The Edwards’s pheasant, a blue-black strain of pheasant found in central Vietnam, has been reclassified as being critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (ICUN) Red List.

There have been no sightings of the Edward’s pheasant since 2000, and an extensive search by conservationists in 2011 found none. Concern for the species is such that the World Pheasant Association (WPA) and BirdLife International-Vietnam Programme are now working to organise immediate action. Leading scientists, conservationists and aviculturalists from Europe and south east Asia met in Germany last week to discuss a rescue plan.

The WPA says there is a pressing need for intensive surveys into the habitat of the Edward’s pheasant in order to locate any remaining populations. Edward’s pheasants already in captivity could also play an important role, being introduced (subject to agreement) if threats to those in the wild (including hunting and habitat loss) are reduced. The EAZA Galliformes Taxon Advisory Group and the European Conservation Breeding Group of WPA are to identify a pure group of unrelated birds from which to breed.

Should the Edward’s pheasant become extinct, it would be the first pheasant species to be lost since records began 400 years ago.

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