Quangtri, central Vietnam.
Formerly placed in either genus Delacourigallus or genus Hierophasis, but recent genetic study found no evidence that Lophura as currently constituted is polyphyletic#R. Same study found that Lophura comprises five clades, of which present species forms a clade with L. swinhoii#R. Form known as “Imperial Pheasant L. imperialis” now known to be a hybrid between present species and L. nycthemera#R. Form hatinhensis, sometimes treated as a full species or as a subspecies of L. edwardsi, now judged to be an unstable variant produced by inbreeding#R. Monotypic.
C Vietnam (C Annam).
58–65 cm; male tail length 24–26 cm, female 20–22 cm; two males 1115 g and 1100 g, one female 1050 g. Male is distinctive in having all-black plumage with strong blue gloss, and metallic green fringes to upperwing-coverts, contrasting with fairly small white crest and extensive scarlet facial skin; bill whitish green with blackish base, irides reddish brown, legs and feet crimson. Differs from entirely allopatric L. swinhoii in generally less colourful appearance and in lack of extensive white on upper back and tail; from similar L. leucomelanos hamiltoni (also mainly blackish blue with white crest and red facial skin) in absence of copious pale markings on underparts. Female is generally chestnut-brown with no crest; darker flight-feathers and especially tail; bill whitish green with horn-brown base, irides reddish brown (browner than male’s), legs scarlet#R. Juvenile mostly chestnut-brown, with black markings on upperparts; throat pale fulvous, underparts chestnut-brown with black vermiculations; male assumes adult plumage in first year. Male of variant form “hatinhensis” (see Taxonomy) has up to three pairs of central rectrices white, and female is perhaps warmer above than ‘normal’ females#R.
Occurs on level or gently sloping terrain covered by secondary lowland evergreen forest with well-developed understorey of palms and rattan, interspersed with patches of bamboo. Where sympatric, L. diardi appears to be largely confined to degraded scrubby woodland. Most numerous in areas of dense undergrowth and liana-covered hillsides; records in 1990s were from selectively logged lowland areas. Previously reported to inhabit wet forest up to c. 600 m, although there is no specific evidence that it occurs above 300 m#R. Known range coincides with a region of generally high year-round humidity and very high rainfall#R.
Food and feeding
No information available.
No information available.
Status and conservation
CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. CITES I. Restricted-range species: occurs in Annamese Lowlands Endemic Bird Area, being known only from tiny area of C Vietnam. Absence of recent records suggests that wild population is probably extremely small and highly fragmented, and that all subpopulations are tiny. Estimated global population 50–249 mature individuals, probably at lower end of that range. Known historically from provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue, this pheasant was once described as locally fairly common, but there were no confirmed records between 1930 and 1996, when individuals were recorded near Phong My Commune (Thua Thien Hue) and Huong Hiep Commune (Quang Tri)#R; since then, several individuals found in Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue. No confirmed records since 2000, when one male confiscated from a hunter was kept in captivity in Hai Lang District Forest Protection Department, Quang Tri. Although a possible female was reported in 2009 near Hai Van Pass, doubts exist over the identification; camera-trap surveys in 2011 at two relatively undisturbed locations—Khe Nuoc Trong Watershed Protection Forest (Quang Binh) and Dakrong Nature Reserve (Quang Tri)—failed to record the species, and some authors have postulated that it is now extinct#R. Habitat destruction is clearly main cause of decline, but over-exploitation for food undoubtedly also an important factor. Within this species’ historical range, primary forest has been almost completely destroyed as a result of herbicide-spraying during Vietnam war combined with subsequent logging and clearance for agriculture. The few surviving forest areas in which it was known to occur are subject to ongoing degradation, mainly from wood-cutting. Small patches of very humid forest within wider area of unsuitable forest are thought likely to maintain high humidity values only when large areas of forest remain intact; in hills above now deforested coastal plain, forest fragmentation has been more intense than complete forest loss, but has probably resulted in overall drying of the forest, which could have rendered formerly suitable patches unsuitable. Although this pheasant has been recorded in degraded habitats, it is unknown whether it is capable of long-term survival in such conditions. Hunting pressure (from various forest-product gatherers) is major threat, and the species may be affected by indiscriminate snaring. Although it appears that galliforms can withstand extremely high levels of trapping#R and this is targeted at more resilient species of ground-dwelling birds, such as Gallus gallus, it is indiscriminate and continues even when numbers of other species, including threatened ones such as L. edwardsi, are severely reduced, potentially resulting in local extinction as a result#R. Conservation measures include incorporation of sites with the most recent records within two proposed nature reserves, Phong Dien and Dakrong (combined area c. 70,000 ha), for which a management feasibility study has been completed. In Quang Tri province, a Site Support Group has been established for Dakrong Important Bird Area (IBA) and there are plans for one at Huong Hoa IBA, where Bach Huong Hoa Nature Reserve was proposed. Bach Ma National Park lies within the species’ historical range (but a poster campaign for local information, conducted there in 1996, produced no confirmed records from the park). Captive breeding was first successful outside Vietnam in mid 1990s#R. By the end of 2003, the captive population numbered 1033 individuals; the maternal line has been screened and hybrids purged from the captive stock. Further camera-trapping surveys are planned.
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