Lady Amherst’s pheas­ant

World of Animals - - Fantastic Pheasants - Once fairly wide­spread in the UK, this bird has al­most been wiped out

The first Amherst’s pheas­ants to ar­rive in Europe were two males, sent to Lon­don in 1828 by Lord Amherst, the gover­nor gen­eral of In­dia. The species was then named after his wife. These strik­ing, grand-look­ing birds did not fare well and sub­se­quently the species was cross-bred with golden pheas­ants. From that time on­wards most of the Amherst’s pheas­ants in the UK have been found to be hy­brids.

Although the species is na­tive to China, in the 1890s a flock was re­leased into the UK coun­try­side near the Woburn Es­tate in Bed­ford­shire. They were cer­tainly an eye-catch­ing ad­di­tion to the na­tive wildlife, but they suf­fered pre­da­tion from foxes and habi­tat loss over the years, mean­ing there are very few, or pos­si­bly none, left in the wild in the UK to­day.

The World Pheas­ant As­so­ci­a­tion is now work­ing to try and re­pro­duce the very few pure birds that look like the orig­i­nal wild birds.

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