The known elevational range based on camera-trap data is from 700 m to 1,220 m asl in Myanmar (R.J. Timmins and Than Zaw pers. comm. 2008, based on WCS unpublished data); Indian specimens were reported by hunters to have come from 900–1,100 m asl (Datta et al. 2003). Amato et al. (1999b) stated that the leaf muntjac “resides ‘on mountain tops’ while the other two larger sympatric species, the common [northern red] muntjac, M. muntjak, and the [a taxon allied to] black muntjac, M. crinifrons, are found lower down”. Rabinowitz et al. (1999) made a similar statement that the species was only found on “distant hilltops” away from village areas from 1,600 to 2,000 m asl. These statements are not consistent with more specific information from Myanmar and India, above.
Habitat and Ecology
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Rabinowitz et al. (1999) suggested that this species and other muntjacs are less adaptable than other deer, and that this might explain the ‘restricted’ ranges of this and other small muntjacs. However, the thee most widespread muntjacs, M. muntjak, M. vaginalis, and M. reevesi, are very successful: they use a wide variety of forested habitats, and are well able to exploit secondary and degraded habitats. Secondly, and contrary to the statements of Rabinowitz et al. (1999) and others, which have not taken into account the patchiness of suitable surveying, the ‘small’ muntjacs comprising the M. rooseveltorum species-complex are not particularly restricted in range, but are rather widespread in montane areas of northern southeast Asia. The lack of evidence of the complex from many areas, giving an apparent disjunct distribution, is much more likely to reflect the paucity of suitable surveys than the genuine distribution pattern. Survey work in southwest and southeast China, much of Myanmar, the Himalayan region and northern and western Thailand have certainly been insufficient to conclude anything about the range of this species-complex in those regions.
Muntjac-leather jackets are an almost ubiquitous status appareil in Myitkyina and other Kachin state towns, although there is no information on the proportions of the different muntjac species used in their manufacture (J.W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2008). Even in advance of any further taxonomic understanding it can be assumed that hunting management activities are likely to be a conservation need for this muntjac; if it is a species with limited resilience to hunting, such measures are urgently needed.
There are surveys currently underway in India (Arunachal Pradesh), especially within the Namdapha Tiger Reserve (Datta et al., 2003).
The leaf muntjac, leaf deer or Putao muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis) is a small species of muntjac. It was discovered in 1997 by biologist Alan Rabinowitz during his field study in the isolated Naungmung Township in Myanmar. Rabinowitz discovered the species by examining the small carcass of a deer that he initially believed was the juvenile of another species; however, it proved to be the carcass of an adult female. He managed to obtain specimens, from which DNA analysis revealed a new cervid species. Local hunters knew of the species and called it the leaf deer because its body could be completely wrapped by a single large leaf.
Distribution and habitat
The leaf muntjac is uniquely found in dense forests of Myanmar, in the Hukawng Valley region to the Northeast of Putao, hence its scientific epithet, and to the south of the Nam Tamai branch of the Mai Hka River. It is found at an altitude of 450 to 600 m — the transition zone between tropical forests and temperate ones. Its existence in India was first reported from Lohit district in eastern Arunachal Pradesh In 2002, it was reported also to exist in Namdapha Tiger Reserve, also in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, India. It has also been noted from the Lohit and Changlang region and near Noklak in Nagaland. It probably inhabits suitable habitat over the entire junction of the Pātkai Bum and the Kumon Taungdan ranges. Recently, it has been recorded in several new areas of Arunachal Pradesh.
An adult leaf deer stands at just 20 inches (50 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs less than 25 pounds (11 kg). They are light brown. Males have unbranched antlers that are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in height. Other than this, the male and female deer are identical. This species is unusual among other deer because their offspring do not bear any spots. It also differs from other muntjacs because both the male and female have pronounced canine tusks.
- Timmins, R.J., Duckworth, J.W. & Zaw, T. (2008). Muntiacus putaoensis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of data deficient.
- Rabinowitz, AR; T. Myint; ST Khaing & S Rabinowitz (1999) Description of the Leaf Deer (Muntiacus putaoensis), a new species of muntjac from northern Myanmar. J. Zool. 249:427-435
- Ellis, Richard (2004). No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 260. ISBN 0-06-055804-0.
- Choudhury, A.U. (2003) The mammals of Arunachal Pradesh. Regency Publications, New Delhi. 140pp
- Datta, A;J Pansa; MD Madhusudan & C Mishra (2003) Discovery of the Leaf Deer (Muntiacus putaoensis) in Arunachal Pradesh: an addition to the large mammals of India. Current Science 84:454-458
- Choudhury, A.U. (2007) Discovery of Leaf Deer Muntiacus putaoensis Rabinowitz et al. in Nagaland with a new northerly record from Arunachal Pradesh. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 104(2):205-208
- Choudhury, A.U.(2008). Survey of mammals and birds in Dihang–Dibang Biosphere Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh. Final Report to Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India. The Rhino Foundation for Nature in North East India, Guwahati, India. 70 pp.
- Choudhury, A.U.(2009) Records and distribution of Gongshan and leaf muntjacs in India. Deer Specialist Group News 23: 2-7.
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