Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small, declining and fragmented population, although recent information suggests that it shows some resilience to exploitation and habitat degradation. Its status in Myanmar has been recently clarified, where it is now thought to be secure.
The population is estimated to number 10,000-19,999 individuals (G. Gale in litt. 2005). This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.
The species is suspected to be declining slowly owing to trapping and habitat loss.
Syrmaticus humiae occurs in Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and perhaps Arunachal Pradesh (Choudhury 2005, 2009) in north-east India (c.4,000 individuals [Choudhury 2002]) through west, north and east Myanmar (c.6,000 individuals [G. Gale and A. Iamsiri in litt. 2005]), where it has been described as common in Bwe Pa, Chin State (J. Eames in litt. 2004), to Yunnan and Guangxi in south China (population unknown but thought to number in the thousands), and north-west Thailand (Iamsiri and Gale 2004, A. Iamsiri in litt. 2005) (200-500 individuals) (BirdLife International 2001). In India, it appears to be rare, although a recent survey in the north-east confirmed 20 new sites, and 24 others remain unconfirmed (Choudhury 2002). In Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram the area of suitable habitat for the species is estimated at c.1,600 km2, c.1,700 km2 and c.1,300 km2 respectively (Choudhury 2009). In Myanmar, there is no evidence of any recent declines, and the species may have undergone a range extension (J. Eames in litt. 2004). In China, populations are apparently relatively stable inside protected areas, although remaining rare and difficult to see (Han Lianxian in litt. 2004), but declining rapidly elsewhere. In Thailand, the population is probably declining slowly.
It inhabits open, dry, subtropical evergreen (mainly oak), coniferous (chiefly pine) or mixed conifer-broadleaf forests on steep, often rocky hillsides interrupted by scrub and grassy clearings. It appears to favour broken or successional habitats, with adjacent patches of dense forest, and fire may play an important role (G. Gale in litt. 2005). Although in Ailaoshan Nature Reserve the species prefers broadleaved evergreen forest (Liu Zhao et al. (2008). It is also described as inhabiting secondary and degraded jungle, and frequents the edges of abandoned slash-and-burn cultivation (Choudhury 2009). On Dazhong Mountain.Yunnan, the species's foraging habitats have been shown to be very similar in spring and autumn (Wei Zhou et al. 2010). Roosts are often located along ridges, and in other relatively open areas (Iamsiri and Gale 2004). The species has been observed to feed on oak nuts and termites (Iamsiri and Gale 2004). A recent microscopic analysis of fecal samples collected in Dazhongshan Nature Reserve, Yunnan, found the species's winter diet there to include at least 18 plant species of 12 families, with a clear preference for Athyrium guangnanense and Pseudocystopteris spinulosa (Li Ning et al. 2008).
The ease with which it can be trapped has been a major cause of its continuing decline across much of its range, including populations within protected areas. The species is caught by snares set for galliformes, and is usually killed for consumption, or traded for consumption, although many trapped birds will be lost to predators (Choudhury 2009). However, the persistence of the species in northern India and in Thailand suggests that it is resilient in the face of heavy exploitation (Choudhury 2005, P. Garson in litt. 2005, A. Iamsiri in litt. 2005). Extensive shifting cultivation and uncontrolled annual burning has resulted in substantial fragmentation and loss of suitable habitat in Myanmar, China and India. In north Thailand, it has suffered from agricultural intensification and habitat fragmentation resulting from development projects (such as the construction of roads [Choudhury 2009]), and reforestation of large areas with dense conifer plantations may also pose a threat. In parts of north-eastern India, the majority of the rural population practice slash-and-burn cultivation as their main occupation, thus very rapid human population growth and expansion threaten to worsen its impacts (Choudhury 2009). Road construction also facilitates increases in the prevalence of hunting and logging (Choudhury 2009).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. The species is legally protected in India, Thailand, Myanmar and China. Populations persist in several protected areas, including: Tongbiguan, Ailaoshan and Wuliangshan Nature Reserves (China); Murlen and Blue Mountain National Parks, Lengteng and Namdapha Wildlife Sanctuarys (India); and Doi Inthanon, Doi Suthep-Pui (Iamsiri and Gale 2004) and Mae Fang National Parks (A. Iamsiri in litt. 2005) and Doi Chang Dao and Mae Lao Mae Sae Wildlife Sanctuaries (Iamsiri and Gale 2004) (Thailand). A community-based conservation project is planned for one site in Thailand beginning in 2007.
Male 90-92 cm, female 60-61 cm. Boldly patterned pheasant with long, barred tail. Male dark chestnut with dark greyish-purple hood and inner wing-coverts, white scapular and wing-bars, white back and uppertail-coverts barred black, with greyish, narrowly barred, brown-and-black. Female duller with shorter, white-tipped tail, greyish-brown with blackish markings and whitish streaks above, reduced white wing-bars and warm brown below scaled whitish from breast down. Voice Male territorial call, crowing cher-a-per cher-a-per cher cher cheria cheria. Also, cackling waaak notes and sharp tuk tuk when alarmed.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Harding, M., Keane, A., Mahood, S., Taylor, J.
Iamsiri, A., Lianxian, H., Zaw, U., Gale, G., Garson, P., Eames, J.C., Choudhury, A.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Syrmaticus humiae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/03/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/03/2021.