Green Peafowl Pavo muticus


Justification of Red List category
This species has a very rapidly declining and severely fragmented population, primarily owing to intense habitat conversion and extremely high hunting levels. Negative population trends and habitat fragmentation are projected to continue. The species therefore qualifies as Endangered.

Population justification
Although rare compared with historic numbers, improved survey methodology and increased effort has led to an increase in the reporting rate and thus the population estimate has been revised upwards to 10,000-19,999 mature individuals, to reflect this improved knowledge. This equates to 15,000-29,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 15,000-30,000 individuals. Nevertheless this remains a coarse estimate and warrants refinement.

Trend justification
Habitat modification and utilisation continue to be intense in South-East Asia; they have almost certainly precipitated declines in this species's population of more than 50% over the past three generations and these are projected to continue. However, the rate of decline appears to vary considerably across the species's range. In Myanmar, the population is stable (Tordoff et al. 2007, R. Cavalieri and T. Savini in litt 2018), but is confined to small populations, scattered over a mosaic of degraded habitats (T. Savini in litt. 2018, Shwe et al. unpublished data). In China, the species has already disappeared from 60% of its former habitat, while the remaining population is in decline (Kong et al. 2018, T. Savini in litt. 2018). The overall population trend in Vietnam is unclear. A significant decline in Yok Don National Park was observed over the 15 years between 1998-2013, however the recorded density in Cat Tien National Park increased over that period, suggesting that the trend there was possibly stable or increasing (Sukumal et al. 2015, 2017, S. Dowell in litt. 2018). The population in Thailand  appears to be stable or even locally increasing (S. Dowell, J.W. Duckworth in litt. 2018, T. Savini in litt. 2018). Though there are no recent data from Laos, the species is known from only few localities, where it has undergone drastic declines (Evans and Timmins 1996, Vongkhamheng 2015, T. Savini in litt. 2018). In Cambodia, recent surveys found the species more widespread than previously believed (T. Gray in litt. 2018), but subject to high levels of hunting and habitat loss, even in protected areas (Nuttall et al. 2016, Loveridge et al. 2017, T. Savini in litt. 2018). In Indonesia, the current trend is uncertain. Declines were noted as early as the first quarter of the 20th century, but current data suggest that the population might be stable (T. Savini in litt. 2018).

Distribution and population

Pavo muticus has a large ancestral range, across which it was once common and widespread (BirdLife International 2001). In Myanmar, surveys in 2003-2005 suggested it was common in the Chindwin basin (Tordoff et al. 2007, J. C. Eames in litt. 2012), subsequently designated as the Hukawng Tiger Reserve. Elsewhere in the lowlands of Kachin state it may have undergone significant declines during the 20th century. In China it was formerly reported from Zhejang, Hubei, Sichuan, Guangxi and Guandong provinces, but has declined significantly, being lost from all of these since the early 20th century (McGowan and Kirwan 2018). It is now known almost exclusively from Yunnan province, where it is mainly limited to the tropical forest area on the banks of the middle and lower reaches of the Lanchan, Nu and Red Rivers (Han et al. 2009). The population in Yunnan was estimated at 800-1,100 individuals in the early 1990s (Xianji et al. 1997). In Vietnam, the species was formerly widespread virtually throughout, being locally numerous even as recently as the late 1970s/early 1980s, but numbers have been much reduced by habitat loss (McGowan et al. 1998). The main population is now thought to lie in the southcentral region, with the Yok Don and Cat Tien National Parks thought to contain the most important populations. In Thailand, the population appears to be stable or even increasing in some areas. In Jun District, Phayao Province in Northern Thailand, a mosaic of farmland and forest habitat in and around a wildlife sanctuary (Wiang Lor) supports a significant and expanding Green Peafowl population (P. D. Round in litt. 2017). The population here is thought to be several hundred birds and possibly as many as 1,000 or more. Local cultural beliefs, alongside a community-based Green Peafowl conservation project being run out of Phayao University, may have aided recovery here (P. D. Round in litt. 2017). At Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, western Thailand, encounter rates compared between 1992 and 2013-2015 showed an increase in numbers in most of the peripheral areas of the sanctuary whilst numbers in the core area remained stable, with increased patrols to control hunting thought to have enabled recovery (Sukumal et al. 2017). In Laos, it occurs in Xe Pian National Protected Area and several other proposed or actual conservation units; the country was considered to still harbour an important population (Thewlis et al. 1998), although numbers have obviously declined dramatically since the early 20th century, as elsewhere (McGowan and Kirwan 2018). Cambodia had been speculated to hold one of the largest remaining populations of the species, however it is likely suffering due to wholesale transformation of the landscape (P. D. Round in litt. 2017). In the north, at Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary the population was estimated at around 570 birds (Loveridge et al. 2017). The site is thought to be a national stronghold for the species, with the highest densities in riverine habitat and further from human settlements. In the east of the country, the population in Seima Protection Forest, Mondulkiri region in 2014 was estimated to be about 540 (Nuttall et al. 2016). It presumably breeds in suitable habitat throughout the Mondulkiri region (Gray et al. 2014), and it was the bird species most frequently recorded by camera traps set in forest in Phnom Prich WS and Mondulkiri PF (Phan et al. 2010). The population size on Java (Indonesia) is unknown but has been considered to number no more than 1,000 individuals (McGowan and Kirwan 2018). Recent counts have included 40 at Baluran NP in 2017, 30 at Alas Purwo NP in 2015 and 10 at Gunung Gede NP in 2017 (eBird). It is protected by Indonesian law, but some illegal trapping may continue as its train feathers are used in traditional Javanese dance (McGowan and Kirwan 2018). Formerly a rare resident in both India and Bangladesh, it is now possibly extinct in these countries and is confirmed extinct in peninsular Malaysia.


Historically it has been reported to occur in a wide variety of habitats, including a range of primary and secondary, tropical and subtropical, evergreen and deciduous forest-types, mixed coniferous forest, swamp forest, open woodland, forest edge, bamboo, grasslands, savannas, scrub and farmland edge, from sea-level to at least 2,100 m. Contemporary records are mostly limited to dry deciduous forests, with the highest densities occurring near undisturbed rivers and wetlands (Brickle 2002); access to water and human disturbance have a strong influence on the species's abundance and distribution (Brickle 2002, J. C. Eames in litt. 2004). It has been hypothesized that the species favours open deciduous forest as it may allow large clutches to be laid to coincide with a seasonal flush of fallen fruit (Brickle 2002).


Widespread hunting for meat and feathers, and collection of eggs and chicks, combined with habitat modification and human disturbance, has caused a catastrophic decline throughout much of the species's range. Especially in the species's lowland forest habitat, the rate of snaring has increased tremendously since about 2005. Forest fragmentation has isolated many small populations, increasing their susceptibility to local extinction, but selective logging appears to have no adverse effects on peafowl distribution (Brickle 2002). Agricultural intensification, overgrazing and burning are major threats to the species (Sukumal et al. 2015). Other threats may include trade in the male's spectacular train feathers. In 2008, individuals of this species were reportedly being sold illegally for IDR200,000 (at the time around US$22) in the animal markets of Java (ProFauna Indonesia in litt. 2008). The species is regarded as a crop-pest by farmers in China and Thailand (W. Meckvichai in litt. 2004), and is consequently poisoned (Han et al. 2009). The spread of human settlements presents the greatest threat, directly through hunting pressure and habitat loss, but also indirectly by preventing access to otherwise suitable habitat.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The species is protected in China, although its conservation is difficult to enforce in remote mountainous areas (Han et al. 2009). It is known from many protected areas, including important populations in Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia (J. C. Eames in litt. 2004, W. Meckvichai in litt. 2004). These include: Huai Kha Kheng Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand; Ujung Kulon and Baluran National Parks, Indonesia; Yok Don National Park, Vietnam; Lomphat, Phnom Prich and Kulen Promtep wildlife sanctuaries, Chhep and Eastern Mondulkiri protected forests and Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, Cambodia; Xe Pian National Protected Area, Laos (Brickle 2002), and Shuangbai Konglonghe Nature Reserve, China (Liu et al. 2009). The core zone of Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area has recently been extended (T. Evans in litt. 2007) and increased education and patrolling is likely to improve the prospects for this important population, now known to number several hundred individuals. Extensive public awareness campaigns have been carried out in China and Laos. A captive breeding programme has been initiated in collaboration with the World Pheasant Association as a first step towards reintroducing birds into Peninsular Malaysia. The Cambodian Galliformes Conservation Programme through the Forestry Administration and the World Pheasant Association have conducted status surveys at a number of sites within north-west Cambodia. A model was developed to predict peafowl distribution and abundance at the landscape scale based upon distance to water and villages (Brickle 2002). In 2008, authorities in Java confiscated at least 17 individuals of this species from animal markets and residences (ProFauna Indonesia in litt. 2008).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue research into its range, status, habitat requirements and interactions with people to inform management within protected areas. Clarify its status in India. Further develop the captive-breeding programme and initiate additional conservation awareness campaigns in Myanmar and Cambodia, while continuing existing ones. Develop landscape-level management recommendations for key areas, including the establishment of new protected areas where appropriate. Promote strict enforcement of regulations relating to hunting and pesticide use within protected areas supporting populations in Indochina. Encourage a total ban on trade in live birds and train feathers in all range countries.


Male 244 cm, female 100-110 cm. Beautiful, spangled green peafowl. Male has long, upright crest, largely brilliant glossy-green plumage with blackish scales and mostly blackish-brown wings (tinged green) with caramel-coloured primaries. Female, duller, lacks train and has blackish-brown upperparts and tail with pale buffish bars and vermiculations. Juvenile (both sexes) resembles female. Voice Male territorial call is far-carrying ki-wao (often repeated). Female gives loud aow-aa, with emphasis on first syllable. Hints Males call from roost trees in early morning and at dusk.


Text account compilers
Davidson, P., Bird, J., Hermes, C., Keane, A., Benstead, P., Khwaja, N., Martin, R., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Duckworth, W., Gray, T.N.E., Cavalieri, R., Meckvichai, W., Dowell, S., Savini, T., Eames, J.C., Round, P., Evans, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Pavo muticus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/green-peafowl-pavo-muticus on 03/10/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 03/10/2023.