and red facial skin. Female uniform cold greyish-brown with warmer tinged wings and blackish tail with brown central feathers. Juvenile (both sexes) resembles female but females may have black spots/bars on mantle, scapulars and wing-coverts, males show patches of adult plumage. Similar spp. Like Vietnamese Pheasant L. hatinhensis, which is likely to be conspecific, but male lacks white tail feathers. Voice Alarm call is low guttural uk uk uk uk uk.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Keane, A., Symes, A., Martin, R, Taylor, J. & Ashpole, J
Brickle, N., Eames, J.C., Garson, P., Grainger, M., Hennache, A., Mahood, S., Pilgrim, J., Savini, T., Tordoff, A.W., Trai, L., Thai, P., Trung, K., Pham, T.A., Duckworth, W. & Safford, R.
BirdLife International (2018) Species factsheet: Lophura edwardsi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/01/2018. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2018) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/01/2018.