The Cheer pheasant may look rather dull, but what is lacks in colour it certainly makes up in noise when excited
The Cheer pheasant originates from the Himalaya region from western Pakistan to Nepal, but it is a vulnerable, threatened specie that has teetered on the brink of extinction.
For a more familiar pheasant to our shores, read Caucasian pheasant: the Old English Blackneck.
The Cheer pheasant is native to the Himalaya region from western Pakistan to Nepal, where it lives between 5,000 and 8,000ft on open, grassy slopes and light forest. It is one of the more drab-looking pheasants, with a predominantly mottled grey and golden brown plumage. When excited, however, it makes up in noise for any lack of colour.
The Cheer pheasant thrives near human habitation, on land grazed or cut for animal feed. Nevertheless it is threatened by habitat loss and, in some areas, hunting for the pot.
The WPA attempted to reintroduce the bird in the Margalla Hills in northern Pakistan, where it was thought to have become extinct in the Eighties. Breeders in the UK provided eggs from captive birds. These were flown to Pakistan where a good hatch rate was achieved. The chicks were raised and released, fitted with radio tags. They were doing well when the tags ceased to function two years later. Recent surveys have shown that the bird is now found in a number of places in Pakistan, although it’s impossible to be sure that this is the result of the reintroduction project.
It is still listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species but there has recently been more good news: the Indian government has declared a new bird reserve in the Nainital district, home of the Cheer pheasant as well as many other threatened birds and mammals. Perhaps more importantly, the government of the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh has begun a reintroduction programme, using unique hexagonal aviaries designed in conjunction with the WPA.