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 Pauxi unicornis

This taxon is Not Recognised as a species by BirdLife International.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Taxonomic note
Pauxi unicornis and P. koepckeae (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as P. unicornis following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Crax unicornis Stotz et al. (1996), Crax unicornis BirdLife International (2004), Crax unicornis unicornis BirdLife International (2004), Crax unicornis unicornis Stotz et al. (1996)

85-95 cm. Large, black cracid with long frontal casque. All-black, with white vent and tip to tail. Bright red bill and pale blue casque. In the Bolivian population the casque is an upright horn while in the Peruvian taxon koepckeae the casque is flattened against the head, shorter and rounder. Koepckeae also has only a thin white tip to the tail. The legs are normally pale red but yellowish in the male in the breeding season. Female like male, but also has a rufous colour phase. Voice In Bolivia song is a booming series of four phrases lasting c.9 seconds and repeated every 15 seconds, final phrase is a far carrying emphatic hmm. In Peru song appears to be a single booming phrase of 3 to 4 notes repeated every 4 seconds. Alarm call is an explosive disyllabic k-sop. Hints Best located when booming during the main part of the breeding season (probably August-December in Bolivia, November to March in Peru), but separation of Bolivian taxon from booming Razor-billed Curassow Mitu tuberosa is difficult unless close enough to hear all phrases.

Distribution and population
Pauxi unicornis is known from two disjunct populations in central Bolivia and central Peru. The nominate subspecies is known from the adjacent Amboró and Carrasco National Parks (Cox et al. 1997, Herzog and Kessler 1998, Mee 1999, R. MacLeod in litt. 2000) and has recently been found in Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) and along the outer edge of the Cordillera Mosetenes, Cochabamba, Bolivia (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007). It was formerly found along the length of Carrasco's northern boundary (R. MacLeod in litt. 2000), but recent surveys found it in very few locations here (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007). Despite the apparently large gap in its range (B. Hennessey in litt. 1999), extensive searches over several years have failed to locate the species in Madidi National Park, La Paz, Bolivia (R. MacLeod in litt. 2003, Hennessey 2004a, A. Maccormack in litt. 2004), in the rio Tambopata area near the Peru/Bolivia border (R. MacLeod in litt. 2004, Gastañaga and Hennessey 2005) and in the Cordillera Cocapata and along the inner edge of Cordillera Mosetenes in Cochabamba (R. MacLeod in litt. 2003, R. MacLeod in litt. 2007). The subspecies koepckeae , known only from the Cerros del Sira in Huánuco, Peru, had gone unrecorded since its description in 1969 but its continued presence was established by local knowledge surveys in 2003 and observations in 2005 (Gastañaga 2006). Previous field surveys, including one in 2004, found no birds and local reports suggest that it is very rare here (Mee et al. 2002, A. Maccormack in litt. 2004, R. MacLeod in litt. 2004). The total population for the subspecies in Peru is estimated to be less than 400 individuals in Cerros del Sira (Gastañaga in litt. 2007),with evidence that its numbers are declining (Gastañaga and Hennessey 2005). The species occurs at densities of up to 20 individuals/km2, although this appears to be exceptional and at most sites only one or two individuals have been found (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007).

The nominate taxon inhabits dense, humid, lower montane forest and adjacent lowland evergreen forest at 450-1,400 m (R. MacLeod in litt. 2000, Gastañaga 2006, Maillard 2006). For much of the year it stays above 550 m, but descends in the dry season (Renjifo and Renjifo 1997). At any one part of its range the species tends to be restricted to an altitudinal band of c.500 m but the upper and lower limits of this vary from location to location. The Peruvian taxon inhabits cloud forest which in Cerros del Sira is found at altitudes of around 1100-1450 m and above, although in the dry season individuals have also occasionally been found somewhat lower (down to 950 m) along the upper edge adjacent montane forest. Its diet consists of fruit, seeds, soft plants, larvae and insects. Display songs and pairing have been noted from August (R. MacLeod in litt. 2000), with a nest found during October (Cox et al. 1997). The clutch-size is probably two (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007), as in other Cracidae, although in the only nest over found there was only one egg) and consequently it has a low reproductive rate (Cox et al. 1997, Renjifo and Renjifo 1997, Banks 1998). In Peru the peak singing (and presumably breeding) period appears to be in February and March (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007).

In Bolivia, forests within its altitudinal range are being cleared for the cultivation of staple and export crops by recent colonists from the altiplano (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Fjeldså in litt. 1999, Maillard 2006). Road-building and associated rural development have a negative impact and inhibit dispersal (Herzog and Kessler 1998, Fjeldså in litt. 1999). Hunting for its meat seems to be the biggest threat in both Bolivia and Peru and is likely to be having a serious negative impact in all parts of its range (Gastañaga 2006). In Peru, subsistence agriculture threatens its habitat (R. MacLeod in litt. 2000), as does opening up the foothills to colonisation and hunting. Mining, oil exploration and illegal logging are potential future threats in El Sira as well as forest clearance by colonists.

Conservation Actions Underway
Large parts of its range are theoretically protected by Amboró and Carrasco National Parks and TIPNIS (although these protected areas are seriously threatened and have suffered from recent invasions [MacLeod et al. 2006]), and it was recorded within the El Sira Communal Reserve although hunting still takes place here (Gastañaga and Hennessey 2005, Gastañaga in litt. 2007, Graham 2009). Extensive surveys have been conducted in recent years but have met with little success in locating the species in many areas (Mee et al. 2002, R. MacLeod in litt. 2003, Hennessey 2004a, A. Maccormack in litt. 2004, R. MacLeod in litt. 2004). An education project to combat hunting and raise awareness was carried out in the Sira mountains in 2005 (Gastañaga 2005). Conservation Actions Proposed
Nominate unicornis (Bolivia): Conduct field studies to locate and estimate the size of the surviving population and to determine its conservation requirements and vulnerability to human encroachment. Work with the Carrasco and Amboro National Parks and local communities to develop and implement conservation management plans for the species and its habitat. Develop work with local educators and schools to inform local people about the conservation importance and uniqueness of the species and its habitat to their area. Work with local communities to promote a community based hunting ban for the species and to reduce human pressure on its habitat. Identify and implement measures that will measurably improve the livelihoods of the local communities in return for their assistance in conserving the species. Taxon koepckae (Peru): Continue working with communities around Cerros del Sira in conducting local knowledge surveys about the distribution of the species and in raising awareness of its unique status. Identify and implement measures that will measurably improve the livelihoods of the local indigenous communities in return for their essential assistance in conserving the species through a community enforced hunting ban. Obtain a series of sound recordings and behavioural observations to be used in combination with the known physical differences to determine if the Peruvian taxon is a unique species. Conduct field studies of the ecology of the Peruvian taxon in order to estimate the size of the surviving population, determine its conservation requirements and vulnerability to human encroachment. Work with INRENA (the protected areas authority) to develop and implement a conservation management plan for the species and its habitat (MacLeod et al. 2006).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Banks, K. 1998. Breeding the Southern Helmeted Curassow at Birdworld. Avicultural Magazine 104: 152-156.

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Cox, G.; Read, J. M.; Clarke, R. O. S.; Easty, V. S. 1997. Studies of Horned Curassow Pauxi unicornis in Bolivia. Bird Conservation International 7: 199-211.

Dinerstein, E.; Olson, D. M.; Graham, D. J.; Webster, A. L.; Primm, S. A.; Bookbinder, M. P.; Ledec, G. 1995. A conservation assesssment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Gastañaga, M. 2006. Peruvian Horned Curassow (Pauxi unicornis koepckeae) rediscovered in the Sira Mountains, Peru. Bulletin of the Cracid Specialist Group 22: 15-18.

Gastañaga, M.; Hennessey, A. B.; MacLeod, R. 2007. Rediscovery of Southern Horned Curassow Pauxi unicornis koepckeae in Cerros del Sira, Peru. Cotinga 28: 63-66.

Gastanaga, M. 2005. Southern Horned Curassow (Pauxi unicornis koepckeae) conservation project in Sira Mountains, Peru (October 2005): education project report.

Gastanaga, M., Macleod, R., Hennessey, B., Nunez, J.U., Puse, E., Arrascue, A., Hoyos, J., Chambi, W.M., Vasquez, J. and Engblom, G. 2011. A study of the parrot trade in Peru and the potential importance of internal trade for threatened species. Bird Conservation International 21(1): 76-85.

Hennessey, A. B. 2004. A bird survey of Torcillo-Sarayoj, the lower Yungas of Madidi National Park, Bolivia. Cotinga: 73-78.

Herzog, S. K.; Fjeldså, J.; Kessler, M.; Balderrama, J. A. 1999. Ornithological surveys in the Cordillera Cocapata, depto Cochabamba, Bolivia, a transition zone between humid and dry intermontane Andean habitats. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 119: 162-177.

Herzog, S. K.; Kessler, M. 1998. In search of the last Horned Curassows Pauxi unicornis in Bolivia. Cotinga 10: 46-50.

Macleod, R.; Soria, R.; Gastañaga, M. 2006. Horned Curassow (Pauxi unicornis. In: Brooks, D. M. (ed.), Conserving cracids: the most threatened family of birds in the Americas, pp. 61-63. Misc. Pub. Houston Mus. Nat. Sci.

Maillard, O.Z. 2006. Reciente espécimen de la pava copete de piedra (Pauxi unicornis) para Bolivia. Kempffiana 2(1): 95-98.

Mee, A. 1999. Habitat association and notes on the Southern Helmeted Curassow (Pauxi unicornis) in Parque Nacional Carrasco, Bolivia. 9: 15-19.

Mee, A.; Ohlson, J.; Stewart, I.; Wilson, M.; Örn, P.; Ferreyra, J. D. 2002. The Cerros del Sira revisited: birds of submontane and montane forest. Cotinga 18: 46-57.

Renjifo, J.; Renjifo, J. T. 1997. Pauxi unicornis: Biologia y Ecologia. In: Strahl, S.D.; Beaujon, S.; Brooks, D.M.; Begazo, A.J.; Sedaghatkish, G.; Olmos, F. (ed.), The Cracidae: their biology and conservation, pp. 89-92. Hancock House, Surrey, Canada.

Young, K. R.; León, B. 1999. Peru's humid eastern montane forests: an overview of their physical settings, biological diversity, human use and settlement, and conservation needs. Centre for Research on Cultural and Biological Diversity of Andean Rainforests (DIVA), Ronde, Denmark.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Keane, A., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Fjeldså, J., Gastañaga, M., Hennessey, A., Lloyd, H., MacLeod, R., Maccormack, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Pauxi unicornis. Downloaded from on 28/05/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/05/2015.

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

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Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Southern helmeted curassow (Pauxi unicornis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Not Recognised
Family Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, Curassows)
Species name author Bond & Meyer de Schauensee, 1939