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Malay Peacock-pheasant Polyplectron malacense
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has undergone a rapid population decline and its small population is becoming increasingly fragmented with progressive erosion of its specialised lowland forest habitat.

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 50-53.5 cm, female 40-45 cm. Rusty-brown, crested peacock-pheasant. Similar spp. Warmer brown than extralimital Grey Peacock-pheasant P. bicalcaratum, with greener ocelli, long, dark green-glossed crest, blacker crown and hindneck, darker ear-coverts (contrast with pale surround), orange-pink facial skin and plainer underparts. Female, smaller and shorter tailed, with very short crest, blacker and more pointed ocelli, indistinct paler scaling above, more uniform underparts and yellower facial skin. Voice Male territorial call is loud, slow, melancholy puu pwoii (second note more drawn and rising). Also, sudden explosive cackle, running to throaty clucks: tchi-tchi-tchao-tchao wuk-wuk-wuk-wuk-wuk.

Distribution and population
Polyplectron malacense is endemic to Peninsular Malaysia and possibly southern peninsular Thailand. Reports of its occurrence in Sumatra have been refuted, and evidence for its occurrence in Myanmar is flawed. It is possibly already extinct in Thailand, and its range in Malaysia has contracted dramatically - in 1997, it remained in just 54% of localities known before 1970. Remaining subpopulations are now restricted to a few forest blocks in which they are unevenly distributed, although it is apparently still common in several protected areas.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 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 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be declining rapidly, owing to on-going habitat loss and fragmentation and localised hunting pressure.

It is an extreme lowland specialist, resident in tall primary and secondary (including lightly logged) lowland dipterocarp forest, usually from just 15 to 80 m, and never above c.300 m, on level or gently sloping ground. Studies have found increased calling levels and numbers of display scrapes in mast fruiting years, when there are higher invertebrate densities, suggesting that distribution and reproductive output may be limited by food supply.

Lowland forest clearance and modification for cultivation remain the major threats. Only 25% of suitable habitat that was available for the species prior to 1970 remains today. Hunting for food, sport and the bird trade presumably contributed to its probable extinction in Thailand. Whilst it is susceptible to snaring targeted at all ground foraging animals, there is no evidence to indicate it is particularly sought after in Malaysia.

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Important populations occur in at least two protected areas, Taman Negara and Krau Wildlife Reserve, and further populations have been reported at Sungai Dusun Wildlife Reserve (Selangor) and a number of Forest Reserves that do not qualify as protected areas under wildlife legislation, including Pasoh (Negeri Sembilan). PERHILITAN is embarking on a captive breeding and release programme with plans to release birds in parts of its historic range (Yeap Chin Aik in litt. 2007). Conservation Actions Proposed
Determine its precise habitat requirements and response to habitat alterations. Conduct surveys to clarify current distribution patterns and subpopulation status for all known populations, particularly in and around Taman Negara and Krau Support proposals for heightened status and stricter management guidelines and protection measures at Krau Wildlife Reserve. Develop support mechanisms for key IBAs in peninsular Malaysia and support and extend captive-breeding efforts.

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.

Aik, Y., Davison, G.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Polyplectron malacense. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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 - Malaysian peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron malacense) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Phasianidae (Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse)
Species name author (Scopoli, 1786)
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 117,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species