Catalog Number: USNM 63472
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Preparation: Skin; Skull; Skeleton
Collector(s): W. Abbott
Year Collected: 1895
Locality: Bandipur, Jammu And Kashmir, India, Asia
Elevation (m): 2438
- Type: 1982. Saugetierkundliche Mitteilungen. 30 (1): 133.
Habitat and Ecology
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Besides hunting for meat, which is considered a delicacy locally, hunting of the muskdeer is primarily for trade of musk glands, which reached the area reportedly only 30 years ago and has led to a substantial increase in hunting since then. The musk produced by this genus of primitive deer is highly valued for its cosmetic and alleged pharmaceutical properties, and can fetch U.S. $45,000 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) on the international market. Although this musk, produced in a gland of the males, can be extracted from live animals, most "musk-gatherers" kill the animals to remove the entire sac, which yields only about 25 grams (1/40 of a kilogram) of the brown waxy substance. Such poaching is relatively easy to accomplish and difficult to stop using only legal means. Today local hunters are reportedly able to get ca $200-250 per musk gland from mostly foreign traders (the main market is reportedly in the Middle East). The increased availability of guns over the last few decades and the political instability in the area, which has resulted in a basically uncontrolled trade to bordering Pakistan, have added significantly to the amount of wildlife being hunted for trade. During the summer the species stays in higher mountain regions and is apparently opportunistically hunted by shepherds (almost all of whom carry guns for hunting purposes). Most animals are reportedly hunted in winter when muskdeer distribution and ranging patterns are most predictable. As reported, the species is exclusively hunted with guns; snares apparently are not being used at least in the area surveyed (WCS/USAID Afghanistan Biodiversity Conservation Program / Maria Karlstetter pers. comm. 2008).
The Government of Afghanistan has listed M. cupreus on the country’s Protected Species List, banning all hunting and trading of this species within Afghanistan.
Kashmir musk deer
The Kashmir musk deer (Moschus cupreus) is an endangered species of musk deer native to Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. This species was originally described as a subspecies to the alpine musk deer, but is now classified as a separate species. The deer stand at 60 cm (2.0 ft) tall, and only males have tusks and they use them during mating season to compete for females.
The Kashmir musk deer, which is one of seven similar species found throughout Asia, is endangered due to habitat loss and also because of poachers hunting the animal for its prized scent glands. It is listed as an endangered species in Pakistan.
No musk deer had been seen from 1948 until 2008. In 2014, at least three were reported to be spotted in surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009 in Nuristan, Afghanistan. A recent survey by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has revealed at least three of the creatures are currently living on the Afghanistan's rugged north-eastern slopes.
- Timmins, R.J. & Duckworth, J.W. (2008). "Moschus cupreus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- "Elusive fanged deer spotted for 1st time in 66 years".
- Ostrowski, Stephane; Haqiq Rahmani; Jan Mohammad Ali; Rita Ali; Peter Zahler (2014). "Musk deer Moschus cupreus persist in the eastern forests of Afghanistan". Oryx: 1–6. doi:10.1017/S0030605314000611. ISSN 0030-6053.
- "Endangered 'vampire deer' spotted lurking in remote Afghanistan forest".
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!