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Tragulus nigricans

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA TRAGULIDAE

Scientific Name: Tragulus nigricans
Species Authority: Thomas, 1892
Common Name(s):
English Balabac Mouse Deer, Philippine Mouse-deer, Balabac Chevrotain
French Chevrotain de Balbac
Synonym(s):
Tragulus napu subspecies nigricans Thomas, 1892
Taxonomic Notes: This taxon was recently separated by Meijaard and Groves (2004) as a species distinct from Tragulus napu, in agreement with Sanborn (1952) and Rabor (1977). The population of Pulau Bangi (Malaysia), which lies mid-way between Balabac and the Bornean mainland, and which was almost certainly (and perhaps repeatedly) connected to both by former (late Pleistocene) land bridges (Heaney 1986), might belong to this species and requires further taxonomic studies.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-11-17
Assessor(s): Widmann, P.
Reviewer(s): Brook, S.M. & McShea, W.J.
Contributor(s): Oliver, W. & Matillano, J.
Justification:
Listed as Endangered because its extent of occurrence is less than 5,000 km²; occurring in three locations on Balabac, Bugsuk and Ramos Islands (Oliver 1993, Heaney et al. 2002, Grubb 2005). The species is undergoing continuing decline as it is subject to poaching for food and it is affected by habitat loss due to conversion of former habitat to coconut plantations and other agriculture.
History:
2008 Endangered
1996 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: On current knowledge, this species is endemic to the Philippines, where it is known only from Balabac, Bugsuk and Ramos Islands (Oliver 1993, Heaney et al. 2002, Grubb 2005). It has also been introduced to Apulit and Calauit Island (Meijaard and Groves 2004, Rico and Oliver 2008).
Countries:
Native:
Philippines
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The latest survey was in 1993 (Oliver 1993), when the population was reputed to be quite stable and available information suggested that those on Balabac were seemingly able to withstand sustained hunting pressure. However, more recent information from local hunters indicates that it is now more difficult to capture these animals, suggesting a likely decline. Despite being protected at the national and provincial level, on Balabac hunting is tolerated as long as gravid females are not taken (Antonio pers. comm. 2014). Hunting is highly restricted on Bugsuk which is on a long-term lease to a pearl farm. The island is guarded by private security and access is limited. During fieldwork for the Philippine Cockatoo, the species was regularly encountered on the island, but population estimates are not available. No recent information from Ramos is available, but it is likely that Bugsuk is now the stronghold for the species.

In the late 1990s, a small stock of eight mouse deer escaped from their enclosures on Calauit Island, where the species had been maintained and bred since 1982. These animals were reported to have increased to at least free-living 21 individuals by 2006 (Rico and Oliver 2008).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The species occurs in primary and secondary lowland forest and shrubland, and may frequent mangroves and more open areas to forage. On Bugsuk it is recorded in coconut plantations with dense understorey.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is subject to poaching for food, and there is minor domestic trade in living animals.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is subject to poaching for food, and there is minor domestic trade in live animals for local zoos and private collectors. Due to unsuitable crating resulting in broken limbs, poached animals are known to have perished during transport. The species is also affected by habitat loss due to conversion of former habitat to coconut plantations and other agriculture.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Mouse deer are surprisingly well-known within the Philippines and constitute a potentially ideal vehicle for promoting increased future conservation, research and education activities in this region (Grubb and Gardiner 1998), though little or no effective action has been taken to date. The species was included in Katala Foundation’s conservation education campaign “Share a place to live” for the Pandanan/Bugsuk site of the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Programme. A badge featuring the species was produced. The species is fully protected under both Philippine national law and various local (provincial and municipal) ordinances (NRMC 1985), but these are mostly ineffectively enforced at the present time. The species would undoubtedly also benefit from the establishment of effectively protected areas (it is not currently known from any), and the enhanced enforcement of laws on hunting and trade. Research is needed on its habitat requirements, threats and conservation needs throughout it is extremely limited range; the latter therefore also including Bugsuk Island, much of which is privately-owned and inaccessible to researchers without prior permission. Existing captive populations of this species could be more usefully utilized as the basis for a properly structured conservation breeding programme; though any such initiative should be linked to related in situ conservation management and applied research requirements. (Re)introduction to other satellite islands of Palawan should be explored to reduce extinction risk of the few remaining subpopulations. 

Citation: Widmann, P. 2015. Tragulus nigricans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 28 August 2015.
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