Our Neighborhood's Biodiversity Map

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Asia
Catreus wallichii * To See the original image, please click the image
Shared by : Aksana Dallakoti (Nepal)
Region : Himalayas region of India, Nepal, Kashmir and Pakistan
Status : Vulnerable
Introduction
The cheer pheasant also known as Wallich's pheasant is a vulnerable species of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. It is the only member in monotypic genus Catreus. The scientific name commemorates the Danish botanist Nathaniel Wallich.

Cheer Pheasant occurs in the western Himalayas from north Pakistan, through Kashmir into Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, India, and east to central Nepal. In Nepal, it appears to be localized, occurring from the Baitadi district in the west, east to the Kali Gandaki River. The most important area in the country is Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. Surveys conducted here in 1981 and 2003 revealed a slight decline, with a corrected population estimate of 127-212 birds in the valley. It is resident in precipitous, rocky terrain dominated by scrub, tall grass and scattered clumps of trees, most frequently from 1,445-3,050 m, but occasionally down to 950 m at least. Occupied sites are characterized by a combination of low shrubs subject to regular browsing and cutting, with grass growing through spring and summer harvested for livestock fodder in the autumn. It has been recorded in regenerating coniferous and broadleaved forests, as well as juniper and rhododendron on grassy slopes Physical characteristics: Male 90-118 cm, female 61-76 cm. Grey, brown and buff bar-tailed pheasant with long crest and red facial skin. Male has largely plain pale-greyish upper neck and clear, dark barring on upperparts. Female is smaller, somewhat duller and more heavily marked. Males are monogamous. They breed on steep cliffs during summer with a clutch of 10 to 11 eggs.
Threats
Having been widely shot for sport in the early 20th century, it is still hunted for food and trade, and its eggs are collected for local consumption. Indeed, hunters in Nepal claim that they can trap up to 50 birds in one session through the use of snares and live decoys, methods that are widespread in the species’ range. Hunting pressure in Nepal may be exacerbated by increased gun-ownership following the Maoist insurgency, especially in the west of the country. The species is hunted in remote areas to provide a traditional treatment of asthma, body pain and fever, and it may be traded locally, although in some areas local people strictly prohibit hunting. The cheer pheasant is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES. Attempts to reintroduce captive-bred cheer pheasants in Pakistan have been unsuccessful.
Efforts
The species is legally protected in Nepal and India and occurs in a number of protected areas in those countries. Many status surveys have now been conducted in Himachal Pradesh, principally a week-long intensive survey involving 3,000 Forest Department staff in 2005, which was scheduled for repeat in 2008 (L. Mohan in litt. 2007), in Uttarakhand, India (Bish et al. 2007), and in Nepal using a standardised call count methodology along with research into population ecology and habitat preferences (Subedi 2003, Garson and Baral 2006). Surveys have been undertaken in Rara National Park, mid-western Nepal, in 2006 and 2008 (Singh 2009). An awareness-raising project was carried out in the Kali Gandaki Valley by the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, the World Pheasant Association and Bird Conservation Nepal in 2004. Reintroduction in Pakistan is believed to have been unsuccessful. A workshop was held in Kathmandu in April 2006 to share information gathered in five separate studies within the species's range (Garson and Baral 2006). A captive breeding programme, which aims to build a genetically robust safety net population, is under way in Himachal Pradesh (S. P. Dhiman in litt. 2013).

References :
Singh, P. B. Subedi, P. Garson, P. J. Poudyal, L. 2011. Status, habitat use and threats of cheer pheasant Catreus wallichii in and around Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, Nepal. International Journal of Galliformes Conservation 2: 22-30.
http://www.forestrynepal.org/publications/article/5576
http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=266

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