Germain’s peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron germaini)

Spanish: Espolonero de Germain, Faisán de Cola Ocelada de Germain, Faisán Real de Germain
GenusPolyplectron (1)
SizeMale size: c. 56 cm (2)
Female size: c. 48 cm (2)

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

Like most other peacock-pheasants (Polyplectron spp.), this is an elegant species possessing sombre colours but elaborate markings. The male’s plumage is dark brown to black, finely spotted with buff, and decorated on the back, shoulders, wings and tail with large round eye-shaped spots (ocelli), which are brilliant metallic violet-blue and green in colour (4). Males can be distinguished from other peacock-pheasants (Polyplectron spp.) by the larger size of these eye-shaped spots and the lack of a crest or ruff around the neck (2). Females are smaller and slightly duller than males, with dark brown plumage streaked and freckled with pale brownish-grey, and the blue eye-shaped spots on their back, shoulders and wings are somewhat triangular (2) (4). Both sexes have bare red facial skin around their eyes (5).

Known from central and southern Vietnam and eastern Cambodia (6).

Found in a range of forest types including lowland, montane, dipterocarp-dominated evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, as well as logged secondary forest, and also recorded from thorny bamboo brakes (2) (7). Known from sea-level up to at least 1,400 metres above sea level (7).

In captivity, Germain’s peacock-pheasant appears to breed almost year-round, with females laying again once their young become independent. In the wild, this bird has been observed breeding from February to April. Clutches usually consists of two eggs, which are incubated for 21 to 22 days (6).

Nothing is known of the diet in the wild, although it is probably similar to that of the grey peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron bicalcaratum), with which this species shares its range (6). This consists of berries, fruits, seeds, wild figs, grubs, ants, insects, snails and other small animals (2).

Historically, Germain’s peacock-pheasant has suffered major declines due to forest clearance for subsistence cultivation and localised commercial cropping of coffee and cashew nuts, as well as commercial logging and resettlement programmes (6) (7). Much of the lowland forest within the species’ range has been destroyed or severely fragmented, and hill forest is being increasingly logged and disturbed (8). Hunting with guns and snares, even within protected areas, is also a significant threat to this species (7) (8).

Populations survive in several protected areas within Vietnam, and there are records from Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area and Virachey National Park in Cambodia. However, a shortage of staff and resources in some of these areas means that hunting, disturbance and small-scale logging persist. A five year project, started in 1998, has now been completed in Cat Loc Nature Reserve and Cat Tien National Park (the two areas are now administratively integrated), which focused on research towards a conservation management plan, capacity building, community development and conservation education. Alongside such important initiatives, it is imperative that more effective control of human encroachment and hunting is achieved in protected areas, if this graceful pheasant is to survive growing human pressures (7).

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  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2014)