Conservation Status: IUCN Red List – Least Concern to Near Threatened
Threats to Survival: Habitat loss and modification; illegal hunting
Understanding Pheasant Behavior
Chinese pheasants are a group of large-bodied, ground-dwelling birds, of which the male plumage is typically colorful and ornate. Although many species of Chinese pheasants have been introduced to wild places in the Western world in order to facilitate hunting opportunities, little is known about the behavior of these species in their native habitats in China. San Diego Zoo’s Bird Department worked with our Global Partnerships team to mount camera traps in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in Guizhou, China, to document the presence and monitor the behavior of pheasants in a variety of microhabitats. Some of the behavior observed thus far has been inadequately documented in birds reared in zoo environments, and so this information adds new dimensions to our understanding of the natural behavior of these reclusive species.
Improving Wild Management
Although China has an extensive system of reserves, many of these experience human-induced degradation. Conservation management strategies for species within reserves will be better informed by the insights gleaned from our camera trap study. Further, collaborative efforts with our partners will build capacity among in-country biologists to continue to monitor and preserve pheasants in their habitat.
Connecting People to Nature
Fanjingshan Reserve is a steep, sloping area now primarily traversed by tourists in gondolas. Wildlife in the interior of the reserve is often out of view. Our camera trap photos will be used to enhance education endeavors within and near the reserve, to promote an appreciation of the biodiversity across the region, and to stimulate interest in conservation practices. As part of this effort, we will develop a biodiversity curriculum to be taught in elementary schools near Fanjingshan to promote the growth of conservation-minded Chinese scholars.