Call census, habitat suitability modeling and local communities’ perceptions for the conservation of a globally threatened avian flagship species


  • Abid Ali Department of Biology, Government Degree College Akbarpura, Nowshera, 24100 Pakistan
  • Iftikhar Uz Zaman Peshawar Zoo, Wildlife Department KP, 25000 Pakistan
  • Abbas Khan Department of Statistic, University of Peshawar, 25000 Pakistan
  • Masoud Yousefi Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources University of Tehran, Karaj, 31587-77871 Iran
  • Zahid Ali Department, of Geography, Government Degree College Akbarpura, Nowshera, 24100 Pakistan
  • Muhammad Numan Khan Department of Zoology, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, 45320 Pakistan



The Western tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus) is recorded in the IUCN Red List of 2017 as a Vulnerable bird species in Pakistan.  This study was conducted to investigate and resolve the conservation challenges surrounding the species in two major habitat zones - Salkhala Game Reserve and Machiara National Park. The study was arranged in May-June 2020 for the call count census. Local residents’ perceptions and a habitat suitability map were developed for the species using MaxEnt model based on previously recorded occurrence points as well as recorded in the survey. A total of 26 western Tragopans were identified by call count during the sampling period. Results of modeling habitat suitability of the Western tragopan showed that the species suitable habitats are small and patchy in Pakistan. We found that the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) with 40.6 percent contribution was the most important variable in shaping the species distribution. Our model identified some new suitable patches which can be the target of future field monitoring for finding new populations of the species. This study provides valuable information for conservation of Western tragopan a globally threatened avian flagship species in Pakistan.


Western Tragopan; globally threaten; Habitat modeling; Himalayan Pakistan


[1] Ahmad, S.S., Abbasi, Q., Jabeen, R., Shah, M.T., 2012. Decline of conifer forest cover in Pakistan: a GIS approach. Pak J Bot 44, 511–514.

[2] Akhter, N., Akram, S., Hussain, S., 2009. The Impact of Forestry on The Economy of The State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

[3] Alexandrino, E.R., Buechley, E.R., Piratelli, A.J., de Barros, K.M.P.M., de Andrade Moral, R., Şekercioğlu, Ç.H., Silva, W.R., do Couto, H.T.Z., 2016. Bird sensitivity to disturbance as an indicator of forest patch conditions: An issue in environmental assessments. Ecol. Indic. 66, 369–381.

[4] Ali, A., Omer, T., Ullah, A., Haleem, A., Naseem, M., Ullah, M., Seemab, Shamim, F., Tehreem, A., Bilal, M., Khan, M.N., 2021. Epidemiological Survey of Toxoplasma gondii and Associated Risk Factors in Ruminant Species of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. J. Parasitol. Res. 2021, 6653239.

[5] Ashoori, A., Kafash, A., Varasteh Moradi, H., Yousefi, M., Kamyab, H., Behdarvand, N., Mohammadi, S., 2018. Habitat modeling of the common pheasant Phasianus colchicus (Galliformes: Phasianidae) in a highly modified landscape: application of species distribution models in the study of a poorly documented bird in Iran. Eur. Zool. J. 85, 372–380.

[6] Awan, M.N., 2009. Traditional trap used for capturing pheasants in Pakistan. G Llinformed 2, 40–41.

[7] Awan, M.N., Ali, H., Lee, D.C., 2012. An annotated checklist of birds and conservation issues in Salkhala Game Reserve, an isolated Important Bird Area in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. Forktail 28, 38–43.

[8] Awan, MUHAMMAD NAEEM, Buner, F., 2014. Conservation of the Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus around Salkhala Game Reserve, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. Bird. Asia 21, 107–111.

[9] Awan, M N, Buner, F., 2014. Conservation of the Western Tragopan _Tragopan melanocephalus_ around Salkhala Game Reserve, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. BirdingASIA 21, 107–111.

[10] Awan, M.N., Buner, F., Kingdon, N., 2016. A review of published and unpublished surveys of a red-listed’flagship species’, the Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. Bird Conserv. Int. 26, 380.

[11] Batool, K., Ashraf, N., Awan, M.N., 2018. Butterflies Community Assemblage and Distribution in Salkhala Game Reserve, Kashmir Himalaya, Pakistan: Conservation Implications.

[12] Brooks, T.M., Mittermeier, R.A., da Fonseca, G.A., Gerlach, J., Hoffmann, M., Lamoreux, J.F., Mittermeier, C.G., Pilgrim, J.D., Rodrigues, A.S., 2006. Global biodiversity conservation priorities. science 313, 58–61.

[13] Broxton, P.D., Zeng, X., Scheftic, W., Troch, P.A., 2014. A MODIS-based global 1-km maximum green vegetation fraction dataset. J. Appl. Meteorol. Climatol. 53, 1996–2004.

[14] Change, I.C., 2014. Mitigation of climate change. Contrib. Work. Group III Fifth Assess. Rep. Intergov. Panel Clim. Change 1454.

[15] Cochard, R., Dar, M., 2014. Mountain farmers׳ livelihoods and perceptions of forest resource degradation at Machiara National Park, Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Environ. Dev. 10, 84–103.

[16] Dar, N.I., Minhas, R.A., Zaman, Q., Linkie, M., 2009. Predicting the patterns, perceptions and causes of human–carnivore conflict in and around Machiara National Park, Pakistan. Biol. Conserv. 142, 2076–2082.

[17] Fick, S.E., Hijmans, R.J., 2017. WorldClim 2: new 1-km spatial resolution climate surfaces for global land areas. Int. J. Climatol. 37, 4302–4315.

[18] Fielding, A.H., Bell, J.F., 1997. A review of methods for the assessment of prediction errors in conservation presence/absence models. Environ. Conserv. 38–49.

[19] Frankham, R., 2010. Challenges and opportunities of genetic approaches to biological conservation. Biol. Conserv. 143, 1919–1927.

[20] Fuller, R.A., Garson, P.J., 2000. Pheasants: status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. IUCN.

[21] Gaston, A.J., 1980. Census techniques for Himalayan pheasants including notes on individual species. J. World Pheas. Assoc. 5, 40–53.

[22] Gaston, A.J., Garson, P.J., Hunter, M.L., 1981. Present distribution and status of pheasants in Himachal Pradesh, Western Himalayas. J. World Pheas. Assoc. 6, 10–30.

[23] Geist, H.J., Lambin, E.F., 2002. Proximate causes and underlying driving forces of tropical deforestation [recurso electrónico].

[24] Grimmett, R., Roberts, T.J., Inskipp, T., Byers, C., 2008. Birds of Pakistan. A&C Black.

[25] Guisan, A., Thuiller, W., Zimmermann, N.E., 2017. Habitat suitability and distribution models: with applications in R. Cambridge University Press.

[26] Hijmans, R.J., 2020. Geographic Data Analysis and Modeling [R package raster version 3.3-13].

[27] Hu, X.-G., Jin, Y., Wang, X.-R., Mao, J.-F., Li, Y., 2015. Predicting impacts of future climate change on the distribution of the widespread conifer Platycladus orientalis. PLoS One 10, e0132326.

[28] Ilanloo, S.S., Ebrahimi, E., Valizadegan, N., Ashrafi, S., Rezaei, H.R., Yousefi, M., 2020. Little owl (Athene noctua) around human settlements and agricultural lands: Conservation and management enlightenments. Acta Ecol. Sin. 40, 347–352.

[29] International, B., 2015. European red list of birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities Luxembourg.

[30] International, B., NatureServe, 2014. Bird species distribution maps of the world. Camb. UK BirdLife Int. Sch.

[31] Islam, K., Crawford, J.A., 1987. Habitat use by western tragopans Tragopan melanocephalus (Gray) in Northeastern Pakistan. Biol. Conserv. 40, 101–115.

[32] Jarvis, A., Reuter, H.I., Nelson, A., Guevara, E., 2008. Hole-filled SRTM for the globe Version 4. Available CGIAR-CSI SRTM 90m Database Httpsrtm Csi Cgiar Org 15, 25–54.

[33] Johnsgard, P.A., 1986. The pheasants of the world. Oxford University Press.

[34] Mastrangelo, M.E., Laterra, P., 2015. From biophysical to social-ecological trade-offs: integrating biodiversity conservation and agricultural production in the Argentine Dry Chaco. Ecol. Soc. 20.

[35] McGowan, P.J., Garson, P.J., 1995. Pheasants: status survey and conservation action plan 1995-1999. IUCN.

[36] Merow, C., Smith, M.J., Silander Jr, J.A., 2013. A practical guide to MaxEnt for modeling species’ distributions: what it does, and why inputs and settings matter. Ecography 36, 1058–1069.

[37] Miller, J.R., 2010. Survey of Western Tragopan, Koklass Pheasant, and Himalayan Monal populations in the Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh, India. Indian Birds 6, 60–65.

[38] Moradi, S., Ilanloo, S.S., Kafash, A., Yousefi, M., 2019. Identifying high-priority conservation areas for avian biodiversity using species distribution modeling. Ecol. Indic. 97, 159–164.

[39] Myers, N., Mittermeier, R.A., Mittermeier, C.G., Da Fonseca, G.A., Kent, J., 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403, 853–858.

[40] Naeem Awan, M., Ali, H., Charles Lee, D., 2014. Population survey and conservation assessment of the globally threatened cheer pheasant (Catreus wallichi) in Jhelum Valley, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. Dong Wu Xue Yan Jiu Zool. Res. Dong Wu Xue Yan Jiu Bian Ji Wei Yuan Hui Bian Ji 35, 338–345.

[41] Nawaz, R., Garson, P.J., Mali, M., 2001. A survey of pheasants in Pa istan: the Pa istan Galliformes Project. Final Rep. UNDP Glob. Environ. Facil. Grants Programme Islamabad.

[42] Phillips, S.J., Anderson, R.P., Schapire, R.E., 2006. Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions. Ecol. Model. 190, 231–259.

[43] Ramesh, K., Sathyakumar, S., Rawat, G.S., 1999. Ecology and conservation status of the pheasants of Great Himalayan National Park, Western Himalaya. Wildl. Inst. India Dehradun.

[44] Robinson, J.G., Bennett, E.L., 2004. Having your wildlife and eating it too: an analysis of hunting sustainability across tropical ecosystems. Anim. Conserv. 7, 397–408.

[45] Saqib, Z., Malik, R.N., Von Wehrden, H., 2013. Landcover dynamics in relation to Western Tragopan occurrences in Pakistan: A regional assessment. Pak J Bot 45, 551–559.



[48] Shaheen, H., Qureshi, R.A., Ullah, Z., Ahmad, T., 2011. Anthropogenic pressure on the western Himalayan moist temperate forests of Bagh, Azad Jammu & Kashmir. Pak J Bot 43, 695–703.

[49] Singh, H., Kumar, N., Kumar, M., Singh, R., 2020. Modelling habitat suitability of western tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus) a range-restricted vulnerable bird species of the Himalayan region, in response to climate change. Clim. Risk Manag. 29, 100241.

[50] Thomas, C.D., Anderson, B.J., Moilanen, A., Eigenbrod, F., Heinemeyer, A., Quaife, T., Roy, D.B., Gillings, S., Armsworth, P.R., Gaston, K.J., 2013. Reconciling biodiversity and carbon conservation. Ecol. Lett. 16, 39–47.

[51] Thomas, C.D., Williams, S.E., Cameron, A., Green, R.E., Bakkenes, M., Beaumont, L.J., Collingham, Y.C., Erasmus, B.F., De Siqueira, M.F., Grainger, A., 2004. Biodiversity conservation: Uncertainty in predictions of extinction risk/Effects of changes in climate and land use/Climate change and extinction risk (reply). Nature 430, 1–2.

[52] Tylianakis, J.M., Didham, R.K., Bascompte, J., Wardle, D.A., 2008. Global change and species interactions in terrestrial ecosystems. Ecol. Lett. 11, 1351–1363.

[53] uz Zaman, I., 2008. Conservation of pheasants in North West Frontier Province, Pakistan.

[54] Yousefi, M., Kafash, A., Valizadegan, N., Ilanloo, S.S., Rajabizadeh, M., Malekoutikhah, S., Yousefkhani, S.S.H., Ashrafi, S., 2019. Climate Change is a Major Problem for Biodiversity Conservation: A Systematic Review of Recent Studies in Iran. Contemp. Probl. Ecol. 12, 394–403.



Article Type