IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


3rd August, 2023 Environment

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Gradual increase in the population of a rare species Western Tragopan (State bird of Himachal Pradesh) at the Sarahan pheasantry, Himachal Pradesh, a conservation breeding centre, due to the efforts of state authorities, bringing a glimmer of hope for its survival and growth.



  • Medium-sized brightly plumed pheasant
  • Feeds on the ground, but is known to roost in trees. Their diet consists of a variety of vegetation, including leaves, shoots, berries, and seeds.
  • They are known for their shy and evasive nature and prefer to stay out of sight in the thick vegetation.

Habitat and Distribution

  • The western tragopan or western horned tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus) is found along the Himalayas from the north-eastern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northern Pakistan in the west to Uttarakhand within India to the east.
  • Their preferred habitat is the dense understorey of temperate, subalpine and broad-leaved forests.


  • The population of the western tragopan is threatened by several anthropogenic factors throughout its range
  • Human activities like urbanization, deforestation for agricultural activities and mining activities have led to the degradation and fragmentation of its natural habitats.
  • Other anthropogenic activities like hunting and poaching for its feathers have severely affected its population.
  • Their distribution is restricted to specific regions of Western Himalayas making them more vulnerable to extinction.

Conservation Status

  • The western tragopan is considered the rarest of all living pheasants. Its range is very restricted.
  • The world population is estimated at fewer than 5,000 individuals, including a captive breeding population in Himachal Pradesh which numbered fewer than ten pairs in 2012.
  • CITES has listed this species in Appendix I in order to discourage the selling of its feathers.
  • IUCN's red list of threatened species categorised Western Tragopan as ‘Vulnerable’.

Conservation Efforts

  • The Himachal Pradesh Forest Department, the Himachal Pradesh Zoo and Conservation Breeding Society, and the Sarahan wildlife division have been consistently working together to reintroduce, protect and increase the population to self-sustaining levels of this rare and endangered species in its natural habitat.


Western Tragopan is a vulnerable species facing habitat loss, illegal hunting, and climate change threats. Concerted efforts are required to ensure its survival. Achieving a sustainable population also requires the engagement of the local communities to secure a thriving future for this remarkable bird.


Q. Which of the following statements is true regarding the Western Tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus)?

1. The Western Tragopan is a species of beer found in the western Himalayas.

2. The Western Tragopan primarily feeds on small insects and rodents.

3. This species is native to the forests of Southeast Asia.

Select the correct option:

a) One of the statements is correct

b) Two of the statements are correct

c) All three statements are correct

d) None of the given statements is correct

Answer: (D)