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Chinese Monal Lophophorus lhuysii
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a small population, which is thought to be in decline because of on-going habitat degradation and hunting within an already fragmented range.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

75-80 cm. Large, colourful monal with a bushy crest. Male has dazzling, iridescent plumage comprising green head, purplish crest, coppery-golden nape and upper mantle, purplish-green upperparts and tail, whitish lower back, blackish underparts and blue facial skin. Smaller female has less prominent crest, intricately-marked dark greyish and rufous-brown body plumage, streaked pale below, white back and rufous tail, finely barred black. Similar spp. Male Sclater's Monal L. sclateri (in south-west of range) lacks crest, has more extensive white back and white-tipped rufous tail, female has barred underparts, pale (not white) back and a white-tipped tail.

Distribution and population
Lophophorus lhuysii is endemic to south-west China, where it is recorded from the mountains of west Sichuan, and adjacent parts of east Tibet, south-east Qinghai, south Gansu and possibly north-west Yunnan (BirdLife International 2001). Its total population was estimated to number 12,000 individuals during the National Wildlife Survey of China (1995-2000), which failed to record any in Qinghai or Yunnan (Zhang Zhengwang in litt. 2008). It is believed to be declining, although there have been no surveys for the species for several years (Zhang Zhengwang in litt. 2008) and current trends are not quantified.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 10,000-25,000 individuals by He Fenqi. Given the uncertainty within this population estimate, the total number of mature individuals is precautionarily assumed to fall below 10,000, in the population band 2,500-9,999.

Trend justification
Overgrazing by wild yak and the collection of its food plants are degrading the species's habitat and leading to disturbance. This, and localised hunting pressure, is suspected to be driving an on-going decline in the population size, although the likely rate of decline has not been estimated.

It inhabits subalpine rhododendron scrub and subalpine and alpine meadows with exposed cliffs and crags above the treeline, but sometimes moves down into subalpine coniferous forest. It has been recorded between 2,800 m and 4,900 m, but is normally found between 3,300 and 4,500 m. Surveys at Baoxing in Sichuan suggests that this species may take several years to reach maturity and may not breed every year.

Its subalpine and alpine meadow habitats have been degraded in some areas by an increase in the grazing of wild yaks. The large-scale collection of Fritillaria spp. (a known food source for this species) and other herbs for Chinese medicine causes local disturbance, and nests are sometimes destroyed by these activities. Illegal hunting is also considered to be a localised threat, and appeared to be the cause of a substantial decline at Baoxing where this species was surveyed in 1983-1986, and again in 1988. Reports suggest that hunting pressure on the species has increased in recent years (Zhang Zhengwang in litt. 2008). The forests in west Sichuan have been rapidly exploited in recent decades, which has directly affected its subalpine habitats, and logging roads have improved access to alpine habitats for local people.

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. It is a nationally-protected species in China. It has been recorded in several nature reserves in the Qionglai Shan and Min Shan ranges, most of which were established for the conservation of the giant panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca, including Baihe, Tangjiahe, Wanglang, Wolong, Jiuzhaigou and Fengtongzhai in Sichuan, and Baishuijang in Gansu, but the areas of suitable habitat within some of these are probably relatively limited and there are no protected areas in the western part of its range. There have been no surveys for the species for many years and current knowledge of distribution, population numbers and trends is poor (Zhang Zhengwang in litt. 2008). Captive breeding is made challenging by high disease mortality in captivity, but a small breeding population of c.20 individuals has been established in San Diego Zoo, in partnership with the Endangered Species Breeding Centre in Beijing (BirdLife International 2001).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Determine the impacts of human exploitation (including livestock grazing and herb collection) on its subalpine and alpine habitats. Conduct intensive ecological studies focusing on habitat preference and altitudinal migrations. Conduct further surveys to assess the adequacy of the existing protected area network, particularly in the west of its range. Enforce the existing laws on wildlife protection, with particular attention to hunting.  Develop and extend the current captive-breeding programme.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Keane, A.M.; Garson, P.J.; McGowan, P.J. K. in press. Pheasants: status survey and conservation action plan 2005-2009. IUCN and WPA, Gland, Switzerland.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Keane, A., Taylor, J., Khwaja, N.

Lu, X., Rimlinger, D., Zhang, Z., He, F.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Lophophorus lhuysii. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Chinese monal (Lophophorus lhuysii)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Phasianidae (Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse)
Species name author Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1866
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 176,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species