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Afropavo congensis

Afropavo congensis, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Pangalloanserae
Cladus: Galloanseres
Ordo: Galliformes

Familia: Phasianidae
Subfamilia: Phasianinae
Genus: Afropavo
Species: Afropavo congensis

Afropavo congensis Chapin, 1936

Chapin, J. P., 1936. A new peacock-like bird from the Belgian Congo. Rev. Zool. Bot. Afr. 29, 1-6.
IUCN: Afropavo congensis (Vulnerable)

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Kongopfau
English: Congo Peafowl
suomi: Kongonriikinkukko
français: Paon du Congo
Nederlands: Congopauw
svenska: Kongopåfågel
ไทย: นกยูงคองโก

The Congo peafowl (Afropavo congensis), also known as the African peafowl or mbulu by the Bakôngo, is a species of peafowl native to the Congo Basin.[2] It is one of three peafowl species and the only member of the subfamily Pavoninae native to Africa.[3] It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.[1]


Dr. Chapin noticed that the native Congolese headdresses contained long reddish-brown feathers that he could not identify with any previously known species of bird. Later, Chapin visited the Royal Museum of Central Africa and saw two stuffed specimens with similar feathers labeled as the 'Indian peacock' which he later discovered to be the Congo peafowl, a completely different species. In 1955 Chapin managed to find seven specimens of the species. The Congo peafowl has physical characteristics of both the peafowl and the guineafowl, which may indicate that the species is a link between the two families.[4]
Female head
Male head

The male (peacock) of this species is a large bird of up to 64–70 cm (25–28 in) in length. Though much less impressive than its Asiatic cousins, the male's feathers are nevertheless deep blue with a metallic green and violet tinge. It has bare red neck skin, grey feet, and a black tail with fourteen tail feathers. Its crown is adorned with vertical white elongated hair-like feathers. The female (peahen) measures up to 60–63 centimetres (24–25 in) in length and is generally a chestnut brown bird with a black abdomen, metallic green back, and a short chestnut brown crest. Both sexes resemble immature Asian peafowl, with early stuffed birds being erroneously classified as such before they were officially designated as members of a unique species.[5]
Distribution and habitat

The Congo peafowl inhabits and is endemic to the Central Congolian lowland forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where it has also been designated the national bird. It occurs in both primary and secondary forest in Salonga National Park. Secondary signs of its presence like droppings and feathers were more frequently encountered in regenerating secondary forest than in primary forest. In secondary forest, its droppings were found close to watercourses, where trees were smaller and plant diversity lower than in primary forest.[3]

In the 1990s, it was recorded in Maiko National Park, foremost in low hills and ridges between watersheds.[6]
Behaviour and ecology

The Congo peafowl is an omnivore with a diet consisting mainly of fruits and insects. In Salonga National Park, its diet includes fruits from Allanblackia floribunda, junglesop, Canarium schweinfurthii, oil palm, Klainedoxa gabonensis, African breadfruit, and Xylopia aethiopica and a multitude of insects, spiders, mollusks and worms.[7]

In Salonga National Park, its diet is taxonomically narrower in secondary forest than in primary forest. The male has a similar display to that of other species of peafowl, though the Congo peacock actually fans its tail feathers while other peacocks fan their upper tail covert feathers. The Congo peafowl is monogamous, though detailed mating information from the wild is still needed. The peacock of the species has a high-pitched "gowe" calling noise while the peahen emits a low "gowah". They have loud duets consisting of "rro-ho-ho-o-a" from both sexes.

The Congo peafowl is threatened by habitat loss caused by mining, shifting cultivation and logging.[6]
Female at the Milwaukee County Zoological Gardens
Male at the Oklahoma City Zoo

The Congo peafowl is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. As of 2013, the wild population was estimated at between 2,500 and 9,000 adult individuals.[1] Given its use of regenerating forest in Salonga National Park, secondary forests might be an important habitat to include in a conservation strategy.[3]

Captive breeding programs were initiated in the Belgian Antwerp Zoo and at Salonga National Park.[8]

BirdLife International (2016). "Afropavo congensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22679430A92814166. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22679430A92814166.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Mulotwa, M.; Louette, M.; Dudu, A.; Upoki, A.; Fuller, R. A. (2010). "Congo Peafowl use both primary and old regenerating forest in Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of The Congo". Ostrich. 81: 1–6. doi:10.2989/00306525.2010.455811.
"Congo Peafowl". World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Afropavo congensis. Downloaded from "BirdLife | Partnership for nature and people". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
Hart, J. A. and Upoki, A. (1997). "Distribution and conservation status of Congo peafowl Afropavo congensis in eastern Zaire". Bird Conservation International. 7 (4): 295–316. doi:10.1017/s0959270900001647.
Mulotwa, M.; Louette, M.; Dudu, A. & Upoki, A. (2006). "The Congo Peafowl Afropavo congensis in Salonga National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo)". Malimbus (28): 52–53.
Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. (2013). "Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges". International Zoo Yearbook. 8 (1): 7–28.

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