Pauxi unicornis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pauxi unicornis
Species Authority: Bond & Meyer de Schauensee, 1939
Common Name/s:
English Horned Curassow, Southern Helmeted Curassow
Crax unicornis unicornis Stotz et al. (1996)
Crax unicornis unicornis BirdLife International (2004)
Taxonomic Notes: The two disjunct populations currently treated as subspecies are virtually certain to represent two different species as they are separated by more than 1000 km, differ in morphology, song, time of singing, altitude at which found, and habitat that they occupy24

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2bcd+4bcd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor/s: BirdLife International
Reviewer/s: Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor/s: Fjeldså, J., Gastañaga, M., Hennessey, A., Lloyd, H., MacLeod, R. & Maccormack, A.
Facilitator/s: Benstead, P., Keane, A., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.
This species qualifies as Endangered because its population is now estimated to be declining very rapidly owing to hunting and habitat destruction. It also has a small range and is known from few locations in a narrow altitudinal band, which is subject to habitat loss.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Pauxi unicornis is known from two disjunct populations in central Bolivia and central Peru. The nominate subspecies is known from the adjacent Amboró and Carrasco National Parks (Cox et al. 1997, Herzog and Kessler 1998, Mee 1999, R. MacLeod in litt. 2000) and has recently been found in Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) and along the outer edge of the Cordillera Mosetenes, Cochabamba, Bolivia (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007). It was formerly found along the length of Carrasco's northern boundary (R. MacLeod in litt. 2000), but recent surveys found it in very few locations here (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007). Despite the apparently large gap in its range (B. Hennessey in litt. 1999), extensive searches over several years have failed to locate the species in Madidi National Park, La Paz, Bolivia (R. MacLeod in litt. 2003, Hennessey 2004a, A. Maccormack in litt. 2004), in the rio Tambopata area near the Peru/Bolivia border (R. MacLeod in litt. 2004, Gastañaga and Hennessey 2005) and in the Cordillera Cocapata and along the inner edge of Cordillera Mosetenes in Cochabamba (R. MacLeod in litt. 2003, R. MacLeod in litt. 2007). The subspecies koepckeae , known only from the Cerros del Sira in Huánuco, Peru, had gone unrecorded since its description in 1969 but its continued presence was established by local knowledge surveys in 2003 and observations in 2005 (Gastañaga 2006). Previous field surveys, including one in 2004, found no birds and local reports suggest that it is very rare here (Mee et al. 2002, A. Maccormack in litt. 2004, R. MacLeod in litt. 2004). The total population for the subspecies in Peru is estimated to be less than 400 individuals in Cerros del Sira (Gastañaga in litt. 2007),with evidence that its numbers are declining (Gastañaga and Hennessey 2005). The species occurs at densities of up to 20 individuals/km2, although this appears to be exceptional and at most sites only one or two individuals have been found (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007).

Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Peru
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is poorly known; the total population is estimated to number 1,000-4,999 mature individuals, roughly equivalent to 1,500-7,500 individuals in total.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The nominate taxon inhabits dense, humid, lower montane forest and adjacent lowland evergreen forest at 450-1,400 m (R. MacLeod in litt. 2000, Gastañaga 2006, Maillard 2006). For much of the year it stays above 550 m, but descends in the dry season (Renjifo and Renjifo 1997). At any one part of its range the species tends to be restricted to an altitudinal band of c.500 m but the upper and lower limits of this vary from location to location. The Peruvian taxon inhabits cloud forest which in Cerros del Sira is found at altitudes of around 1100-1450 m and above, although in the dry season individuals have also occasionally been found somewhat lower (down to 950 m) along the upper edge adjacent montane forest. Its diet consists of fruit, seeds, soft plants, larvae and insects. Display songs and pairing have been noted from August (R. MacLeod in litt. 2000), with a nest found during October (Cox et al. 1997). The clutch-size is probably two (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007), as in other Cracidae, although in the only nest over found there was only one egg) and consequently it has a low reproductive rate (Cox et al. 1997, Renjifo and Renjifo 1997, Banks 1998). In Peru the peak singing (and presumably breeding) period appears to be in February and March (R. MacLeod in litt. 2007).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In Bolivia, forests within its altitudinal range are being cleared for the cultivation of staple and export crops by recent colonists from the altiplano (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Fjeldså in litt. 1999, Maillard 2006). Road-building and associated rural development have a negative impact and inhibit dispersal (Herzog and Kessler 1998, Fjeldså in litt. 1999). Hunting for its meat seems to be the biggest threat in both Bolivia and Peru and is likely to be having a serious negative impact in all parts of its range (Gastañaga 2006). In Peru, subsistence agriculture threatens its habitat (R. MacLeod in litt. 2000), as does opening up the foothills to colonisation and hunting. Mining, oil exploration and illegal logging are potential future threats in El Sira as well as forest clearance by colonists.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Large parts of its range are theoretically protected by Amboró and Carrasco National Parks and TIPNIS (although these protected areas are seriously threatened and have suffered from recent invasions [MacLeod et al. 2006]), and it was recorded within the El Sira Communal Reserve although hunting still takes place here (Gastañaga and Hennessey 2005, Gastañaga in litt. 2007, Graham 2009). Extensive surveys have been conducted in recent years but have met with little success in locating the species in many areas (Mee et al. 2002, R. MacLeod in litt. 2003, Hennessey 2004a, A. Maccormack in litt. 2004, R. MacLeod in litt. 2004). An education project to combat hunting and raise awareness was carried out in the Sira mountains in 2005 (Gastañaga 2005).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Nominate unicornis (Bolivia): Conduct field studies to locate and estimate the size of the surviving population and to determine its conservation requirements and vulnerability to human encroachment. Work with the Carrasco and Amboro National Parks and local communities to develop and implement conservation management plans for the species and its habitat. Develop work with local educators and schools to inform local people about the conservation importance and uniqueness of the species and its habitat to their area. Work with local communities to promote a community based hunting ban for the species and to reduce human pressure on its habitat. Identify and implement measures that will measurably improve the livelihoods of the local communities in return for their assistance in conserving the species. Taxon koepckae (Peru): Continue working with communities around Cerros del Sira in conducting local knowledge surveys about the distribution of the species and in raising awareness of its unique status. Identify and implement measures that will measurably improve the livelihoods of the local indigenous communities in return for their essential assistance in conserving the species through a community enforced hunting ban. Obtain a series of sound recordings and behavioural observations to be used in combination with the known physical differences to determine if the Peruvian taxon is a unique species. Conduct field studies of the ecology of the Peruvian taxon in order to estimate the size of the surviving population, determine its conservation requirements and vulnerability to human encroachment. Work with INRENA (the protected areas authority) to develop and implement a conservation management plan for the species and its habitat (MacLeod et al. 2006).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Pauxi unicornis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 16 April 2014.
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