Sumatran serows, Capricornis sumatraensis, are found on the Thai-Malay Peninsula and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. There are three specific areas of highlands on the island of Sumatra that have been identified as supporting populations of C. sumatraensis: the Barisan mountains in the south, Aceh in the north, and Kerinci in the central part of the island.
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )
East Asia, Sumatra
In body shape, Sumatran serows resemble goats or antelopes. They are generally dark grey or black in color with backward pointing horns that narrow at the tips. The horns usually have a slight curve. A skin of C. sumatraensis measured 60 inches (approximately 152.4 cm) from nose to tail.
There is no information regarding sexual dimorphism in this species and standard measurements are not available. However, in a close relative, Capricornis crispus, both males and females were reported to weigh between 30 and 45 kg, with horns that averaged 12 to 16 cm in length.
At approximately 30 kg, Capricornis swinhoei, a close relative native to Taiwan, is slightly smaller than C. sumatraensis.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; ornamentation
Capricornis sumatraensis is found in mountainous areas at altitudes of between 200 and 3,000 m. It resides mainly in forests and is frequently found near cliffs.
A close relative, Capricornis milneedwardsi, inhabits areas near the top of steep slopes with high densities of shrubs.
Range elevation: 200 to 3,000 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
Sumatran serows are forest browsers and appear to prefer nutrient-rich vegetation, though they eat nearly any type of vegetation if nothing else is available. Multiple individuals are occasionally found feeding together in areas high in resources. A close relative, Capricornis swinhoei, has been observed in captivity to feed primarily during the evening hours and at night. Another close relative, Capricornis milneedwardsi, eats primarily the leaves and twigs from deciduous broadleaved trees.
Plant Foods: leaves
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
Other ungulates such as wild pigs, rusa deer, and barking deer or muntjacs share the Sumatran serow's habitat. There may be some overlap in diet between Capricornis species and other ungulate genera.
In captivity, Capricornis sumatraensis has been observed to host external parasites, such as large fleas. Nematode larvae have also been found in feces of captive individuals.
- fleas (Siphonaptera)
- nematodes (Nematoda)
Sumatran serows typically select bedding sites that are protected from the wind, but not secluded enough to allow a predator to sneak up on the resting serow. There is nothing in the literature regarding which predators prey on C. sumatraensis, however Lovari and Locati (1994) mention that serows sometimes occupy the same habitat as big cats such as leopards and tigers, which likely prey on them.
Predation does not appear to have a major impact on population density of the closely related Japanese serow, Capricornis crispus.
- leopards (Panthera pardus)
- tigers (Panthera tigris)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
Life History and Behavior
Observations of C. crispus indicate that kids recognize their mother by sound.
Capricornis sumatraensis has preorbital and interdigital scent glands. These glands are used to mark boundaries of territories. Capricornis swinhoei, a close relative that exhibits behavior very similar to that of C. sumatraensis, produces a high-pitched alarm call.
Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
The maximum lifespan observed in a close relative, Capricornis crispus, is 20 to 21 years for males and 21 to 22 years for females. At birth, females have shorter life expectancies, 4.8 to 5.1 years, compared to males, with life expectancies of 5.3 to 5.5 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
The mating system of C. sumatraensis has not been described, but a close relative, Capricornis crispus, commonly forms monogamous pairs. A single pair will often stay together for multiple years, each sex maintaining a territory that overlaps with the territory of its mate. Occasionally, polygynous groups form, but since females maintain their own individual territories, it is difficult for the male to guard multiple females. A typical pair bond lasts approximately 4.6 years.
The breeding season of C. sumatraensis occurs between the months of October and November. Gestation lasts approximately 7 months and, in one recorded instance of a captive Sumatran serow, birth occurred in early June. Usually the mother gives birth to 1 offspring.
Little is known about growth and development of young Sumatran serows, but in Capricornis crispus, a close relative with a similar gestation period, young stop being dependent on their mother at about 1 year of age, but stay in their mother's territory for 2 to 4 years. Capricornis crispus females reach sexual maturity at about three years of age.
Breeding interval: Sumatran serow breeds yearly.
Breeding season: Breeding occurs in October and November.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average gestation period: 7 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Parental care in Capricornis sumatraensis has not been described. However, in a close relative, Capricornis crispus, the mother is the sole care provider for her young. Shortly after birth, the serow kid is able to travel with its mother as she forages for food. In C. crispus, a mother and kid will often stay close to the area where the kid was born for the first few days after birth. Capricornis crispus mothers are occasionally observed between the months of May and July without their kid, which suggests that kids sometimes hide for short periods of time.
Parental Investment: precocial ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Capricornis sumatraensis
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Capricornis sumatraensis
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
In 2008, C. sumatraensis was listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Redlist. It is estimated that there are between 500 and 750 individuals in Malaysia, but there are no data on population size in Indonesia. The main threat for Sumatran serows is loss of habitat. Capricornis sumatraensis requires thick forest, and forests in its range are being cut due to agriculture and the demand for timber. Many Sumatran serows are also injured or killed by poachers when they are caught in traps meant for other animals. Capricornis sumatraensis is protected by law in Indonesia and Malaysia, as are certain parts of the animal’s habitat. Both Indonesia and Malaysia have conservation plans that aim to educate people living near serows, reduce habitat loss, and protect remaining habitat, to prevent the serow population from declining further.
US Federal List: endangered
CITES: appendix i
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Endangered(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Endangered(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Endangered(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Endangered(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
Date Listed: 06/14/1976
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: Entire
Population location: Entire
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Naemorhedus sumatraensis, see its USFWS Species Profile
In Malaysia, Mustafa et al. (1990) conducted a reconnaissance survey in the Pelangai Forest Reserve, Negeri Sembilan (3,107 ha), in an effort to determine the number of serow present before a capture operation started. Thirteen animals were recorded in this area, giving a density of 0.4 serow/km². The total number of serow estimated for Peninsular Malaysia is between 500 and 750 animals, scattered through many, very small, isolated populations, though the basis for these numbers is very unclear. It is said not to be common in the Malay peninsula (Kwai HinHan pers. comm.).
Threats in Malaysia come mainly from disturbance and from habitat destruction caused by mining activities in the limestone and quartz ridge quarries within their habitat, and by deforestation of the hill dipterocarp forests for logging and agriculture. Serows also suffer from substantial poaching for its meat and body parts that are used for medicinal purposes. In Malaysia, a number of small populations exist, but are threatened by illegal hunting, with this species sometimes being a target, not just an opportunistic kill. In Malaysia, this species does appear to be tolerant of some human disturbance, and in some areas, occurs very near human habitation. Over the past two years, enforcement authorities have taken action against individuals involved in illegal hunting of this species, and as a result, trade in this species is not carried out openly, as it is in other Southeast Asian range States. Very little information on current populations of this species exists. However, local people living near serow habitat state that populations may be declining, due to hunting and due to quarrying of limestone and quartz areas. Some wildlife restaurants in Malaysia offer the meat of this species.
In Indonesia (Sumatra), has been protected by law since 1932. A total of 3,083,308 ha of serow habitat are under some form of protection in a system of protected areas that includes three national parks, three game reserves, three nature reserves and two protected forests. However, many of these areas await gazetting and staffing, and in the absence of these actions they are little more than “paper” parks. Conservation measures proposed for Indonesia: 1) Conduct surveys along the Barisan mountain chain to determine current status, and to identify if there are any other viable populations of serow outside the currently known, main concentrations areas. 2) Maintain natural forest cover along the volcanic spine of Sumatra, free from roads, agriculture, timber extraction and other human encroachment. This offers the best hope for the serow’s long-term survival in Indonesia (Santiapillai and Widodo 1989). 3) maintain the strict protection of reserves where viable serow populations still exist; this must remain the prime concern. Protected areas where serow now occur must be properly zoned and managed. 4) Strictly protect the core areas which incorporate the feeding and breeding areas, to avoid interactions with humans. 5) Design land-use activities in the vicinity of serow reserves so that they are compatible with serow conservation. 6) Adopt measures to improve the living conditions of people existing along the periphery of serow reserves. 7) Publicize the plight of the serow to the people through sensible conservation education programs.
The Sumatran serow is totally protected under the Wildlife Act (76/72) of Peninsular Malaysia. Enforcement is carried out by the Department of Wildlife and National Park’s Enforcement Division. Serow occur in seven protected areas, but unfortunately these neither represent typical serow habitat, nor are they adequate to ensure its survival. Serow is also found in six proposed protected areas. Small captive breeding groups of serow are held at Zoo Negara (Vellayan, 1989) and Zoo Melaka. Conservation measures proposed for Malaysia: Implement the serow conservation strategy developed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Peninsular Malaysia. This strategy includes: 1) Develop management plans and the application of appropriate wildlife management techniques to conserve and enhance serow populations. The management goals are to: 2) establish and conserve genetically viable populations in protected wildlife reserves, national parks, permanent forest reserves, and other forested areas and limestone hills; 3) protect areas which contain serow and manage them for an optimum sustainable population; and 4) establish a captive breeding population for future re-introduction of serow into protected areas. Specific management objectives and recommendations identified to meet these goals include: 5) co-ordinate actions of conservation agencies with those of agencies involved in quarrying and logging operations, to promote wildlife conservation; 6) develop a public education program; 7) increase effectiveness of law enforcement; 8) train personnel; 9) improve habitat management and conservation by increasing thenumber of protected areas; and 10) carry out ecological and biological research.
The taxonomic validity of this species, and its relationship to other species in the genus Capricornis needs to be assessed.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
A close relative, Capricornis crispus, occasionally eats crops.
Throughout Asia, multiple species of serow are hunted for medicinal purposes and for their meat. The meat of the Formosan serow, Capricornis swinhoei, is highly valued in Taiwan. Some local people hunt C. sumatraensis for its meat, despite it being protected, because the locals believe that serow meat is better than meat that is more readily available, such as meat from goats. However, this hunting poses a threat to populations.
Positive Impacts: food
The Sumatran serow (Capricornis sumatraensis), also known as the southern serow, is a species of goat-antelope native to mountain forests in the Thai-Malay Peninsula and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The former name of this species is "mainland serow", as all the mainland species of serow (Chinese, red and Himalayan) used to be considered subspecies of this species. The Sumatran serow is threatened due to habitat loss and hunting, leading to it being evaluated as vulnerable by the IUCN.
- Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Duckworth, J.W., Steinmetz, R. & MacKinnon, J. (2008). "Capricornis sumatraensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!