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The Dragon Birds' Plight

They slip away from the world, like a pencil mark being erased off of a piece of paper. There are many well known endangered animals, like the tiger, that are being conserved in the wild and in captivity,  but there is one endangered species that is getting less recognition and less protection, yet it is far more alluring. The green peafowl (Pavo muticus) is a large bird found in South-east Asia. Green peafowl are a relative of the India blue peafowl which is more commonly known as peacock, which is actually the term for the male bird. The female bird is called a peahen and the baby is called a peachick, but as a whole they are called peafowl. This magnificent bird needs more protection to help save the wild birds and their native habitat, which are being threatened constantly. Also, there should be more captive breeding stocks of pure green peafowl to help insure that we will still have green peafowl even if they become extinct in the wild. Finally, there needs to be a simple, creditable, easily accessible guide for identifying green peafowl so that aviculturists, or bird hobbyists, can correctly identify the various subspecies to help prevent the mixing of the different subspecies or forming hybrids between the India blue and green peafowl, a practice that is becoming rampant. It is important to help save the green peafowl because this bird is so uniquely beautiful in many ways from its vivid colors to its array of vocalizations that it would be a big tragedy to lose forever.

The India blue peacock has a blue neck consisting of feathers with thin hair like ends, black and white striped wings, and a green tail called a train with lots of eye feathers. The India blue peahen is less colorful having an all brown body, no long train, and an emerald green neck consisting of feathers with rounded ends. In comparison, the green peacock and peahen are both very colorful and can be almost indistinguishable except for the peacocks train. The neck of a green peafowl is green with a golden shine. Green peahens will have a slight brown cast so that they can blend in with their environment when they are nesting on the ground (Bauer). Green peafowl are also larger than India blue peafowl, and they are “one of the largest birds in the order of Galliformes” (Arkive). The green peafowl consists of three subspecies which are “(P. m. muticus) native to Malaysia and Java, (P. m. spicifer) from northeastern India & northwestern Myanmar (now believed to be extinct) and (P. m. imperator) found in Indo-China” (Cowell). The English version of the subspecies names are Javanese green peafowl, Burmese green peafowl, and Indo-Chinese green peafowl. All subspecies are considered to be endangered.

There needs to be more effort to conserve the wild green peafowl. It is good to have concern for the captive populations of green peafowl, but it is even better to help them thrive in the wild, where they will truly have the best life if they can be kept safe because Green peafowl are “hunted for its extravagant train feathers, but also for meat. Chicks and eggs are collected for the pet trade and farmers poison adults as they are thought of as a crop-pest, particularly in China. Habitat change and disturbance are also threats, reducing breeding success” (Arkive). Green peacocks shed their train feathers after every breeding season, so there is no need to kill them for their feathers. There are a lot of other animals that people could hunt for meat that live in the same area as green peafowl such as the Sambar Deer (Arkive). A big problem is the capturing of green peafowl to use as pets because many people want to get their hands on pure green peafowl, and sometimes they may not care where exactly they come from as long as the birds are pure. Pure green peafowl can be very expensive, and some people may only see taking chicks and eggs as a way of making a profit and not care about the long term effects. Perhaps if local people could be paid to observe and document green peafowl it would lessen the negative impact people have on the wild green peafowl. The farmers poison green peafowl that eat their crops because the farmers complained to wildlife officials that the green peafowl were consuming some of their crops, yet the officials said that there was not much that could be done since green peafowl are endangered. Thus, the farmers decided to take the matter into their own hands and started poisoning the green peafowl. Wildlife officials should come up with an alternative plan where they give farmers a dog that will chase away the peafowl and hopefully scare them so much they will not come back to the farm. As for habitat issues, the encroachment of people into green peafowl territory is probably not going to stop, yet maintaining and adding on to existing wildlife parks and sanctuaries will help insure that green peafowl will always have a place to live without the fear of people moving to their area.

If the wild populations of green peafowl continue to suffer from numerous factors, there will be a heavy dependency on the captive green peafowl at zoos, bird breeding facilities, and personal backyard aviaries. That is why there needs to be lots of captive breeding stocks of pure green peafowl. Many people would rather have the India blue peafowl than the green peafowl. This is because it can be more difficult to care for green peafowl due to their low tolerance of withstanding cold temperatures due to them being more of a tropical bird. This means that in areas where winters can be cold or that receive snow, green peafowl owners must have an indoor building that is well insulated for the birds to stay in for the winter, or if it is a very cold region the birds must have a heated building to stay in. A nice heated building can be costly. Also it is said that green peafowl are more wild acting birds than India blues. Some green peafowl owners say that in the breeding season their green peacocks attack them when they enter the pen while others say that they cannot get anywhere near their green peafowl without the birds getting scared and flying into the fence. It is true that some green peafowl act wild, but not all of them are so spooky. Many can be just as tame as India blue peafowl. Perhaps one of the largest problems though, is pure green peafowl are very expensive and cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The high prices are due to the lack of pure green peafowl. Not many peafowl breeders have pure green peafowl so pure ones are a rare find and very sought after. If more people were able to get pure green peafowl the prices would probably go down, which would mean even more people would be able to get pure green peafowl, and in turn there would be more people conserving green peafowl using the money they did not have to use to buy the birds on the facilities for the birds and their food.

In order to have more bird enthusiasts conserving pure green peafowl, there needs to be a simple, creditable, easily accessible guide for identifying green peafowl. Unfortunately this is not a perfect world, and there are scam artists out there even in the bird business. Most people looking for green peafowl end up getting scammed because someone sells them ‘green peafowl’ when it is actually high percentage spalding birds, which means the birds look very similar to green peafowl, but are in fact not pure green peafowl. From there the person who was scammed will ether find out that their birds are not pure green peafowl, or the less fortunate result which would be they proceed to breed the birds and sell the chicks as pure green peafowl, because they believe the seller and do not know exactly what a pure green peafowl even looks like. That is why people need a simple guide to use for identifying pure green peafowl but also, people need to be more cautious about who they buy birds from. Generally, if someone is well known for their pure green peafowl and other people use their name a lot saying things like, “I got my green peafowl from John Doe so you know they are pure!” then they should be a trusted person to buy from. On the other hand, if people are constantly arguing with them that they do not think their green peafowl are pure, you might want to look for green peafowl elsewhere. Once bird owners have green peafowl, they also need to learn that they cannot just breed all subspecies together. The green subspecies are different mainly in coloration. Mixing subspecies can cause the offspring to be shorter and sometimes they will be less colorful. For quality green peafowl that will go for more money, breeders will have to pair the same subspecies together. This will ensure that not only green peafowl are conserved properly, but that their subspecies will be correctly conserved also.

Protecting wild green peafowl and the wild places they live in, having solid breeding programs, and accurately educating the public on green peafowl will help improve the status of green peafowl and help bring them out of endangerment. With the right efforts, green peafowl could make a comeback, just like how albatrosses have made a comeback as a result of people taking a stand. If the green peafowl can continue to survive and grow in numbers, there could be hope for other endangered species too or even hope for animals that are threatened of being endangered. With correct regulation on hunting and proper breeding programs with accurate documentation, green peafowl can live on and inspire others to help conserve endangered species so that years from now children will be able to enjoy these beautiful creatures, just as people have for years in the past.


Works Cited

Arkive. “Threats” Green peafowl (Pavo muticus). Arkive. 2013. Web. 25 February 2013

Bauer, Reinhold. “Description of this Species:” Pavo Muticus Imperator, Habitat North Thailand. Peafowl-Farm.19 December 2012. Web. 25 February 2013.

Cowell, Dan. “Subspecies” Green peafowl (Pavo muticus). gdwf. 2012. Web. 25 February 2013