Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) – revise global status?

Green Peafowl has three recognised subspecies with the current range thought to be as follows:

P. m. spicifer occurs from NE India (SE Assam) and SE Bangladesh E to NW Myanmar (possibly extinct).

P. m. imperator is patchily distributed in S China (S Yunnan) and NW Myanmar S to Isthmus of Kra, and E through Thailand to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

P. m. muticus – locally in Java; extinct in Peninsular Malaysia, and probably also in Thailand.

It is currently listed as Endangered under Criterion A2c+3c+4cd as it is suspected to be undergoing very rapid ongoing population declines (exceeding 50% in three generations/18 years). Whilst significant declines have undoubtedly occurred, the presence of several significant populations in protected areas that appear to be stable or increasing suggests that the overall rate of decline may be lower than previously suspected.

The most recent available information from each of the range states is summarised here, followed by assessment against the Red List Criteria.

 

In Myanmar, surveys in 2003-2005 suggested it was widespread and 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 by 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, and declines were evident in some areas since the late 1950s (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. 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).

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 by 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 574 birds (95% CI = 349-1,203) by 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 541 (95% CI = 252-1,160) (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). The current trend is uncertain although declines were noted as early as the first quarter of the 20th century. 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. It is extinct in peninsular Malaysia.

 

Assessment against Red List Criteria

Criterion A – The current listing is based on an overall population decline suspected to be between 50-79% in three generations (18 years). Whilst significant historical declines have undoubtedly occurred, and may indeed continue in parts of the range, the presence of several significant populations in protected areas that appear to be stable or increasing suggests that the overall rate of decline may in fact be lower than previously suspected.

If the global population was suspected to be decreasing at a lower rate of 30-49% in three generations (18 years) it would warrant listing as Vulnerable under Criterion A. Declines approaching 30% in three generations would mean the species was eligible for listing as Near Threatened under the same criterion.

Criterion B – The species has an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 4,590,000 km2 so it does not meet the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criterion B1. The global area of occupancy (AOO) has not been calculated, but given the EOO, the AOO likely exceeds the threshold for Vulnerable under this criterion (2,000km2). Therefore, the species likely does not warrant listing as globally threatened under this criterion.

Criterion C – The global population is currently thought to lie within the range 10,000-19,999 mature individuals, although there is a high degree of uncertainty about the total population size. Unless there is reason to revise this estimate downwards, the species would not qualify for listing in any of the threatened categories under this criterion.

Criterion D – The population size and range are too large to warrant listing this species as Vulnerable under this criterion.

Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge, no quantitative analysis of extinction risk has been conducted for this species. Therefore, it cannot be assessed against this criterion.

Therefore, in the absence of any further information Green Peafowl may warrant listing as Vulnerable or possibly Near Threatened under criterion A2cd+3cd+4cd. Comments on the likely overall rate of population decline over an 18 year period are particularly sought.

Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of the species’ Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are relevant to the information that is sought, or about the species’ Red List status.

 

References

Gray, T.N.E., Pollard, E.H.B., Evans, T.D., Goes, F., Grindley, M., Omaliss, K., Nielsen, P.H., Sambovannak, O., Channa, P. & Sophoan, S. 2014. Birds of Mondulkiri, Cambodia: distribution, status and conservation. Forktail 30: 66–78.

Han, L., Liu, Y. and Han, B. 2009. The status and distribution of green peafowl Pavo muticus in Yunnan Province, China. International Journal of Galliformes Conservation, 1, 29–31.

Loveridge, R., Kidney, D., Ty, S., Eang, S., Eames, J. C. and Borchers, D. 2017. First systematic survey of green peafowl Pavo muticus in northeastern Cambodia reveals a population stronghold and preference for disappearing riverine habitat. Cambodian Journal of Natural History (2) 157–167.

McGowan, P.J.K., Duckworth, J.W., Xianji, W., van Balen, B., Xiaojun, Y., Khan, M.K.M., Yatim, S.H., Thanga, L., Setiawan, I. & Kaul, R. 1998. A review of the status of the Green Peafowl Pavo muticus and recommendations for future action. Bird Conserv. Int. 8(4): 331–348.

McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. 2018. Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53522 on 14 February 2018).

Nuttall, M., Menghor, N., Ung, V. and O’Kelly, H. 2016. Abundance estimates for the endangered Green Peafowl Pavo muticus in Cambodia: identification of a globally important site for conservation. Bird Conservation International 27(1): 127-139.

Phan C., Prum S. & Gray, T. N. E. 2010. Recent camera-trap records of globally threatened species from the Eastern Plains Landscape, Cambodia. Cambodian J. Nat. Hist. 2010: 89-93.

Sukumal, N., Dowell, S. D. and Savini, T. 2017. Micro-habitat selection and population recovery of the Endangered Green Peafowl Pavo muticus in western Thailand: implications for conservation guidance. Bird Conservation International. 27:414–430

Sukumal, N., McGowan, P. J. K. and Savini, T. 2015. Change in status of green peafowl Pavo muticus (Family Phasianidae) in Southcentral Vietnam: A comparison over 15 years. Global Ecology and Conservation 3:11-19.

Thewlis, R. M., Timmins, R. J., Evans, T. D. & Duckworth, J. W. (1998). The conservation status of birds in Laos: a review of key species.  Bird Conservation International 8(Suppl.): 1–159.

Tordoff, A. W., Appleton, T., Eames, J. C., Eberhardt, K., Htin Hla, Khin Ma Ma Thwin, Sao Myo Zaw, Saw Moses and Sein Myo Aung. 2007. Avifaunal surveys in the lowlands of Kachin State, Myanmar, 2003-2005. Nat. Hist. Bull. Siam. Soc 55(2): 235-306.

Xianji, W., Xiaajun, Y., Lan, Y. & Wenying, S. 1997. Current range and status of Green Peafowl in south-east and north-west Yunnan, China. Bull. Oriental Bird Club 26: 13–14.

 

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