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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wildlife (Series) Himalyan Or Monal Pheasant - (Lophophorus Impejanus) (1997-12)

The monals occupy an isolated position among the pheasants. Himalayan pheasant usually lives at an altitude of above 6,000 feet and up to the limits of 13,000-45,000 feet high on trees in open coniferous forests of Himalayas occurring in Chitral, Dir, Swat, Indus Kohistan, Hazara district, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit.
In all these regions it is thinly distributed due to constant persecution by local hunters. The gorgeous male is highly prized for its plumage and the crest is used as a cap badge in the northern regions giving the wearer some social status.
The male has a tuft of long racket shaped feathers on the middle of the crown, brilliant metallic green, chin and throat black, sometimes glossed with green, underparts are velvety black. From lower side of neck a line of shining metallic green extending backward to the mantle and breast. Tail feathers are uniformly rufous and darker towards tips. The bill is strongly down curved and powerful.
The female is slightly smaller and totally different in colouration. She has a short bushy crest on the nape and an area of bright blue naked skin around the eyes. Her chestnut tail is tipped white with darker brown cross bars and the whole of the rest of the body is rufous brown, finely barred with darker brown except for a white throat area. In both sexes the iris is brown and the legs are olive brown with a blunt spur on the tarsus in males.
They are gregarious keep singly or in parties of 3 or 4. They usually spend a lot of their time in digging the ground with their powerful bill. They are able to dig in quite deep snow and do not descend in winter below the snow line, being very hardy birds. They are always alert and cautious, running swiftly over the precipitous if they sense danger.
They feed on grass, flowers, seeds, roots, tubers, shoots, berries, insects and their larvae, dug up often from under deep snow. They make nests in April to June as a scrape in the ground under shelter of rock, lay 4-6 pale yellowish or reddish eggs. Incubation period is about 28 days chicks remain hiding while the hen keeps up loud whistling alarm calls for a period of 4 or 5 minutes. The Jungle crow is a serious predator of eggs.
(Contributed by: Conservator of Wildlife Karachi)
To focus world attention on the need to protect and preserve this vulnerable wildlife species, Pakistan Post Office, is issuing a special postage stamp of Rs. 2/- denomination depicting photo of Monal Pheasant on October 29, 1997. It is part of the series on wildlife stamps being issued by Pakistan Post Office since 1975.