Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:197
Specimens with Barcodes:156
Species With Barcodes:16
The Kashmir stag (Cervus canadensis hanglu), also called hangul, is a subspecies of wapiti native to India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir where it is the state animal. Kashmir stag is listed as critically endangered by IUCN as population is counted 160 mature individuals in the 2008 census.
This deer has a light rump patch without including the tail. Its coat color is brown with a speckling to the hairs. The inner sides of the buttocks are greyish white, followed by a line on the inner sides of the thighs and black on the upper side of the tail. Each antler consists of five tines. The beam is strongly curved inward, while the brow and bez tines are usually close together and above the burr.
Distribution and ecology
This deer lives in groups of two to 18 individuals in dense riverine forests, high valleys, and mountains of the Kashmir valley and northern Chamba in Himachal Pradesh. In Kashmir, it's found in the Dachigam National Park (at elevations of 3,035 meters), Rajparian Wildlife Sanctuary, Overa Aru, Sind Valley, and in the forests of Kishtwar & Bhaderwah.
Threats and conservation
These deer once numbered from about 5,000 animals in the beginning of the 20th century. Unfortunately, they were threatened, due to habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock, and poaching. This dwindled to as low as 150 animals by 1970. However, the state of Jammu & Kashmir, along with the IUCN and the WWF prepared a project for the protection of these animals. It became known as Project Hangul. This brought great results and the population increased to over 340 by 1980.
Much of the earlier published material was by the distinguished E. P. Gee, a member of the Bombay Natural History Society. Shortly before the expedition was mounted, Fiona Guinness and Tim Clutton-Brock, both noted deer experts, had visited Kashmir and had gathered some useful field data, which confirmed that Hangul numbers were at a dangerously low level.
The animal is battling for its survival in its last bastion: they are now scattered within 141 km² of the Dachigam National Park located on foothills of Zabarwan range on the outskirts of Srinagar. Known for its magnificent antlers with 11 to 16 points, hangul was once distributed widely in the mountains of Kashmir. During the 1940s, their number was believed to be about 3,000-5,000. As per the latest census in 2008, only around 160 exist. There are plans to breed them in captivity to increase their chances of survival.
Cervus is a genus of deer that primarily are native to Eurasia, although one species occurs in northern Africa and another in North America. In addition to the species presently placed in this genus, it has included a whole range of other species now commonly placed in other genera, but some of these should perhaps be returned to Cervus. Additionally, the species-level taxonomy is in a state of flux.
Until the 1970s, Cervus also included the members of the genera Axis, Dama, Elaphurus and Hyelaphus, and until the late 1980s, it included members of Przewalskium, Rucervus and Rusa. With the exception of the chital (Axis axis), barasinga (Rucervus duvaucelii), Schomburgk's deer (R. schomburgki), and members of the genus Dama, genetic evidence suggests all should be returned to Cervus.
In the third edition of Mammal Species of the World from 2005, only the red deer (C. elaphus) and sika deer (C. nippon) were recognized as species in the genus Cervus. Genetic and morphological evidence suggest more species should be recognized. For example, the subspecies C. e. canadensis (elk/wapiti) is considered by some to be a separate species.
Red deer species group
Within the red deer species group, some sources have recommended the elk or wapiti (C. canadensis) and central Asian red deer should be treated as species. If the central Asian red deer (from the Caspian Sea to western China) is recognized as a species, it includes the Yarkand deer and Bactrian deer (the two may be synonymous), but it could possibly also include the Kashmir stag, which has not been sampled in recent studies. If it is included in the Central Asian Red Deer, the scientific name of that species is C. hanglu. If it is not included in the central Asian deer, the scientific name of that species is C. yarkandensis, and the Kashmir stag (C. hanglu) may represent a separate monotypic species.
Others members of the red deer group, which may represent separate species, are C. corsicanus, C. wallichii and C. xanthopygus. If so, C. corsicanus includes the subspecies C. c. barbarus (perhaps a synonym of corsicanus), and is restricted to Maghreb in North Africa, Corsica and Sardinia. C. wallichii would probably include the subspecies C. w. kansuensis and C. w. macneilli (both are perhaps synonyms of C. w. wallichii), and would be found from Tibet to central China. C. xanthopygus would probably include the subspecies C. x. alashanicus (perhaps a synonym of C. x. xanthopygus), and would be found from the Russian Far East to northeastern China. This would restrict the "true" red deer (C. elaphus) to Europe, Anatolia, Caucasus and northwestern Iran, and the elk/wapiti (C. canadensis) to North America and the Asian regions of Tian Shan, Altai, and Great Khingan. Alternatively, the barbarus group species are subspecies of the "true" red deer, while the C. wallichii and C. xanthopygus groups are subspecies of the elk/wapiti.
Sika deer species group
The sika deer should be split into four species based on genetics, morphology and voice, although this may be premature based on the presently available evidence. If split, the potential species are C. yesoensis from northern and central Japan (Hokkaido, and northern and central Honshu), C. nippon of southern Japan (southern Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, Okinawa, Tsushima and other small islands), C. hortulorum of mainland Asia (Russian Far East, Korea, central and eastern China, and northern Vietnam), and C. taiouanus of Taiwan.
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- Smith and Xie, editors (2008). Mammals of China. ISBN 978-0-691-09984-2
- Harris, R.B. (2008). "Cervus nippon". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
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