In early 2017, under the organization and coordination of the Sichuan Forestry and Grassland Administration (former Sichuan Forestry Department), a joint laboratory set up by the Sichuan Fengtongzhai National Nature Reserve, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the Institute of Ecology at China West Normal University started the rescuing conservation work of “Chinese Monals”, China’s unique rare pheasants in alpine regions. In 2019, the conservation work achieved a breakthrough. After nearly two years of conservation research, a total of 12 Chinese Monals were bred, realizing the goal of doubling the captive population.
The Chinese Monals are China’s unique rare pheasants in alpine regions, only distributed in the southwest mountains of China. With the increasing intensity of human activities, the wild habitat environment of the Chinese Monal has been gradually shrinking and fragmenting, and its wild population quantity has remained at a low level. After the 1950s, nearly 100 Chinese Monals were introduced and protected by domestic and foreign institutions, but none of them achieved ideal results. By the end of 2017, only 11 individuals survived in the Sichuan Fengtongzhai National Nature Reserve among the captive populations worldwide. As a result, the Chinese Monal is listed as the first-class protected wild animal in China, in Appendix I of the CITES.
In order to protect the rare and endangered species, under the organization and guidance of provincial and municipal leaders, the Sichuan Fengtongzhai National Nature Reserve has used its rich wildlife rescue experience, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has extended the experience and concept of protecting giant pandas to the rescue work of Chinese Monals, the Institute of Ecology at China West Normal University has made use of its field ecological research results over the years, and experts from the European Pheasant Association and the Smithsonian Biological Conservation Agency have been invited to provide guidance, so as to conduct a joint conservation research on the Chinese Monal.
Since the beginning of the conservation work, through the cooperation of various parties, a total of 12 Chinese Monals were bred and survived. Especially in 2019, a total of 7 individuals were bred and survived. The number of hatching individuals and hatching rate in 2019 increased by 40% and 15% respectively compared with last year, and the hatching technology is more stable and mature, laying a solid foundation for the stable growth of the population. In the future, the population will face many problems, such as genetic diversity conservation, scientific breeding and incubation, disease control and prevention, etc. Around these problems, researchers will work toward the goal of establishing a self-sustaining population of Chinese Monals.