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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.

The import of these birds went through various CITES procedures as well as strict veterinary control in several months. During the first annual meeting of Vietnam Edwards’s Pheasant Working Group (VN EPWG) in Quang Binh in April 2015, Mr. Dang Gia Tung, Chairman of Hanoi Zoo said: “We are obliged that WPA actively assisted us throughout the process, and that Prague Zoo has selected fertile individuals whose genes are unrelated to our existing birds in Hanoi Zoo.”

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Mr. Dang Gia Tung, Chairman of Hanoi Zoo and the newly arrived Edwards’s Pheasant on 27th May 2015

Copyright © Mr. Dang Gia Tung, Chairman of Hanoi Zoo

According to the Action Plan for the Conservation of Edwards’s Pheasant 2015-2020 vision to 2030, highest priorities have been given to the selection and protection of pure genetic sources of EP, aiming to prevent inbreeding and its morphology (such as Vietnamese Pheasant Lophura hatinhensis), while at the same time create the basic gene pool for the conservation campaign and its reintroduction into the wild if deemed necessary. Mr. Le Trong Trai, Director of Viet Nature Conservation Centre, Coordinator of VN EPWG stated: “Coping with the critical status of the species in the wild, greatest efforts should be spent on protecting and preserving natural habitats within its historical range, and promoting the conservation breeding programme. The group who has arrived in Hanoi Zoo is descendants of the original ancestors relocated to Europe nearly one century ago. They represent precious seeds for the conservation breeding programme and reintroduction in their natural homeland – Anamese Lowlands.”
IMG_3058Mr. Dang Gia Tung, representative of ex-situ conservation group, and Mr. Le Trong Trai, representative of in-situ conservation group, at Edwards’s Pheasant’s aviary in Hanoi Zoo

Copyright © Viet Nature Conservation Centre

Being named after the French ornithologist Alphonse Milne-Edwards, Edwards’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi was first described in 1896. Since then, it has always been a “mysterious” species and very few people have actually caught its sightings out in the wild. Its current population varies from 50 to 249 mature individuals, thus pushing its status to Critically Endangered in IUCN Red List. Realizing the bleakness of its survival prospects, in-situ and ex-situ experts are tensely mobilizing essential resources from international and national sources. Respective representatives of the two groups, Mr. Le Trong Trai and Mr. Dang Gia Tung also update and share information, expressing a long-term commit, on a regular basis.

After receiving the wild male from Quang Tri Forest Protection Department in 1997, no reinforcement has been provided for Hanoi Zoo until recently. At this time, the newly arrived EPs are being cared for by experienced staff in Hanoi, and would mate with the existing ones once they are ready. They are expected to give birth to healthy juveniles, placing a milestone in the conservation of EP, and allowing the species to securely return home.