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Congo Peafowl Afropavo congensis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Vulnerable because it is assumed to have a small population which is suspected to be in decline, owing to ongoing hunting and habitat loss, exacerbated by the impacts of war and refugees. Surveys suggest that large areas within its range are unoccupied, implying that the population is divided into small subpopulations.

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.

64-70 cm. Shy peafowl with green upperparts. Male has dark bronze-green upperparts and black underparts, short black and dense white, bristly crown, naked red throat. Violet-blue wing-coverts, breast feathers and end of tail feathers. Lead-grey bill and grey feet. Long spur on each leg. Female slightly smaller, rusty-brown with glossy green upperparts and short brown crown. Voice Most frequently heard call a duet with 20-30 repetitions. Male gives high-pitched gowe, female replies with low gowah. Duets usually preceded by loud rro-ho-ho-o-a.

Distribution and population
Afropavo congensis occurs in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Research in 1993-1995 confirmed its presence in 13 out of 20 survey areas, although it was not abundant in any.  This work also identified new sites that significantly extend the species's range north-east into the Ituri Forest (Hart and Upoki 1997). Subsequently, it was also located north of the Lomako river and along the Yekokora river (Dupain and van Krunkelsven 1996), as well as further south between the Lukenie and Sankuru rivers (Thompson 1996). Forest between the Lomami and Congo rivers may also hold significant concentrations, but information from that area remains limited (Hart and Upoki 1997). 

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals. In 2004-2005, fieldwork in Salonga National Park gave a sighting rate of one individual every 9.03 km.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to habitat loss and hunting pressure, the latter of which appears to be higher than expected (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2007). Future declines will depend in part on negotiations on the future level of forest exploitation (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2007).

It occurs in many different forest types but is often associated with slopes between watersheds with shallow soils supporting dry forest with an open understorey (Hart and Upoki 1997). The species appears to prefer high canopy and litter cover (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2007). Its sparse and irregular distribution may correspond in part to the limited availability of this habitat type (Hart and Upoki 1997). The species is not restricted solely to primary forest, old secondary forest adjacent to primary forest is heavily used at least for foraging (Mulotwa et al. 2010). It does not appear to have a specialised diet, and has been recorded eating fruit from common tree species throughout the region (Hart and Upoki 1997), as well as insects and other invertebrates (McGowan 1994, Mulotwa et al. 2006). The breeding season may depend on local rainfall conditions (McGowan 1994). The species occurs at low density; in Salonga National Park a sighting rate of one individual every 9.03km was recorded during 2004/5 (Mulotwa et al. 2010).

Historically, its population was probably reduced by forest clearance and hunting (Lovel undated). Presently, habitat is being lost to mining, subsistence agriculture and logging at several locations (Hart and Upoki 1997). Mining and associated human settlement result in the opening up of remote areas (Hart 1994), with a corresponding increase in subsistence and commercial hunting (Hart and Upoki 1997). Surveys and questionnaires have revealed high hunting pressure in the Kisangani region and around Salonga National Park (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2005). The capture rate of the species for each village in and around the Salonga National Park is around 20 birds per year, and it is usually targeted with wire snares, which are sometimes baited (Mulotwa et al. 2006). Capture in snares set for small mammals and antelope is probably widespread (Hart and Upoki 1997). In addition, the species's eggs are collected (Mulotwa et al. 2007). The presence of guerrilla fighters and huge numbers of Rwandan refugees in the eastern DRC since 1994 also poses a significant threat (Hart and Upoki 1997, P. Garson in litt. 2003) because of increased hunting and habitat loss (N. Burgess in litt. 2003, P. Garson in litt. 2003).

Conservation Actions Underway
The species has been studied in detail at Antwerp Zoo (Belgium) since the start of a breeding programme there in 1962 (Van Bocxstaele undated), including considerable research into its taxonomy (Lovel undated). Captive breeding has also taken place or been attempted at other zoos, although all such efforts have been limited by difficulties such as the species's susceptibility to disease (Lovel undated). The successful conservation of this species may depend on populations in protected areas where there is some possibility that hunting can be limited or banned (Hart and Upoki 1997). Currently, important populations exist in the Maiko and probably also Salonga National Parks, where there is potential for long-term conservation (Hart and Upoki 1997, E. Mulotwa in litt. 2005). It also occurs in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and the Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Hart and Upoki 1997). Several new conservation projects concerning forests within the species range are under development (N. Burgess in litt. 2003) and ecological research is being conducted in Salonga National Park (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2005). Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to assess its distribution and habitat requirements, focusing on the Maiko, Kahuzi-Biega and Salonga National Parks, the Lomako Yekokala reserve, and the southern part of the species's range in the Kasaï Provinces and Opala locality in Kisangani region. Research ways in which to establish successful captive breeding populations.  Conduct research to assess the socio-economic importance of bushmeat hunting, and evaluate the potential for sustainable use and livelihood alternatives. Continue education campaigns designed to mitigate bushmeat hunting within the region. Improve the protection of nature reserves and national parks where the species occurs. Build capacity in the number of staff at nature reserves and national parks where the species occurs to allow surveys to be carried out (E. Mulotwa in litt. 2007).

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Dupain, J.; Van Krunkelsven, E. 1996. Recent observations of the Congo Peacock Afropavo congensis in the Equateur Province, Zaire. Ostrich 67: 94-95.

Fuller, R. A.; Garson, P. J. 2000. Pheasants. Status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. IUCN and the World Pheasant Association, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Hart, J. A. 1994. Survey and status of the Congo Peafowl in eastern Zaire---progress report (March--June 1994). Annual Review of the World Pheasant Association 1994: 44-48.

Hart, J. A.; Upoki, A. 1997. Distribution and conservation status of Congo Peafowl Afropavo congensis in eastern Zaire. Bird Conservation International 7: 295-316.

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.

Lovel, T.W. I. 1975-1976. The Present status of the Congo Peacock. World Pheasant Association Journal: 48-57.

McGowan, P. J. K. 1994. Phasianidae (Pheasants and Partridges). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 434-552. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Mulotwa, M.; Louette, M.; Dudu, A.; Upoki, A. 2006. W.A.O.S. research grant report: the Congo Peafowl Afropavo congensis in Salongo National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo). Malimbus 28(2): 143-144.

Mulotwa, M.; Louette, M.; Dudu, A.; Upoki, A.; Fuller, R. A. 2010. Congo Peafowl use both primary and regenerating forest in Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo. Ostrich 81(1): 1-6.

Thompson, J. A. M. 1996. New information about the presence of the Congo Peafowl. World Pheasant Association News 50: 3-8.

van Bocxstaele, R. Undated. The Congo Peafowl Afropavus congensis Chapin. Including some new facts concerning the history of the bird in nature and the captive breeding program at Antwerp Zoo.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Keane, A., Martin, R, Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Taylor, J., Allinson, T, Symes, A.

Burgess, N., Garson, P., Keane, A., McGowan, P., Mulotwa, E.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Afropavo congensis. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

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 - Congo peafowl (Afropavo congensis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Phasianidae (Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse)
Species name author Chapin, 1936
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 701,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change