Salvadori’s pheasant (Lophura inornata)

Synonyms: Acomus inornatus, Houppifer inornatus
GenusLophura (1)
SizeLength: 46 – 55 cm (2)
Tail length: c. 16 cm (2)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

This fairly plain pheasant earns its specific name, inornata (Latin for non-ornamental) for its rather unspectacular plumage (2) (4). Males of this small, short-tailed and crestless species are bluish-black, with bare red facial skin and pale grey legs (3) (4). Females are chestnut-brown with buff streaks and irregular blotching, particularly on their underparts, and have a dark tail, red facial skin and pale grey legs (3) (4). The Aceh pheasant (Lophura hoogerwerfi) was previously considered a subspecies of Salvadori’s pheasant, but many now believe it to be a distinct species (3).

Salvadori’s pheasant is endemic to the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, where it is known from at least ten localities in the central and south Barisan mountain range (3).

Found in montane humid forest from around 800 to 2,200 metres, with most records coming from above 1000 metres. While primary, un-logged forest appears to be preferred, disturbed and degraded habitats close to primary forest are also visited (3).

Salvadori’s biology and behaviour in the wild remain poorly understood. The diet is thought to include fruit, and some have become habituated to human presence and feed on biscuit crumbs left by hikers, but very little else is known (5).

Most breeding appears to occur from April to July, when these birds can usually be found in pairs, although a pair and single juvenile have been observed together as late as December (5). In captivity, a clutch of two eggs has been recorded taking 22 days to hatch (2) (4) (5).

The small population of Salvadori’s pheasants is declining and becoming increasingly fragmented in the face of ongoing habitat loss and hunting pressure (3) (5). The most important threat to this species is forest destruction, which has been rife in the lowlands of Sumatra, but is now beginning to extend up the foothills in many areas, intruding upon the habitat of Salvadori’s pheasant (5). Much of the forest in the lower parts of this pheasant’s altitudinal range have been cleared for shifting cultivation, and what forest remains is vulnerable to further illegal agricultural encroachment and an increasing frequency of drought fires (3) (5). In Kerinci-Seblat National Park, there is also heavy trapping and shooting (with air rifles) by local people for food (5).

Salvadori’s pheasant is known to occur in at least two protected areas, the large Kerinci-Seblat National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan, and in two other areas currently designated as protected forest, but proposed for upgrading to wildlife reserves, Gunung Singgalang and Bukit Dingin/Gunung Dempu (3). Despite their protected status, these areas may not be receiving appropriate protection, with heavy hunting pressure and habitat disturbance continuing to burden Kerinci-Seblat National Park in particular (5). It has been advocated that Salvadori’s pheasant should be given full protection under Indonesian law, and that efforts should be made to establish new, and improve existing, protected areas to safeguard its long-term future (3).

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  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2013)