We’ve all seen peacocks when we go to visit our favorite zoo, so surely they can’t be endangered. However, like many animals around the world, there are some species of peafowl that are at risk of extinction.
Are peacocks endangered: Unfortunately, more and more animals become endangered every year. There are three species of peafowl and they have different fates. Indian peafowl, the most common species, is a protected animal in India and thus their population is thriving. However, Green peafowl and Congo peafowl face a loss of habitat. As humans encroach on their space, they are left with more predators that are all fighting over space and food. Unfortunately, peacocks do not have a lot of defenses and in a battle, they do not often win. While there is more awareness of the plight of peafowl and there are captive breeding programs, more must be done if we want different types of peafowl to exist in the future.
Why are peacocks endangered?
Peacocks do not have a lot of natural defenses. They have sharp beaks and claws, but they will not win in a fight with a larger animal.
Furthermore, peacocks can’t fly very far or very fast, so they also aren’t good at escaping from predators.
As peacocks lose their natural habitat, they are in competition with many other animals both for space and for food. Unfortunately, they just aren’t equipped to survive in smaller areas.
What is a Conservation Status?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an international organization. It categorizes animals based on if they are an endangered species or not.
There are seven categories, ranging from Extinct to Least Concern. In the middle are categories that mean, while the animals are threatened, they are not endangered yet. Furthermore, if circumstances change, there is hope that these animals will be able to thrive again.
Peacocks Species that are Considered Endangered
More commonly known as Indian peafowl, this species of peafowl is what is most often seen in a zoo or animal sanctuary. The male peacocks have large tail feathers while the female peahens have shorter, brown tails.
The Indian peafowl is not endangered. In fact, they are categorized as Least Concern and are indeed thriving in the wild.
Their conservation status is mainly due to the Indian government. In 1963 India declared the Indian peafowl as its national bird.
As a result, it is illegal to hunt or eat Indian peafowl in India. So, even as India’s population continues to rise and impede on the natural territory of these birds, they have some measure of protection.
It is estimated that there is over 100,000 Indian peafowl around the world. There are even more Indian peafowl in zoos and animal sanctuaries.
Furthermore, even though the tropical climate of India and the surrounding countries is where these birds originate, you can actually find pocket populations of them in North America.
Also known as Green peafowl, these birds are similar in appearance to Indian peafowl. However, unlike the more subdued Indian peahens, both male and female Indian peafowl have bright blue and green plumage.
As for their conservation status, Green peafowl is marked as Endangered. They are at a real threat of extinction if nothing changes.
The biggest threat to Green peafowl is a loss of habitat. These birds prefer jungle environments. They need areas where they can hide from large predators and have trees to roost in.
As humans grow and spread out, they also cut down more and more forested areas. The result is competition from other animals for food and because peafowl does not have a lot of natural defenses, they do not often survive.
One sign of hope for Green peafowl is that there is now an active effort to protect them. There are protected areas in Thailand and Vietnam where it is illegal to hunt peafowl.
Overall, the estimated population of Green peafowl in the wild is about 10,000.
The third species of peafowl is also known as Congo peafowl. These birds live in Africa, around the Congo basin.
Similar to Green peafowl, Congo peafowl is not fairing very well in the wild. Their conservation status is a bit better, however, and is listed as Vulnerable.
Again, the loss of habitat is the greatest reason for their declining population. The Congo Basin is home to many people and humans look to spread out and make use of forests for timber. As a result, the habitat of Congo peafowl continues to shrink.
Currently, there are only about 5,000 to 9,000 Congo peafowl left. There is an awareness of their threat, so some work is being done to help the species.
For example, more zoos employ captive breeding programs and there is a push for a natural sanctuary where the birds live in the wild.
Is it legal to own a peacock?
It is legal to own a peacock in certain countries. For example, it is perfectly legal in Canada and the United States.
However, these peacocks need to be a part of the Indian peafowl species. You cannot own endangered species.
More and more hobby farmers own peacocks because of their unique beauty. It is now easier than ever to find a specialized breeder. There are even different-colored types of peacocks for true collectors.
While it is also legal to eat Indian peafowl, it is not at all legal to eat Green peafowl or Congo peafowl.
In India, where the Indian peafowl is the national bird, it is illegal to own, hunt, and eat peacocks.
If you are in a different country and are interested in owning a peacock, you will definitely want to check local laws. Even different parts of different countries can have their own regulations.
The Indian peafowl is a thriving species and can be found in their natural southeast Asia habitats, in pockets around North America, and in zoos. However, two other species, Congo peafowl, and Green peafowl are at a greater risk of extinction. While there are special breeding programs for them, their fate in the future is unknown.