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Crestless Fireback Lophura erythrophthalma

The continuing rapid reduction in extent and quality of this pheasant's lowland rainforest habitat, across most of its known range, implies a rapid population reduction and justifies its classification as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Taxonomic note

Lophura erythrophthalma and L. pyronota (del Hoyo et al. 2013) were previously lumped as L. erythrophthalma following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Male 47-51 cm, female 42-44 cm. Dark pheasant with short, black-based, caramel-coloured tail. Male, blackish (glossed purplish-blue) with fine whitish vermiculations on upperparts and breast-sides. Female, blackish overall (glossed dark purplish- to greenish-blue) with browner head, paler throat and largely glossless dark tail, centre of belly, vent and flight feathers. Juvenile (both sexes) like female but with rusty-tipped body feathers. Similar spp. Male easily told from Crested Fireback L. ignita by red facial skin, plain underparts and distinctive tail, but care should be taken to separate it from Salvadori's Pheasant L. inornata. Voice Low tak-takrau, vibrating throaty purr and loud kak when alarmed. Low clucking when foraging.

Distribution and population
Lophura erythrophthalma occurs in Peninsular and East Malaysia, Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia, and Brunei. There are few recent records from Borneo, where it appears to be scarce and localised, mainly in the south and west. There are just a handful of recent records from Sumatra, all from Riau and Jambi provinces. At select sites it has been recorded at densities of up to six birds per km2. However, it is not a widespread species and appears to be localised suggesting the total population is moderately small, although it is probably under-recorded owing to its occurrence in less accessible peat forest and karst forest (B. van Balen in litt. 2012). Continuing forest clearance throughout the Indonesian lowlands must be causing a rapid decline, which is also likely to be the case outside well-protected areas in Peninsular Malaysia.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals, although it is now likely to be at the lower end of this range (B. van Balen in litt. 2012). An estimate of 10,000-19,999 mature individuals equates to 15,000-29,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 15,000-30,000 individuals.

Trend justification
This species is threatened by rapid habitat loss and probably hunting pressure, and is consequently suspected to be declining rapidly.

It is an extreme lowland specialist, inhabiting primary and well-regenerated, closed canopy, evergreen forest. Birds in Malaysia are tolerant of logged forest, and it has been recorded in lightly logged forest on Sumatra. However, precise details of its habitat preferences, and its ecological interactions with its congener L. ignita, are lacking. Where L. ignita is present, L. erythrophthalma appears to avoid valley-bottom habitats.

The overriding threats are habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation as a result of large-scale commercial logging, even within some protected areas, and widespread clearance for plantations of rubber and oil-palm. Rates of forest loss in the Sundaic lowlands have been extremely rapid (Kalimantan lost nearly 25% of its evergreen forest during 1985-1997, and Sumatra lost almost 30% of its 1985 cover), because of a variety of factors, including the escalation of illegal logging and land conversion. A significant issue currently is selective logging in an array of forest reserves (not protected areas per se) that results in habitat degradation, including degradation of any unknown features that influence habitat selection by this species, and opens the forest to fire risk, reduced value, and conversion to agriculture in future. Hunting for food may pose an additional, more localised threat.

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in several protected areas, including Taman Negara and Krau Wildlife Reserve (Malaysia), Gunung Mulu National Park (Sarawak) and Tanjung Puting National Park (Kalimantan). At the end of 2002 there were 49 individuals in captivity in Europe and a further 43 in Malaysia (A. Hennache in litt. 2004). The European captive population is not thought to be currently viable in the long term due to diminishing genetic diversity (A. Hennache in litt. 2004). Conservation Actions Proposed
Advocate full protection under Indonesian and Malaysian law. Conduct further research into its ecological requirements, including its relationship with L. ignita. Conduct extensive field surveys to establish its distribution and population status in Sumatra and assess its use of recently burned areas Following surveys and GIS analysis, review whether key populations are adequately represented within the existing protected areas network, and advocate protection of further areas if necessary. Promote the concept of Forest Management Units in Sabah (99-year concessions of great size). Assist forest managers in habitat identification and zoning of concession areas. Develop support mechanisms for key IBAs in Peninsular Malaysia. Promote the careful management of captive stocks including the establishment of a studbook.

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

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).

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

Davison, G., Hennache, A., van Balen, B.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Lophura erythrophthalma. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014.

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 - Crestless fireback (Lophura erythrophthalma) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Phasianidae (Grouse, pheasants and partridges)
Species name author (Raffles, 1822)
Population size 10000-19999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,090,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species