Bornean peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron schleiermacheri)

Spanish: Espolonero de Borneo
GenusPolyplectron (1)

The Bornean peacock-pheasant is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The highly threatened Bornean peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron schleiermacheri) is a strikingly beautiful but elusive species. The upperparts and tail of the male Bornean peacock-pheasant are reddish-brown and liberally decorated with distinctive blue-green markings resembling eyes, known as ‘ocelli’. The male also has a pure white throat and upper breast, with a stunning metallic blue edge, and an orange, featherless face (3).

The female Bornean peacock-pheasant is smaller and more drab than the male (2).

Vocalisations of both males and females are loud, harsh cackles (2), described as a ‘cack-cack’ (3).

The Bornean peacock-pheasant is endemic to Borneo (Indonesia and Malaysia). The range of the bird is not entirely understood due to the birds elusive nature, but it is thought to extend across the entire island (2) (3).

Very little is known about the Bornean peacock-pheasant’s habitat requirements. It is thought to favour lowland dipterocarp forest on moderately fertile soils, primarily below elevations of 1,000 metres (2). It is thought to avoid wet areas, such as swamp-forests, and forest near water bodies (2).

Very little is known of the biology and life history of the Bornean peacock-pheasant, although it is likely to be similar to other Polyplectron species.

The female hens of Polyplectron pheasants typically lay two eggs per clutch (4). Like other forest-dwelling pheasants, it is likely that fruit is an important part of the Bornean peacock-pheasant’s diet, and thus it may act as an important seed disperser (5).

The Bornean peacock-pheasant is thought to be territorial, with a relatively small home range (3).

The greatest threats to the Bornean peacock-pheasant are habitat loss and hunting (2).

The forests of Borneo have been devastated by logging and clearance for plantations, particularly rubber and oil palm plantations (2) (3). From 1985 to 1997, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) lost around 25 percent of its evergreen forest, and much of the remaining lowland forest is granted to logging concessions (2).

Forest fires also pose a significant threat to the habitat of the Bornean peacock-pheasant. In 1998, around 60 percent of the Sungai Wain Nature Reserve in Borneo was affected by forest fires (6). Worryingly, forest fires seem to be increasing in frequency and severity (2).

The Bornean peacock-pheasant has been recorded in a number of protected areas within Borneo, including Sungai Wain Nature Reserve and Danau Sentarum National Park (2).

Within the Sungai Wain Nature Reserve, fire breaks are maintained every dry season to limit the distance forest fires can travel. Extensive awareness and education work is also being carried out in the reserve, and there are daily patrols to prevent illegal hunting and logging (3). However, such extensive conservation actions within protected areas are uncommon in Indonesia (3), and further conservation measures are clearly needed for this striking and endangered bird.

Numerous conservation measures have been recommended, which will help not the only Bornean peacock-pheasant, but also the numerous other species affected by habitat loss in Borneo. These measures include promoting prohibition of hunting, creating new protected areas, and extending existing protected areas (2).

Learn more about conservation in Borneo:

 For more information on the Bornean peacock-pheasant and other bird species:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
  2. BirdLife International (November, 2010)
  3. Fredrikkson, G.M. and Nijman, V. (2004) Habitat use and conservation status of two elusive ground birds (Carpococcyx radiatusand Polyplectron schleiermacheri) in the Sungai Wain Protection Forest, East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Oryx, 38(3): 297-303.
  4. GBWF (November, 2010)
  5. Corlett, R.T. and Primack, R.B. (2011) TropicalRain Forests:An Ecological and Biogeographical Comparison. Wiley, UK.
  6. Fredriksson, G.M. (2002) Extinguishing the 1998 forest fires and subsequent coal fires in the Sungai Wain Protection Forest, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. In: Moore, P., Ganz, D., Tan, L.C., Enters, T. and Durst, P.B. (Eds.) Communities in Flames: Proceedings of an International Conference on Community Involvement in Fire Management. Food and Agricultural Organization and FireFight SE Asia, Bangkok, Thailand.