Justification of Red List Category
This striking pheasant is poorly known across almost all of its remote, inaccessible and relatively restricted range. It is classified as Vulnerable because it probably has a small population which is naturally fragmented and subject to a significant decline.
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
The species is suspected to be declining at a moderate rate, principally as a result of hunting pressure and habitat loss.
Lophophorus sclateri is endemic to the eastern Himalayas, from Arunachal Pradesh, India, east through northern Myanmar and south-eastern Tibet to western Yunnan, China. There are recent records from Arunachal Pradesh, where it is locally fairly common, Yunnan, where numbers are thought to be stable, and Myanmar (J. C. Eames verbally 2003), where it was historically described as local and uncommon.
It inhabits alpine meadows, subalpine rhododendron scrub and rocky precipitous slopes from 3,000-4,200 m, occurring down to the edge of oak-rhododendron (S. Kumar in litt. 2004) and coniferous forest with a bamboo understorey, azalea forest, and areas of juniper and cotoneaster, descending to temperate forest at 2,000-3,000 m in October (Suresh and Singh 2004). Where its range overlaps with L. impejanus, it generally occurs at higher altitudes although some local reports have described them occurring together (S. Kumar in litt. 2004). It is solitary during the breeding season (spring), but gregarious in winter. It feeds on roots, tubers, seeds, bark and leaf parts (Suresh and Singh 2004).
Hunting for food is the single main threat across the species's range. In addition, hunting for feathers (to make ornaments and fans) is a localised problem in India. In the Arbor Hills (S. Kumar in litt. 2004) and Mishmi Hills, India, hunting intensity has significantly reduced population densities. Habitat degradation as a result of logging is a more localised threat. The habitats of the newly discovered taxon in Arunachal Pradesh appear to be little threatened, owing to their inaccessibility.
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. It is legally protected in India (A. Rahmani in litt. 2012). It occurs in the Gaoligong Shan National Nature Reserve in Yunnan, China, although it appears to be rare here and numbers are probably small (Han Lianxian in litt. 2004). The creation of Dehang-Debang Biosphere Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, which encompasses the Dibang Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Mouling National Park and unclassified state forests, offers further protection (S. Kumar in litt. 2004). The remote nature of its habitats and range, to an extent, lessen the level of threat it faces from hunting. In 1997, the Endangered Species Breeding Centre of Beijing received three pairs to begin a captive breeding programme, although the subsequent outcome is unknown. Success has however been enjoyed by similar programmes for related species (BirdLife International 2001). A new subspecies was recently described and its conservation status has been reviewed (Suresh and Singh 2004).
63-68 cm. Typical monal with unusual short, curly crown feathers and chestnut tail with white terminal band. Similar spp. Curly crown feathers, white back to uppertail-coverts and chestnut tail with white terminal band of the male are diagnostic (tail all white in recently discovered population in Arunachal Pradesh, India). Female differs from Himalayan Monal L. impejanus by less extensively white throat, lack of pale streaks on underparts, broader white tail tip, paler back to uppertail-coverts and absent curly crown feathers. Juvenile (both sexes) initially like female but darker above, with buff streaks.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Keane, A., Taylor, J. & Khwaja, N.
Eames, J., Kumar, S., Lianxian, H., Rimlinger, D., Zaw, U. & Zhang, Z.
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Lophophorus sclateri. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/03/2023.