Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

Celebrating Biodiversity: Year of the Rooster

by Olivier Langrand, CEPF Executive Director

Male (left) and female (right) red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus murghi) taken by field biologist Elena Kreuzberg in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. © Elena Kreuzberg

This is the first in our new, occasional blog series, "Celebrating Biodiversity," in which we highlight specific species, recognizing the incredible biodiversity the planet holds. 

Per the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Rooster began January 28, 2017, and will end February 15, 2018. As a French national, I felt that I had to write something about the rooster, which is the emblem of France. It is the result of the play on words of the Latin gallus, meaning rooster, but also Gaul, the inhabitant of Gallia, as Romans designated France at that time. In France, the rooster, was featured on coins and stamps during the 20th century, still appears on top of many church belfries and is the emblem of the national rugby team.

But where does the rooster comes from originally?
Four different species of jungle fowl (Gallus) exist and they are all found in Asia. The red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus) is the species that has been domesticated and spread throughout the world. It still exists in the wild in India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Bali) and in the Philippines and Sulawesi, where it has probably been introduced. Many parts of the world, including Micronesia, Polynesia, Melanesia in the Pacific Ocean, Réunion in the Indian Ocean and Grenadines in the Caribbean hold introduced populations of the red jungle fowl.

  A cultural representation of a rooster on the main gate of the Meiji Jingu in Tokyo, Japan. © O. Langrand

The red jungle fowl is a species listed as Least concern by the IUCN Red List. However, it is a species typical of several of the biodiversity hotspots where CEPF is working or has invested in the past, such as Indo-burma, Himalaya and Sundaland.

While I enjoyed celebrating the Year of the Monkey, as a French avid birdwatcher, the rooster has a special place in my heart.