Justification of Red List Category
This spectacular pheasant is undoubtedly suffering from the twin threats of habitat loss and hunting throughout its extensive range. It is probably undergoing a moderately rapid population reduction and is consequently classified as Near Threatened.
The total population is estimated to number more than 100,000 individuals.
There are no data on population trends; however, the species is suspected to be in decline at a moderately rapid rate, owing to hunting and habitat loss.
Argusianus argus is confined to the Sundaic lowlands, where it is recorded from south Tenasserim, Myanmar, peninsular and south-west Thailand, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, Brunei (extirpated from many areas), Kalimantan and Sumatra, Indonesia (BirdLife International 2001). It is generally uncommon, although this species has probably not declined very rapidly because it ranges up to elevations where forest loss is less severe and occurs it in selectively logged sites. Densities recorded in south-western Sumatra ranged from 0.9 to 3.7 birds/km2 (Winarni et al. 2009).
It occurs in tall, dry, lowland primary, secondary and logged forests, up to 1,300 m, but principally, below 900 m (BirdLife International 2001, Dinata et al. 2008). It is much sparser in deciduous forest and rare to absent from lowland peat swamp and white-sand heath forests. A recent study in Sumatra, utilising radio-tracking, habitat sampling, camera trapping and transect surveys found that territories averaged 14.5 ha, used mostly by resident males, who showed a preference for undisturbed forest (Winarni et al. 2009). Both sexes show a preference for intact forest with large trees and an open understorey. The species's diet includes fruits, seeds, flowers, leaf buds and invertebrates (Winarni et al. 2009).
Forest destruction in the Sundaic lowlands of Indonesia and Malaysia has been extensive (Kalimantan lost nearly 25% of its evergreen forest during 1985-1997, and Sumatra lost almost 30% of its 1985 cover), because of a variety of factors, including the escalation of logging and land conversion, with deliberate targeting of all remaining stands of valuable timber including those inside protected areas, plus forest fires (particularly in 1997-1998). At present, less than 13% of Sumatra's original lowland forest cover remains (Winarni et al. 2009). Declines are compounded by trapping for the cage-bird industry. However, the species's use of secondary growth and higher elevations implies that it is not immediately threatened. The impacts of anthropogenic threats may be compounded by pressures from drought events, such as those linked to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) (Winarni et al. 2009).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Taylor, J.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Argusianus argus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/01/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/01/2020.