The Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impejanus), also known as the Impeyan monal and Impeyan pheasant, is a bird in the pheasant family, Phasianidae. It is the national bird of Nepal, where it is known as the danphe, and state bird of Uttarakhand, India, where it is known as the monal. It was also the state bird of Himachal Pradesh until 2007. Traditionally, the Himalayan monal has been classified as monophyletic. However, studies have shown that the male Himalayan monal of northwestern India lacks the white rump of other Himalayan monals, and it has more green on the breast, indicating the possibility of a second subspecies.
It is a relatively large-sized pheasant. The bird is about 70 centimetres long. The male weighs up to 2380 grams and the female 2150. The adult male has multicoloured plumage throughout, while the female, as in other pheasants, is more subdued in colour. Notable features in the male include a long, metallic green crest, coppery feathers on the back and neck, and a prominent white rump that is most visible when the bird is in flight. The tail feathers of the male are uniformly rufous, becoming darker towards the tips, whereas the lower tail coverts of females are white, barred with black and red. The female has a prominent white patch on the throat and a white strip on the tail. The first-year male and the juvenile resemble the female, but the first-year male is larger and the juvenile is less distinctly marked.
Distribution and habitat
The Himalayan monal's native range extends from Afghanistan and Pakistan through the Himalayas in India, Nepal, southern Tibet, and Bhutan. In Pakistan, it is most common in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and has also been recorded in Kaghan, Palas Valley, and Azad Kashmir. It lives in upper temperate oak-conifer forests interspersed with open grassy slopes, cliffs and alpine meadows between 2400 and 4500 meters, where it is most common between 2700 and 3700 meters. It descends to 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in the winter. It tolerates snow and digs through it to obtain plant roots and invertebrate prey.
Behaviour and ecology
In some areas, the species is threatened due to poaching and other anthropogenic factors. In the western Himalayas, the local monal population responded negatively to human disturbance involving hydroelectric power development. The male monal was under hunting pressure in Himachal Pradesh, where the crest feather was used to decorate men's hats, until 1982, when hunting was banned in the state.
The pheasant is not considered endangered in Pakistan and can be easily located. In some areas, the population density of the species is as high as five pairs per square mile. The main threat to the species is poaching, as the crest is valuable. It is thought to bring status to its wearer and is a symbol of authority.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Lophophorus impejanus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN: e.T22679182A92806166. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22679182A92806166.en.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-15. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-01-12. Retrieved 2007-01-08.
- "Himalayan Monal". Pheasants of Pakistan. Wildlife of Pakistan. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Jolli, V. and Pandit, M. K. (2011). Influence of human disturbance on the abundance of Himalayan Pheasant (Aves, Galliformes) in the temperate forest of Western Himalaya, India. Vestnik Zoologii 45(6): e40-e47.doi:10.2478/v10058-011-0035-0
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