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Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This magnificent pheasant is classified as Near Threatened owing to a suspected moderately rapid population decline resulting from unsustainable exploitation and a reduction in the extent and quality of its evergreen 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.

Rheinartia ocellata Collar and Andrew (1988)

Male 190-239 cm, female 74-75 cm. Large pheasant with enormous tail. Male blackish-brown, peppered whitish all over. R. o. nigrescens has buff supercilium and throat and drooping, blackish-brown and white crest. R. o. ocellata has shorter, mostly brownish crest, white supercilium and throat, chestnut-brown foreneck, more numerous, smaller, buffier upperpart markings and more dark chestnut and grey on tail. Female is smaller, shorter-tailed and warm brown with blackish and buff bars, speckles and vermiculations. Somewhat paler below. Voice At dancing ground, very loud woo'o-wao. Also series of far-carrying oowaaaa phrases.

Distribution and population
Rheinardia ocellata is endemic to South-East Asia. The nominate subspecies occurs along the Annamite mountain chain in central and southern Vietnam and neighbouring eastern Laos, south to the Da Lat Plateau in southern Vietnam. The range of subspecies nigrescens is wider than once thought, including the eastern flank of the East Coast Range of Peninsular Malaysia, although it is restricted to a narrow altitudinal band (D. Wells in litt. 2005). Previously it had been known only from eight sites within, or very close to, Taman Negara National Park. Although the species's range and habitat have been reduced and fragmented in Laos and Vietnam, and a substantial population decline has occurred there in the past century, the nominate subspecies is still relatively widespread and locally common.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
N. Brickle in litt. (2004) and J. Eames in litt. (2004) argue that there is little to suggest that the overall population is in decline, although the species is threatened by locally high hunting pressure and continuing habitat loss, thus a moderately rapid decline is precautionarily suspected.

In Laos and Vietnam, it is resident in primary and secondary evergreen forest from sea-level up to 1,500 m, and from 1,700-1,900 m on the Da Lat Plateau. It has been frequently recorded from degraded forest habitats, including active logging concessions (N. Brickle in litt. 2004). It occurs at its highest densities in moist primary forest in lowlands up to c.900 m. In Malaysia, it inhabits tall hill dipterocarp/lower montane transitional forest, generally from c.800-1,100 m.

The Indo-Chinese population is probably most at risk from continuing forest loss and degradation, both within and outside protected areas. The greatest problems stem from commercial logging, illegal timber extraction, clearance for agricultural plantations, encroachment by shifting cultivators and road-building. Disturbance and snaring at display arenas are more significant threats than deforestation in some areas. The Malaysian population is less threatened, with the main documented threat being limited habitat loss on the periphery of Taman Negara, although its narrow altitudinal range in this country lies mostly outside protected areas, exposing it to disturbance from logging (D. Wells in litt. 2005).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. It occurs in numerous protected areas, including Bach Ma National Park and at least 10 nature reserves in Vietnam, at least two designated and two proposed National Biodiversity Conservation Areas in Laos, and Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia. Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey suitable habitat in Laos and Vietnam to clarify its current distribution and assess its abundance in relation to habitat degradation. Regularly monitor the Malaysian population and selected populations in Laos and Vietnam. Promote strict enforcement of hunting regulations in protected areas supporting populations, in combination with locally-targeted conservation awareness initiatives. Conduct taxonomic research into the relationship between the Malaysian and Indo-Chinese populations.

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

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
Davidson, G., Benstead, P., Keane, A., Mahood, S., Taylor, J.

Brickle, N., Eames, J.C., Wells, D.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Rheinardia ocellata. 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 - Crested argus (Rheinardia ocellata) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Phasianidae (Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse)
Species name author (Elliot, 1871)
Population size 6000-15000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 99,700 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species