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Mountain Peacock-pheasant Polyplectron inopinatum
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Vulnerable because it has a small, fragmented range and population, which are suspected to be declining slowly. It may warrant uplisting in the future if plans (which have currently been suspended) to build a road are reinstated.

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.

Male 65 cm, female 46 cm. Dark peacock-pheasant with blackish underparts. Similar spp. From allopatric Malayan Peacock Pheasant P. malacense by much smaller, dark bluish ocelli on upperside, strong chestnut tinge to lower upperparts, darker tail with no obvious rings around dark green ocelli, dark greyish head and neck with whitish speckles and blackish underparts. Females have smaller black ocelli and shorter, less graduated tail with almost no ocelli. Voice Male territorial call is series of 1-4 fairly loud, harsh clucks or squawks.

Distribution and population
Polyplectron inopinatum is currently only known from central Peninsular Malaysia, although there is growing evidence of its presence in extreme southern Thailand. In Malaysia it is found in the Main Range from the Cameron Highlands south to the Genting Highlands, in the Larut Range to the north-west, and on eastern outlying peaks Gunung Tahan and Gunung Benom. There are recent records from at least 12 localities, at two of which it has been described as common. Total numbers are likely to be small, owing to its highly restricted range and general relative scarcity within it. At present, the population is believed to be declining slowly.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Slow declines are suspected owing to on-going conversion of habitat around the species's lower altitudinal limit. However, although a proposal to build a road linking several hill stations within its range have been shelved, if this goes ahead in the future it would have serious impacts on the species.

It is sedentary in lower and upper montane evergreen forest, including elfin forest, from c.820 m to at least 1,600 m, and was once found at 1,800 m. It is usually found in steep areas or along ridges with exposed corestones, some bamboo and climbing palms. It is less vocal than other members of the genus, and is hence less easily detectable.

Conversion of forest for agriculture around its lower altitudinal limits may be causing some declines. Tourist developments continue to drive the fragmentation and degradation of forest in the Cameron Highlands (J. Taylor pers. obs. 2011). There is a considerable danger that a proposed north-south road linking the hill stations of Genting Highlands, Fraser's Hill and Cameron Highlands will result in the further fragmentation and degradation of a substantial area of its montane habitat. These plans have been shelved, but should they be raised again, the species may warrant uplisting.

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in at least three protected areas, Taman Negara (which encompasses Gunung Tahan, and various other peaks where it could occur), Krau Wildlife Reserve (which incorporates one-third of the flanks of Gunung Benom) and the very small Fraser's Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. PERHILITAN is embarking on a captive breeding and release programme having captured three males and two females from the Cameron Highlands for this purpose (Yeap Chin Aik in litt. 2007). Conservation Actions Proposed
Develop a robust monitoring protocol and monitor populations at known sites. Conduct surveys to assess its habitat preferences, clarify its distribution and population status within its known range, and to establish whether it occurs to the north of this range. Use as a flagship species to lobby for a substantial new protected area in the Main Range. Develop support mechanisms for key IBAs in Peninsular Malaysia and support the establishment of this, and further, captive breeding programmes.

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., Taylor, J.

Aik, Y., Davison, G., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Polyplectron inopinatum. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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 - Mountain peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron inopinatum) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Phasianidae (Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse)
Species name author (Rothschild,1903)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 12,700 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species