Tag Archives: conservation

Efforts are underway to reintroduce Edwards’s pheasant back into the wild

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Edwards’s Pheasant (Lophura edwardsi) | By Don Butler

The white framed faces of the Red-shanked Douc monkeys look out from the canopy of Khe Nuoc Trong forests in Le Thuy district, Quang Binh province. In the distance, the calls of White-cheeked Gibbons echo through the early morning stillness. Browsing in the shadows of the forest floor are Giant and Annamite muntjac, and perhaps Saola, only discovered by science in the 1990s. These and many other rare and endangered species can be found in this forest, a jewel of bio-diversity in one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet.

But Ke Nuoc Trong is not a pristine paradise. An important part of the forest’s biological heritage is missing: Edward’s Pheasant, once found only in the lowland forests of Central Vietnam, has not been seen in the wild since 2000.

This beautiful bird, whose males are iridescent blue with a flash of red on the face and a white crest, was discovered in 1896 and recorded by French ornithologists in the 1920s and early 1930s. It then went unrecorded for almost 60 years until 1996. Sadly, not long after being rediscovered, it vanished again. Extensive surveys of its favored haunts have found no trace of it.

The centre of this species’s historic homeland lay in Quang Tri province, the site of the Demilitarized Zone during the American War, which suffered the fiercest fighting and the most aggressive use of herbicides. During this conflict, which ended in 1975, 72 million litters of herbicides, including the infamous ‘agent orange’, were sprayed on forests and fields.

Edwards's Pheasant, Lophura edwardsi, standing in front of white background

Since then, increasing human populations and demand for agricultural land have further reduced any habitat which is suitable for Edward’s pheasant. Some forests look intact with regrown or replanted trees but are devoid of animals because they have been hunted for food or illegal trade. Populations of Edwards’s pheasant were reduced, fragmented and left fragile. Snares set for bush-meat may have caught the last individuals, causing this species to go extinct in the wild.

Edwards’s Pheasant at Mulhouse Zoo, France | By Eric Isselee

However, there is good news. Sometime in the 1920s, at least 14 pairs of Edwards’s Pheasant were captured and sent to France. This small, exiled population has done well. There are currently over 1000 birds in collections across the world, including birds in the Hanoi zoo. Some may not be purebred Edwards’s Pheasant but genetic analysis is currently underway to find the best genetic stock. The plan is to select the range. It will take at least five to seven years but, if successful, these birds could be released back into the wild. Of course, the wild bird must be ready to receive them. Efforts are being made to locate any remaining populations of Edwards’s Pheasants in pockets of suitable habitat within larger blocks of forest. Measures are being implemented to restore and safeguard other potential pheasant habitats. One of the greatest threats to the success of a reintroduction program would be hunting, so Viet Nature Conservation centre (Viet Nature), together with their partners, are aiming to eradicate hunting at key sites: Ke Nuoc Trong, Bac Huong Hoa, Dakrong, Phong Dien and Ke Go Nature Reservers.

The first steps towards establishing an Edwards’s pheasant breeding program have already been taken. With the support of local and international partners, Viet Nature will build a breeding station and environmental education centre on five hectares of land in Quang Binh province (outside any reserve for biosecurity reasons).

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Edward Pheasant at Lyon zoo, France | By Emmanuelle Gaujour

Right now the Edwards’s pheasant ex-situ conservation community, including staff at Hanoi Zoo, and zoos and private breeders in Europe, are selecting the best birds for the breeding program. Four birds were sent to Hanoi Zoo in 2015 to breed with descendants of the only wild male caught in 1997.

Establishing a viable breeding group of Edwards’s pheasant is just the first step. Release into the wild will take more time, trial and error. in the spring of 2017, the Year of the Rooster, the first aviaries with a few pairs of Edwards’s pheasant will be built at the breeding station. It’s hoped that by the next year of the Rooter, sustainable population of Edwards’s pheasant may be found in the wild in its homeland.

At the core of these efforts to return once species of bird to its natural home is the restoration of Vietnam’s forests. Forests provide the basics of life – clean air and clean water. They are a buffer against the threat of climate change. For Vietnamese people forests are something more: they signify the survival of the unique beauty of Vietnam’s landscapes and culture. What better symbol of that survival than this beautiful bird, its feathers flashing in the dappled light, rejoicing in the life-giving rain?

Source: Viet Nature Conservation centre (May 2017) The Edwards’s Pheasant Heritage (Vietnam airlines inflight magazine)

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The second group of Edwards’s Pheasant, after decades in Europe, has repatriated

Hanoi – On 27th May 2015, a group of three female and one male Edwards’s Pheasants Lophura edwardsi from Prague Zoo, Czech Republic safely arrived in Hanoi Zoo, as a result of the collaboration between in-situ conservation groups in Europe and in Hanoi Zoo. In order for these Edwards’s Pheasant (EP) to be homecoming, World Pheasant Association (WPA) enthusiastically supported the proposal of Hanoi Zoo to strengthen and diversify genetic sources of EP in VN, an endemic bird of Central Vietnam and currently on the verge of extinction. Continue reading The second group of Edwards’s Pheasant, after decades in Europe, has repatriated

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The first annual meeting in 2015 of VN EPWG in Quang Binh on 16 April 2015

Dong Hoi, Quang Binh – On 16 Apr 2015, in the headquarters of Quang Binh Forest Protection Department (FPD), the 1st annual meeting of Vietnam Edwards’s Pheasant Working Group (VN EPWG) has been organized under the co-chairman of Viet Nature Conservation Centre (Viet Nature) , Coordinator of VN EPWG and Quang Binh FPD. The meeting enjoyed the attendance of representatives from Viet Nature , Forest Protection Department in Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue, Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Ke Go, Dakrong, and Phong Dien Nature Reserve, Bach Ma National Park, and Dong Chau Watershed Protection Forest Management Board.

Continue reading The first annual meeting in 2015 of VN EPWG in Quang Binh on 16 April 2015

Draft Action Plan for the Conservation of Edwards’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi 2015-2020

Hanoi – In preparation for the long term conservation of Edwards’s Pheasant, Viet Nam Edwards’s Pheasant Working Group (VN EPWG) decided to produce an Action Plan for the Conservation of Edwards’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi 2015 -2020. The draft action plan was completed in February 2015 thanks to continuous researching and compiling efforts of Viet Nature Conservation Centre, the Coordinator of VN EPWG. Continue reading Draft Action Plan for the Conservation of Edwards’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi 2015-2020

Edwards's Pheasant Conservation Workshop on 9th July 2014 in Quang Tri, Vietnam

Announcement of the First Biannual meeting of Vietnam Edwards’s Pheasant Working Group in Quang Binh on 16th April 2015

Dong Hoi, Quang Binh – On 16th April 2015, the First Biannual meeting of Vietnam Edwards’s Pheasant Working Group will be held in one day in the headquarters of Quang Binh Provincial Forest Protection Department, under the co-organisation of Viet Nature Conservation Centre, Coordinator of VN EPWG, and Quang Binh Provincial FPD. This is the  first meeting of VN EPWG in 2015, after its establishment in the Edwards’s Pheasant Conservation Workshop in Quang Tri on 9th July 2014. Continue reading Announcement of the First Biannual meeting of Vietnam Edwards’s Pheasant Working Group in Quang Binh on 16th April 2015