Overview

Distribution

Range Description

The species is known only from a limited area in northern Myanmar and adjacent India. The known range is in the mountain region between the Mali Kha and Mai Kha rivers of the Hakakaborazi National Park and adjacent Naungmung area of northern Kachin state, Myanmar, south within Kachin state through the Hponkhanrazi range to the Bumpha Bum range (also known as Sumprabum), based on camera-trap data (R.J. Timmins and Than Zaw pers. comm. based on WCS unpublished data). Schaller and Rabinowitz (2004) stated there are also specimen records from the Hukaung valley and near Saramati massif, this latter extending the species' range south to 25°42′N, 95°13′E. Records of M. putaoensis from northeastern India (Datta et al. 2003) initially identified morphologically have been confirmed by recent genetic analysis of five specimens as M. putaoensis (James et al. press). Specimens came from the villages of Lumpang (96°10′09″E, 27°17′45″E) and of Mossang Putok (96°17′38″E, 27°20′37″E), in the general areas of the northeast part of Namdapha Tiger Reserve and reserve forests to the south-west in the Patkai hills in Jairampur Forest Division (Datta et al. 2003, James et al. in press). The species could also occur east from its known range in Myanmar towards the border of China, and possibly into China; Wang (2003) listed the species, without caveat of identification for Yunnan, specifically ‘western parts-Tengchong, Lianghe, Yingjiang and Longchuan’. No details were given for the basis of this statement. The southern extent of the species range is very uncertain as little survey work has been carried out in potentially suitable areas.

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 comm. 2008, based on WCS unpublished data); Indian specimens were reported by hunters to have come from 900–1,100 m asl (Datta et al. 2003).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. crinifronset 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.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
All known localities are in forest and like other muntjacs the leaf muntjac is probably tied to forest. There is no information available on its tolerance to degradation and fragmentation. The species occurs sympatrically with northern red muntjac but is probably largely allopatric with M. gongshanensis, with the latter apparently at higher altitudes (R.J. Timmins and Than Zaw pers. comm. 2008 based on WCS unpublished data). The species apparently feeds on a range of plant materials, including fruits; an examination of stomach contents by Rabinowitz et al. (1999) revealed mostly fruit.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
DD
Data Deficient

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Timmins, R.J., Duckworth, J.W. & Zaw, T.

Reviewer/s
Black, P.A. & Gonzalez, S. (Deer Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
The leaf muntjac is listed as Data Deficient, since there is a lack of certainty about the species' taxonomy, distribution, natural history, population, and threats. It is known from a limited area, but its range could be much more extensive. If the species' populations are susceptible to the high levels of hunting in the region, then this species could well be severely at risk. However, if the species is like northern red muntjac M. vaginalis, then it may well be able to withstand the current hunting pressure and could warrant a listing of Near Threatened or perhaps even Least Concern.
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Population

Population
There is no information on the global population size or trends for this species, but camera-trapping within the species' range has captured it with similar frequency to northern red muntjac, suggesting that it is likely to be naturally abundant (R.J. Timmins and Than Zaw pers. comm. 2008 based on WCS unpublished data). Sample sizes are too small to say anything more conclusive (R.J. Timmins and Than Zaw pers. comm. 2008 based on WCS unpublished data). Villagers’ assessments of hunting levels suggest that the species is relatively abundant but decreasing over time (Rabinowitz et al. 1999).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The major threat to leaf muntjac may be hunting, not targeted on this species, which is heavy throughout in its Indian and Myanmar range (Datta et al. 2003; Than Zaw and J.W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2006), but the species' resilience to such hunting is unknown. The presumed Indian range is within areas of rapid habitat loss and human expansion; much of the Myanmar range is within an area which has seen remarkable stability of forest cover (Renner et al. 2007). However, this healthy situation may change in the near future, as some other forests of northern Kachin (which have not been surveyed for the species, and so may hold, or have held, it) have recently been devastated (Eames 2007). Although habitat needs, and thus the effects of forest fragmentation and degradation are essentially unknown, it is unlikely that viable populations can survive outright forest conversion. It is also likely that in areas where forest is being fragmented, negative effects of hunting on populations of leaf deer are compounded and populations decline, whatever intrinsic ability the species has to use fragmented areas.

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.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There is limited knowledge on this newly discovered species, and more information is needed on its biology, ecology, threats, and population size and trends. The known range has several large protected areas. The major taxonomic uncertainties over this group of species needs resolution before a solid conservation assessment can be made.

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).
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Wikipedia

Leaf muntjac

The leaf muntjac, leaf deer or Putao muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis) is a small species of muntjac.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3]

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[4] In 2002, it was reported also to exist in Namdapha Tiger Reserve, also in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, India.[5] It has also been noted from the Lohit and Changlang region and near Noklak in Nagaland.[6] 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.[7][8]

Description

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.[3] 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.[3]


References

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ a b c d e Ellis, Richard (2004). No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 260. ISBN 0-06-055804-0.
  4. ^ Choudhury, A.U. (2003) The mammals of Arunachal Pradesh. Regency Publications, New Delhi. 140pp
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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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