Ed­wards’ pheas­ant

Meet one of the planet’s rarest fly­ers

World of Animals - - Fantastic Pheasants -

These shim­mer­ing black-and-blue pheas­ants are so rare that they have not been seen in the wild for al­most 20 years. In 2012, Ed­wards’ pheas­ants were listed among the ten most en­dan­gered species in the world by the IUCN. It is now feared that they are ex­tinct in their na­tive Viet­nam and ex­ist only in the safety of cap­tiv­ity.

The species is still listed as Crit­i­cally En­dan­gered on the IUCN Red List, although there is a strong pop­u­la­tion in cap­tiv­ity, al­most all de­scended from a small num­ber of birds cap­tured in the wild in the 1920s.

The World Pheas­ant As­so­ci­a­tion (WPA) sent four pairs of Ed­wards’ pheas­ants to Hanoi Zoo in 1994 and, when a wild-caught male bird was con­fis­cated from poach­ers in 2000, it was res­cued and able to breed with one of the fe­males from the UK. This wild male is the only bird known to have en­tered the breed­ing pro­gramme since the 1920s.

Sude­ley Cas­tle works closely with the World Pheas­ant As­so­ci­a­tion and this year bred five Ed­wards’ pheas­ant chicks – the most that have ever hatched in the pheas­antry. The suc­cess­ful breed­ing of the birds is a huge boost for the cap­tive breed­ing pro­gramme for a species on the very brink of ex­tinc­tion. The healthy cap­tive pop­u­la­tion of this species pro­vides gen­uine hope that this glam­orous bird could one day be re­turned to its nat­u­ral home in the wild.

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