The population of the Cheer Pheasant has been on the decline and much drastically so in recent years. Whereas Osmaston (1935) found the species fairly common on the grassy and rocky slopes beyond Chakrata, now Uttarakhand, apparently he was referring to the meadows of Chorani and Nagthath. No bird was sighted on recent visits. Trapping, hunting and habitat loss may be the reasons. In the Deoria Tal area of Okhimath, in the Kedarnath WLS, another known habitat, the grasslands were found to be burned down by villagers, on 10th Jan. 2013, for grazing cattle. The slopes, ahead of Vinayak in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, once boasted of a population of over twenty birds a few years back. Now only three remain with a lone male surviving. The grass on the slopes here, bar one patch was found burnt down by the forest department before the fire season when we visited on April 21st, 2013.
Another inherent behavioural attribute that may have aided in the decline, is the birds habit of freezing rather than fleeing when under threat. - GA
Taxonomic Notes :
Monotypic species endemic to the Indian Subcontinent (India & Nepal; formerly Pakistan).