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q he pheasants are among the most popular and colorful of all display birds.
For centuries their exotic appearance, along with relative ease of captive management, have made them common in most avicultural and zoological collections.
No other group of birds has made such an impact on the social and economical history of mankind, since domestic poultry are descendant of the junglefowl, themselves members of the pheasant family. Game Pheasants have been hunted for centuries both in their native distribution and as transplanted sport bird for western man. Few zoo visitors fail to have at least a limited knowledge of what a pheasant is, as they have affected the lives of most people, serving as food source, sport, or as display birds in parks and gardens.
There are 16 genera comprising 48 recognized species of pheasants. In some species there are numerous subspecies or races bringing the number of forms to about 150.
All of the pheasants, including peafowl and junglefowl, are found in Asia except the Congo Peacock of Africa.
During the past 50 years radical changes have taken place in much of Asia which have severely decimated wild populations of many species of pheasants. Human over-population, deforestations, military conflict, coupled with the fact that pheasants are considered good eating and are very colorful, account for the reduction in numbers of wild population.
Political upheaval, over-population and poverty in many Asian countries make protection of rare species in the natural population almost impossible. Therefore, it is most important to maintain a viable, productive population in captivity of these disappearing forms.
Fortunately, most species can be propagated successfully in zoos and private collections if a few essential considerations are given priority.
1. Suitable climatic conditions for the species.
2. Proper, adequate environment.
Most of the species listed as endangered or threatened are receiving attention in captivity and success is being attained with many of these.
The Edwards' Pheasant Lophura edwardsi is a small and beautiful bird first discovered in 1895 with a small distribution in central Vietnam near Hue (Way). It was first imported in 1925 to France by Dr. Jean Delacour, when he brought some 15 individuals to his collection. It was successfully propagated and distributed to zoos and aviculturists in Europe and America. But recently it has become increasingly difficult to breed and abnormalities in plumage are appearing.
Since these birds are likely extinct in the natural distribution, the World Pheasant Association has recently started a Stud Book under the direction of Dr. Tim Love! to attempt to random pair birds as much as possible. To date, 240 birds in 93 collections have been identified and I urge any collections with Edward's to participate in this Stud Book project.