Moschus chrysogaster lives along the Himalayas in Nepal, northern India, southern China, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Pakistan (CITES,2001; Shrestha,1989; Sathyakumar,1993; Kattel,1991).
Within China, which comprises the bulk of its range, it is found in southern Gansu, southern Ningxia, Qinghai, western Sichuan, southern Tibet, and northern Yunnan.
M. chrysogaster looks like a small deer with long upper canines that are visible even when the mouth is closed. It's tail is hairless except for a small tuff at the end (Shrestha, 1989), and it has long "hare-like" ears (Sathyakumar,1993). It has an externally visible musk sac that lies between its reproductive organs and umbilicus (Shrestha, 1989). The opening to the sac lies anterior to the urethra (Shrestha, 1989). A musk deer is about 60cm tall and has a shoulder height of about 20cm (Shrestha, 1989).
Musk deer have a caudal gland at the base of their tails (Green,1985-1987).
Range mass: 10 to 15 kg.
Average length: 100 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
M. chrysogaster usually lives in forests with moderate to steep slopes (Kattel,1991). M. chrysogaster is found in oak or fir forests (Kattel,1991) and can be found up to the tree line (usually about 4500 m) in mountains. Plants that may be found in its habitat include birch, rhododendron, blue pine, fir, oak, juniper, grass, lichens and shrubs (Kattel,1991; Green,1987).
Range elevation: 2400 to 4500 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; scrub forest ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
Breeding occurs primarily in November-December, with the resulting offspring being born from May to June. After birth, young deer lie hidden in secluded areas, essentially independent of their mothers except at feeding times. This hiding period may last up to 2 months. Gestation is variously reported at from 150-195 days (Hayssen et al. 1993) and give birth to one offspring (twins are sometimes reported by documentation is lacking). Fawns wean at 3-4 months, are sexually mature at 16-24 months.
Alpine musk deer are sedentary, tending to remain within defined home ranges. In females these are about 125 acres in size, while male musk deer will control a territory which encompasses the ranges of several females, possibly defending it against other males. The species is not known to migrate. Communication between individuals is thought to be based primarily on their sense of smell, due to the high development of the glands of musk deer. It is primarily silent, musk deer will emit a loud double hiss if alarmed. Population densities can reach 3-4 animals per square kilometer (Smith and Xie 2008), but are not always this high.
M. chrysogaster is a ruminant (Sathyakumar,1993). It can live on poor quality food. In autumn and winter, it mostly eats forbs and the woody plant leaves of trees and shrubs such as oak and gaultheria. In spring and summer, its diet consists mainly of forbs and lichens (Green,1987).
Plant Foods: leaves; lichens
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
M. chrysogaster has a shy nature (Sathyakumar,1993), and is easily alarmed (Kattel,1991). It is a solitary animal (Sathyakumar,1993) that is wary of humans.
- humans (Homo sapiens)
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
The average lifespan of captive bred M. chrysogaster is 2.4 years. The average lifespan of wild caught captive M. chrysogaster is about 7 years. The oldest captive Dwarf musk deer (M. berezovskii) from China had a lifespan of 20 years (Sathyakumar,1993).
Status: captivity: 17 (high) years.
Status: wild: 3.1 years.
Status: captivity: 2.4 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
The mating season is December to January (Shrestha,1989).
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average birth mass: 800 g.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 639 days.
CITES Appendix I Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Pakistan
Appendix II Bhutan, China
The M. chrysogaster population around the Himalayan area has decreased greatly because of poaching animals for their musk and the destruction of natural habitats both by livestock and by local people who collect bamboo for domestic use (Sathyakumar,1993).
One method of conserving M. chrysogaster is by extracting the musk without killing the musk deer. However, this method takes more time, and is more traumatizing for the musk deer (Shrestha,1989). Musk deer farms are used for this purpose, but these farms have high mortality rates. The main causes of deaths in these farms are trauma, pneumonia and diarrhea (Sathyakumar,1993).
Some problems that may contribute to the high mortality rate are low quality buildings, poor equipment, lack of adequate money, lack of skilled workers, and the remoteness and cold climate of the farm location (Sathyakumar,1993).
In China, there has been reports of success in cutting down mortality rate in Dwarf musk deer farms. In Fozling Farm, Anhui, the survival of young increased from 50% to >90%. In Ma Er Kang Farm, Sichuan, the young survival rate was 74% from 1959 to 1973 for three hundred and thirty-six Dwarf musk deer (Sathyakumar, 1993).
The reasons for keeping musk deer farms are for musk production, research, reintroduction into wild, and reintroduction to existing wild populations (Sathyakumar,1993).
US Federal List: endangered
CITES: appendix i
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1988Vulnerable(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Endangered(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
Liu and Sheng (2002) estimated population sizes in three Chinese nature reserves in the mid 1990s using extrapolations from counts of pellet groups, but provided few details. They estimated 183-227 in the Helan Mountain Nature Reserve in Ningxia, 131-160 in the Shoulu Mountain Nature Reserve in Gansu, and 4,717-5,798 in the Xinglong Mountain Nature Reserve in Gansu. More recent reports suggest that musk deer have become very rare in the Helan Mountains (Liu, Z.S., East China Normal University pers. comm., 2006).
Anecdotal evidence points to a continued decline in abundance within China. Although population estimates contained in Yang et al. (2003) are unreliable, data on musk purchased by local Traditional Chinese Medicine companies probably reflect real trends, and these suggested dramatic declines in musk deer populations during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, Tibet, and Shaanxi.
Musk deer also appear to require dense vegetation, either in the form of intact forests or shrublands; thus excessive forest clearing or grazing can preclude musk deer from using such lands (Yang et al. 2003).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The musk is used by humans to make soap, perfume (Myers,1999) and indigenous medicine (Sathyakumar,1993).
Positive Impacts: source of medicine or drug
Alpine musk deer
- M. c. chrysogaster, southern Tibet
- M. c. sifanicus, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, western Sichuan, and northwestern Yunnan
Records from the Himalayan foothills are now considered a separate species, the Himalayan musk deer.
Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary
|Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary|
|— wildlife sanctuary —|
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
|District(s)||Chamoli & Rudraprayag|
|Nearest city||Srinagar, Uttarakhand|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+05:30)|
|Area||975 square kilometres (376 sq mi)|
• 1,160 metres (3,810 ft)
• 3,093 mm (121.8 in)
|Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary|
(Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary)
Nanda Devi in reserve forests precincts
Sanctuary entry from Chopta
Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary, also called the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary, is a national sanctuary in Uttarakhand, India. Its alternate name comes from its primary purpose of protecting the endangered Himalayan Musk Deer. Consisting of an area of 975 km2 (376 sq mi), it is the largest protected area in the western Himalayas. It is internationally important for the diversity of its flora and fauna (particularly of ungulate species).
Located in the Himalayan Highlands with an elevation ranging from 1,160 m (3,810 ft) (near Phata) to the Chaukhamba peak at 7,068 m (23,189 ft), it was a notified reserve forest between 1916 and 1920. It was changed to a sanctuary on January 21, 1972, and has been designated a "Habitat/Species Management Area" by the IUCN. Since 1972, the area of the park has expanded from 967–975 ha (2,390–2,409 acres).
The sanctuary straddles a geographically diverse landscape and transitional environment. IUCN has reported that "From 44.4% to 48.8% of the sanctuary is forested, 7.7% comprises alpine meadows and scrub, 42.1% is rocky or under permanent snow and 1.5% represents formerly forested areas that have been degraded."
The sanctuary takes its name from the famous Hindu temple of Kedarnath which is just outside its northern border. The entire 14 km (9 mi) route from Ghauri Khund to Kedarnath temple (3,584 m/11,759 ft) passes through the sanctuary.
Geographically situated in the Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand,Lying within the larger Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows of alpine ecoregion of India, Nepal and Tibet, the sanctuary is at its higher altitudes are characterised by glaciers which have, through glacial action over centuries, created deep "v" shaped valleys in the sanctuary. River valleys, generally in a north-south direction, are formed by the Mandakini, Kali, Biera, Balasuti and Menan rivers. The geological formation in the catchment is made up of "Central Crystallines" that are metamorpic rocks such as gneisses, granites and schists. The highest peaks in India are located in the Garhwal Himalayas where the sanctuary is delimited.
The sanctuary has a large number of Hindu temples located within its precincts. Kedarnath temple is the most historic of these and is visited by a very large number of pilgrims. This temple dates to the 8th century. Other temples, though not of matching importance, have strong legends related to the epic Mahabharata days. These are the Mandani, Madhyamaheshwar, Tungnath, Ansuya Devi and Rudranath. The local Hindu culture is also imbibed by the Bhotiyas (may be with some Tibetan link) who have pastoral work culture and are an integral part of the valleys. Visitors to these temples have occasionally been attacked by wildlife.
A typical temperate to sub-arctic climate prevails in the locale of the sanctuary. The South West summer monsoon rains recorded is the mean annual precipitation of 3,093 mm (122 in). This high value of precipitation is due to the fact that the hill ranges to the south, of about 3,000 m (9,800 ft) height, are open without much of rain-shadow effect. On the basis of rainfall of 3,050 mm (120 in) recorded near Tungnath in 1979-81, the monsoon rain (June to September) was about 81% while snow precipitation during December–March was 11%. Summer temperature recorded is 25 °C (77 °F), the highest in May or June; a mild and pleasant condition. The lowest winter temperature recorded in the first half of January is −10 °C (14 °F), when heavy snowfall is received in the upper region. This results in severe cold conditions. For about three months, following heavy snowfall in December, the sanctuary is snow covered.
The sanctuary is reputed to be one of the world’s richest bio-reserves. It is host to temperate forests in the middle altitudes; higher elevations are dotted by coniferous, sub-alpine and alpine forests, and further up by alpine grasslands and high-altitude Bugyals. The diverse climate and topography in the sanctuary area has created dense forests of chir pine, oak, birch, rhododendrons and alpine meadows with incidence of numerous Himalayan flowering plants. At Tungnath, two sedges, Carex lacta and C. munda, have been reported which had previously only been reported in the far west region of Nepal.
Some of the mammalian species of the carnivores are: jackal (Canis aureus), fox (Vulpes vulpes), Himalayan black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus) (V), yellow-throated Marten (Martes flavigula), leopard cat (Felis bengalensis), common leopard (Panthera pardus) (T) and snow leopard (Uncia uncia). Among the ungulates are Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Himalayan musk deer (Moschus leucogaster), and Indian muntjac. The primates recorded are rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) and common langur (Presbytis entellus). Among the smaller mammals are Hodgsons's Brown-toothed Shrew (Soriculus sp.), red giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista), and Royle's Mountain Vole (Alticola roylei)'. Reptile species recorded are: Himalayan pit viper (Gloydius himalayanus syn. Ancistrodon himalayanus) (common) and Boulenger's keelback (Amphiesma parallelum).
Important bird species reported are: Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni), Grey-cheeked Warbler (Seicercus poliogenys) and Nepal Tree-creeper (Certhia nipalensis), Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus) (it is the state bird of Uttarakhand, considered as endangered), Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos) and Koklass Pheasant (Pucrasia macrolopha).
Among the more notable of the animals in the region is the animal for which it is alternatively named; the musk deer. Declining population (over 40% in 21 years) of this specie and large scale poaching for profit, dictated the decision to declare it as an endangered animal (EN) in 1973 (Halloway, 1973) and the specie was listed vulnerable in the red data book of IUCN in 1974. It is found, not only in Uttarakhand in the Himalyan belt up to lowest elevation of 2,500 m (8,200 ft) (within a restricted zone), but also in some parts of the Himalayan belt starting from Northern India in Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim, and in Bhutan, Nepal and China (southwest Xizang) with small numbers reported in China. These deer dwell generally live alone at a density of 3-4 animals per square kilometer in meadows, fell-fields, shrublands or first forests.
The male species of the endangered musk deer in the Kedarnath Wild Life Sancturay carries the much valued pods musk pod (glands). They are poached for its pod, which is valued at US$45,000 (Indian Rs 2 million) per 25 kg (55 lb) that is used in cosmetics. It has reportedly pharmaceutical properties also. Its meat is also consumed as a delicacy. The animal is protected under the "Threatened Deer Programme" of the IUCN, with cooperation by the Government of India and World Wide Fund for Nature . The sanctuary includes a breeding center at Kharchula Kharak, both to help advance understanding of the animal's conservation requirements and to breed it in captivity for reintroduction to the wild. Through 1987, it had succeessfully reared nine deer.
Other scientifc activities centered around the sanctuary have been: the high-altitude botanical field station established at Tungnath (3,500 m/11,500 ft) by the Garhwal University; further ecological studies of the ungulates; WWF on ecology of the Himalayan musk deer and other ungulates near Tungnath, together with surveys of the mammalian fauna and avifauna; and fish fauna studies in the Mandakini River.
Visitors are mostly Indian nationals on pilgrimage to various temples, though a few international tourists also visit the area. The approach to Kedarnath Temple is only through the sanctuary. Visiting season is from April to June and again from September to November. The number of visitors to the Kedarnath shrine, who passed through the sanctuary, was 5,57,923 in 2007 as against 87,629 in 1987, a quantum jump in 20 years.
The nearest airport is at Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun at a distance of 227 km (141 mi) from Chopta, the entry point to the sanctuary. Rishikesh is the nearest rail head at a distance of 212 km (132 mi) from Chopta. National Highway NH 58 from Delhi passes through Chamoli via Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Roorkee, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Okhimath; and by state highway to Chopta.
The sanctuary and surroundings offer some housing for visitors, including the forest hut at Madhyamaheshwar for which prior reservation needs to be done through the DFO, Kedarnath Wildlife Division, Gopeshwar. The Temple Committee maintains Dharamshalas (rest houses or inns) for use by pilgrims and tourists at Trijuginarayan, Dougalbitta, Mandal, Gaurikund and Kedarnath. There is also a guest house at Sonprayag.
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- Sharad Singh Negi (1993). Himalayan wildlife, habitat and conservation. Indus Publishing. pp. 171–172. ISBN 81-85182-68-X, 9788185182681. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=W88pkms1dXEC&pg=PA171&dq=Kedarnath+Musk+deer+sanctuary&ei=DftdStu1Oo_SlATdrsDfAQ. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
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- P.C. Sinha (2005). Encyclopaedia of Travel, Tourism and Ecotourism. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.. pp. 166–167. ISBN 81-261-2398-2, 9788126123988. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=xUHl6ZGCrEMC&pg=PA166&dq=Kedarnath+Musk+deer+sanctuary&ei=DftdStu1Oo_SlATdrsDfAQ. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
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- Sharad Singh Negi (2002). Handbook of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and biosphere reserves in India. Indus Publishing. p. 165. ISBN 81-7387-128-0, 9788173871283. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=JYFmoOWfmX8C&pg=PA165&dq=Kedarnath+Musk+deer+sanctuary&ei=DftdStu1Oo_SlATdrsDfAQ.
- "Moschus leucogaster". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009.1. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/13901/0/full. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
- C.Tiwari; Bhagwati Joshi (1997). Wildlife in the Himalayan foothills. Indus Publishing. pp. 125 of 376. ISBN 81-7387-066-7, 9788173870668. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=1U8F4hdP6wgC&pg=PA125&dq=History+of+Kedarnath+Wild+Life+Sanctuary&ei=fSVlSvG7KZLMkgT4zYzMDw. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
- "Uttaranchal 09". Scribd. http://www.scribd.com/doc/6325714/09. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
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