DistributionRead full entry
Range DescriptionThe Lesser Oriental Chevrotain as defined here occurs in Borneo, Sumatra, the Thai–Malay Peninsula, many islands within the Greater Sunda region, and continental South east Asia north to at least 18°10′N, as established through Lao PDR specimens from Thangon (Osgood 1932; Chasen 1940; Meijaard 2003; Meijaard and Groves 2004; E. Meijaard pers. comm. 2004). This includes the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam.
Grubb (2005) also included China, but the occurrence there of T. kanchil is not confirmed, reflecting the difficulty of separation from T. williamsoni. Records from Yunnan Province seem on present evidence likely at least to include T. williamsoni (E. Meijaard pers. comm. 2008) but the additional occurrence of T. kanchil cannot be ruled out. Similarly, records in Viet Nam north to ca 22ºN (Dang Huy Hyunh 1994) and in the west part of Lao PDR’s northern highlands (e.g. Johnson et al. 2003; 21°N), could refer to T. kanchil or to T. williamsoni, or to a mix. It is unclear if there are chevrotains at all in the central and eastern parts of Lao PDR’s northern highlands. The record of chevrotain signs in Evans et al. (2000) for Phou Dendin NPA, far north-eastern Lao PDR and outside the interview derived range as shown in Duckworth et al. (1999: 269), was by a relatively inexperienced observer and upon recent re-examination of his original notes, he has retracted the record, since confusion with muntjac fawn was possible (W.G. Robichaud pers. comm. 2008). More telling, during interviews by the same observer in the same area in 2004–2005, villagers commonly reported that while they knew what a chevrotain ("kai", or "fan kai") is, most said they are essentially absent from the area (including the southern sector), and always have been. But whether they are truly absent or only rare differed somewhat with informants (W.G. Robichaud pers. comm. 2008). Likewise, the northern extent of T. kanchil in Thailand remains unclear. No species of chevrotain appears to penetrate Myanmar away from Tennaserim (Tun Yin 1967; Lynam 2003; in the latter, identifications to species should be disregarded). Well outside the confirmed range of the genus, Khan (1985) speculated that Lesser Oriental Chevrotain might occur in Bangladesh: "over a hundred villagers, whom I have interviewed have said they have either seen, killed or eaten such an animal". But he could procure no physical evidence for this, and none has been traced subsequently (Md Anwarul Islam pers. comm. 2008).
A recent taxonomic revision of chevrotains (Meijaard and Groves 2004), followed here, attaches a slight doubt to assume that any records, other than those validated through examination of specimens, from non-Sundaic South-east Asia, certainly refer to this species; as well as T. williamsoni (of at least northern Thailand, but perhaps with a much wider range) there is also T. versicolor of South-east Viet Nam, also perhaps with a much wider range. This Red List account assumes that the chevrotains of the Mekong basin and Thailand south from 18°N to the Thai–Malay peninsula refer to T. kanchil, on the basis of a fair number of specimens from many localities (E. Meijaard pers. comm. 2008: a listing of the mainland specimens examined for Meijaard and Groves 2004). Further south, T. kanchil is widely sympatric with T. napu, making chevrotains often challenging to identify (particularly for people with limited field experience of the genus) on field views, camera-trap photographs and even in hunting studies (Duckworth 1997; Matsubayashi and Sukor 2005). Many observers have therefore pooled their Sundaic chevrotain records as ‘chevrotain spp.’ (e.g. Bennett et al. 2000; Laidlaw 2000; Linkie et al. 2003; O'Brien 2003; Kawanishi and Sunquist 2004; Azlan 2006; Azlan and Engkamat Lading 2006; Lynam et al. 2007). Thus, the information base for determining this species' status is much thinner than would be expected from the general perception of the genus as being widespread and common, at least in the Sundaic part of its range.