Moschiola kathygre


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Moschiola kathygre
Species Authority: Groves & Meijaard, 2005
Common Name(s):
English Yellow-striped Chevrotain, Yellow-striped Mousedeer
Taxonomic Notes: Moschiola meminna was recently revised by Groves and Meijaard (2005) who restricted animals of this name to the dry zone of Sri Lanka, concluding that the populations in the wet zone comprise a different species, for which they proposed the name M. kathygre. Previous to this, all populations within Moschiola were considered conspecific, under the name M. meminna (as the oldest in the genus) and, prior to Groves and Grubb (1987), often as Tragulus meminna. The reality of the Groves and Meijaard (2005) taxonomic hypothesis, of two distinct species of chevrotain on Sri Lanka, one each in the dry and wet zones (and perhaps a third in the hill zone), and another in India, would benefit from independent confirmation: only three wet-zone skulls were available for the key analysis, making the significance of their absolute separation from the dry-zone series difficult to assess. However, as skull differences co-vary with pelage and body proportions, their taxonomic proposals are followed here, in the hope that so doing will encourage the generation of further information to consolidate or modify the arrangement. The hill zone animals are not considered under this species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W. & Timmins, R.J.
Reviewer(s): Black, P.A. & Gonzalez, S. (Deer Red List Authority)
The extent of occurrence of M. kathygre is probably about 15,000 km², within which it probably has an area of occupancy (in terms of available habitat) of about 1,500 km². On this basis the species could potentially be listed as Vulnerable under criteria B1 and B2. However, there is no suspicion that this is a species prone to wild fluctuations in numbers, it occurs in more than ten locations and there is no evidence for an ongoing decline in numbers. Explicitly, changes in the wet-zone forest cover cannot be used to infer a decline because of the species' wide habitat adaptability. M. kathygre is therefore listed as Least Concern, but should there be an abrupt rise in the rate of complete vegetation clearance in the wet zone, it would certainly qualify for at least the Near Threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Yellow-striped Chevrotain occurs in the Wet Zone of Sri Lanka, from Sinharaja Forest through the lowlands around Colombo north to Katagamuwa on the border of the Dry Zone at 6°24′N, 81°25′E, and into the highlands at least to the Kandy district (Groves and Meijaard 2005): specific localities are given in Groves and Meijaard 2005: 420). Riverine forests of the intermediate zone support some of Sri Lanka's wet zone endemic forest birds (BirdLife International 2001): no information has been traced on whether the wet zone chevrotain uses such habitats. No published records additional to Groves and Meijaard (2005) and following their suggested taxonomy were traced, although this species persists in the Talangama wetland close to Colombo (Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne pers. comm. 2008). Objective identification (i.e. not solely on the basis of habitat and location) of further animals at various localities within the island is required to test the hypothesis of Groves and Meijaard (2005) of a strict segregation of habitat between this species and M. memmina s.s.; these authors stressed their “admittedly small sample sizes”. Currently it might be rash for species-level identification to be assigned to individuals under the Groves and Meijaard (2005) taxonomic hypothesis solely on the basis of habitat.
Sri Lanka
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Based on localities of confirmed specimens, Yellow-striped Chevrotain appears to be widespread within the wet zone (Groves and Meijaard 2005), which is itself only a small proportion of the island. In the wet zone, chevrotains are common wherever there is relatively undisturbed secondary or better forest, and densities may be in the order of ten per km² or so; in the wet zone, chevrotains are more abundant in secondary forest than in primary, and occur commonly in rubber plantations and home gardens (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2008). During extensive spot-light surveys of the wet zone in 2001, chevrotains were the most commonly seen mammal, being seen at many sites and almost every night, but, while they clearly remain common, surveys in subsequent years to 2006 suggested that populations in the survey areas were declining (K.A.I. Nekaris pers. comm. 2008). There are certainly some steep local declines: for example, in the last eight years, the Talangama wetland close to Colombo have probably lost more than half the available cover to housing projects and in peri-urban sites such as this chevrotains also suffer heavy predation by domestic dogs. Unlike the small village dogs, Colombo's sub-urbanites increasingly keep large dogs which make short work of native mammals (Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne pers. comm. 2008). With increasing fragmentation of wet-zone forests, the proportion of animals in essentially small and spatially constrained areas, and so vulnerable to such localized pressures, increases.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Information for the genus is reviewed under M. indica and, given the previous treatment of all forms of Moschiola as conspecific, some of this information may relate to Yellow-striped Chevrotain. Differences in ecology, other than the basic restriction to wet forest of this species, have not been clarified within the genus. Yellow-striped Chevrotain freely enters rice paddies (K.A.I. Nekaris pers. comm. 2008), is more abundant in secondary forest than in primary, and occurs commonly in rubber plantations and home gardens (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In past centuries, there has been a major loss of habitat available to this chevrotain and thus in its population, reflecting a rise in the human population of Sri Lanka from one million in the 19th century to twenty million now (Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne pers. comm. 2008). There is now, overall, rather little forest habitat left in the wet zone: only 1,440 km² of rainforest were estimated to remain in Sri Lanka by Collins et al. (1991), and only 9% forest cover was estimated to remain in the wet zone (IUCN/WCMC 1997). This situation was caused by logging, fuelwood-gathering (domestic use and for brick-making), agricultural conversion (including for tree crops), mining, urbanisation, and fire (Collins et al. 1991). Legal protection of the remaining wet zone forests is quite effective (IUCN/WCMC 1997) but encroachment of human populations is fragmenting and degrading them (National Environment Action Plan 1998–2001). Even some protected areas have suffered severe degradation (Hoffmann 1996). In the decade up to 2008, there has been a major growth in tea small holdings within the wet zone, which were mostly forest patches until then (P. Fernando pers. comm. 2008). However, the level of threat these activities pose to chevrotains is unclear, because in the wet zone chevrotains are common wherever there is relatively undisturbed secondary or better forest (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2008). In fact, in the wet zone chevrotains are more abundant in secondary forest than in primary, so habitat "degradation" by itself is unlikely to be a threat, especially as they also occur commonly in rubber plantations and home gardens (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2008). Sri Lankan chevrotains are hunted, with firearms, for their meat in areas where security broke down during the civil war (Santiapillai and Wijeyamotan 2003), but it there is no reason to suppose that this is at levels sufficient to drive major population declines. Gun-hunting of birds was considered a limited threat, given the strict gun controls wrought by the security situation and the high cost of ammunition by BirdLife International (2001), but for chevrotains snaring and other forms of trapping, not of concern to public order, may be more serious.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: A number of well-secured protected areas exist within Yellow-striped Chevrotain’s range, within which it is presumed to occur (and is confirmed from some). Perhaps most notable in terms of long-term security is Sinharaja National Heritage Wilderness Area, a World Heritage Site which is actively protected under the jurisdiction of the Forest Department (IUCN/WCMC 1997). Sri Lanka's protected area network is extensive but is least developed in the wet zone. Expansion to cover nearly all forests remaining in the wet zone has been proposed (IUCN/WCMC 1997). Following concerns that existing conservation laws were ineffective, a moratorium was passed in 1990 to protect all wet-zone forests from logging and legal protection of the remaining wet zone forests was shortly afterwards adjudged to be quite effective (IUCN/WCMC 1997). Wet forest conservation within Sri Lanka is the essential foundation to the survival of this species. The National Environment Action Plan (NEAP 1998–2001) gives a comprehensive guidance for achieving this. It is also desirable to determine to what, if any, extent the species extends outside the wet zone along riverine strips.

Citation: Duckworth, J.W. & Timmins, R.J. 2008. Moschiola kathygre. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 21 December 2014.
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