Distance Learning: Conservation Across Continents
Conservationists from different sides of the globe are working together to save a rare jungle bird.
Staff from a collection of organisations including Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Viet Nature, a Vietnamese NGO (Non-Government Organisation), have been swapping both tips and techniques on how to keep and rear Edward’s pheasant.
Edward’s Pheasant not seen for 20 years
Edward’s Pheasant is a species that hasn’t been seen in the wild for nearly 20 years.
During the summer three conservationists from Vietnam visited Paignton Zoo.
Paignton Zoo Senior Head Keeper of Birds, Pete Smallbones, then accompanied them to Vietnam for a three-week visit to catch up with progress on the construction of the aviaries.
The aviaries will be used for the breeding of this shy bird with the shimmering dark blue feathers.
Curator of Birds at Paignton Zoo, Jo Gregson said:
The three who came here are trained foresters, so they know the habitat but not the birds. They’ve taken research methods and husbandry skills back that will help them in their efforts to save the Edward’s pheasant. Ultimately, you want local people to take ownership of their projects – our aim is to assist them in the early stages
Working alongside Paignton Zoo
The Vietnamese conservationists are working alongside Paignton Zoo keepers, learning about pheasant care and how to catch up and ring birds safely.
The Vietnamese conservationists had talks from other Zoo departments including Education, Vets, Gardens and Field Conservation and Research, as well as meeting representatives from the World Pheasant Association.
Back in Vietnam
Meanwhile, over 6,000 miles away, conservation NGO Viet Nature has built a project station near to the Knoc Trong forest.
Construction has now started on a small block of holding aviaries for the first breeding pairs of birds.
Jo went on to say:
The design of the aviaries has been carefully considered by zoo experts. Peter will spend a few weeks working with the Vietnamese during construction, and will train staff based there on pheasant care.
Paignton Zoo is working with the European Association and Aquaria as well as Viet Nature to reintroduce the species to the forests from which it has been eradicated.
Last year Jo flew to Vietnam to discuss the plans:
We’re a way off sending birds to Vietnam. Projects are slow to start while we make sure the birds have the very best chance of survival in the wild.
There are a few Edward’s pheasants in Hanoi Zoo and they will be the first birds to be moved to the new holding pens at Knoc Trong. We hope that our work will help build a sound understanding of pheasant care which will continue to develop over time.
Home to Nine
Paignton Zoo is home to nine Edward’s Pheasant adults comprising of four females and five males.
The zoo has also successfully bred the species.
Edward’s Pheasant or Lophura Edwardsi is listed as Critically Endangered and recorded as one of the world’s 100 most threatened species.
The species has not been seen in the wild since the year 2000.