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Capricornis thar

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BOVIDAE

Scientific Name: Capricornis thar
Species Authority: Hodgson, 1831
Common Name(s):
English Himalayan Serow
Synonym(s):
Capricornis sumatraensis Hodgson, 1831 subspecies thar
Taxonomic Notes: Taxonomy of serows is not completely resolved; descriptions, range maps, and assessments of conservation status in the literature vary because sources differ on nomenclature and specific/subspecific status of the various taxa. Here, we follow the taxonomy of Wilson and Reeder, 3rd edition (2005). Thus, we recognize six species of Capricornis:

C. crispus (Japanese Serow, restricted to Japan)
C. milneedwardsii (Chinese Serow, but also occurring in southeast Asian countries)
C. rubidus (Red Serow, restricted to Myanmar)
C. sumatraensis (Sumatran Serow, in Indonesia, Malaysia and southern Thailand)
C. swinhoei (Formosan Serow, restricted to Taiwan, Province of China)
C. thar (Himalayan Serow, along the Himalayan range)

The genus Naemorhedus is recognized as referring to gorals. Note that this taxonomy differs from that of Wilson and Reeder, 2nd edition (1993), that of the 2007 IUCN Red List (IUCN 2007), as well as that adopted by the IUCN Caprinae Specialist Group (Shackleton 1997). Additionally, most Chinese sources consider serows in China as being N. sumatraensis (e.g., Wang 1998, Wang 2002).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W. & MacKinnon, J.
Reviewer(s): Harris, R. & Festa-Bianchet, M. (Caprinae Red List Authority)
Justification:
Listed as Near Threatened because this species is believed to be in significant decline (but probably at a rate of less than 30% over three generations, taken at 21 years) due to hunting for food and habitat loss, making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criteria A2cd.
History:
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is known to occur in east and southeast Bangladesh, Himalayas (Bhutan, northern India including Sikkim and Nepal), China (Tibet only), northeast India (provinces east of Bangladesh), and probably into western Myanmar (Grubb, 2005).

Formerly, serow used to occur in the whole region of Bangladesh east of the Jumuna river (90°E). Today, it is very rare and confined to a few scattered, isolated populations in pockets of evergreen and sal forests of northern Mymensingh, northeastern Sylhet, Chittagong, and Chittagong Hill Tracts (Gittins and Akonda, 1982; Kahn, 1985). Serow from the neighboring Indian states of Meghalaya and Tripura are believed to enter the districts of Comilla, Jamalpur and Myemsingh (Green, 1987b). In northeastern India, the red serow apparently occurs south of the Brahmaputra river in hilly tracts in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura (Green, 1987b; Groves and Grubb, 1985).

The Himalayan serow is widespread but sparsely distributed throughout the forested southern slopes of the Himalaya in northern India, from Jammu and Kashmir to the Mishmi hills in Arunachal Pradesh, and in the hill states of northeastern India (Prater 1971). Himalayan serow is known to be locally present between 300 and 3,000 m as in all Himalayan states (Green 1987b), and is found extensively in the Sutlej and Beas River catchments (Himachal Pradesh) (Pandey, 2002).

Almost nothing is known of its distribution in Bhutan, other than it can exist in subtropical and temperate zones, and has been recorded in Royal Manas and Black Mountain National Parks (NCS, 1995). This serow is probably widespread throughout the forested mountain slopes of Nepal.

In China, it occurs in the forest belt between 2,000 and 3,000 m only in the narrow area on south slope of Qomolangma on the border with Nepal. Observations of serow running across highways are not infrequent (Feng et al., 1986). A population is found in the narrow area east of the Big Bend of Yarlung Zangbo River, where it inhabits sub-alpine forests (Feng et al., 1986). Identification of this taxon in China, which is mainly distributed on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, is based on a specimen obtained from Pugiongshan in Medog county in Tibet.
Countries:
Native:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; China; India; Nepal
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: No estimates of population size are available in India, but density in good habitat within Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary (Uttaranchal) has been estimated at 1.6 serow/km² (Green, 1987a). No censuses have been made in Bangladesh, but numbers are believed to be very low, as are densities. No estimates of population size or trends have been made, but the population in China is believed to be small (Feng et al., 1986), and the habitat and secretive behavior make estimating population numbers very difficult in Nepal.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Accounts from throughout the species' range report that it inhabits rugged steep hills and rocky places, especially limestone regions up to 3,000 m asl, and also in hill and mountain forest areas with gentler terrain.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Though sometimes heavily hunted by locals for meat and trophies, habitat destruction, especially loss of forest understory due to clearing for agriculture and to collection of fuelwood, is probably the main threat to serow in India (Green, 1987b). Within some protected areas, serow populations may approach maximum densities of 2 animals/km². However, its apparent preferred habitat of steep, thickly vegetated slopes, is so patchily distributed that overall densities are low and serow is relatively rare throughout its range. Serow habitat is generally at higher elevations than the areas of intensive agriculture in the western Himalaya. Here, and in the eastern Himalaya (where cultivation is less extensive anyway), hunting is apparently the most importance influence on serow populations.

Habitat disturbance and poaching are the greatest threats to its survival in Bangladesh, both related to slash and burn (jhoom) cultivation (Khan, 1985).

The main threat in China is probably hunting. Although officially 64% of Bhutan remains forested, the figure is probably closer to 50% (Sargent, 1985), making deforestation one of the main threats to the forest-dwelling serow. Serow requires denser habitat than goral and hence is likely to be more susceptible to deforestation and removal of understory vegetation. In winters with heavy snowfalls, avalanches can cause considerable mortality within some serow populations. Poaching is also a problem in Nepal.

Hunting of this species is probably both for food and traditional medicine.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Himalayan serow is listed on Appendix I of CITES. In India, it is listed in Schedule I (revised March 1987) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972) and is thus totally protected. This status has been accepted by all states except Nagaland. In China, it is a Class II nationally protected species.

Within India, this species of serow occurs in a number of protected areas in Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, and Sikkim, as well as a few protected areas in Manipur, Meghalaya, and Mizoram (Kathayat and Mathur (2002). In total, it is present in over 50 Indian protected areas, ranging in size from 4 km² to 1,800 km², and totaling about 17,000 km². However, many of these areas include substantial habitat unsuitable for serow and it is has been suggested that only some 6,000 to 8,000 km² of ca. 19,000 km² of good serow habitat in India, lies within protected areas (Johnsingh, 1991; Johnsingh et al., in prep. H). Serow occurs in the following protected areas (Fox et al., 1986; Green, 1987b; Kumar and Rao, 1985; Lamba, 1987; S. Pandey, 2002; Singh et al., 1990): Jammu and Kashmir- Dachigam National Park and Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary; Himachal Pradesh-Great Himalayan National Park and the Daranghati, Gamgul Siya-Behi, Kalatop, Kanawar, Khokhan, Kugti, Manali, Naina Devi, Rupi Bhaba, Sechu Tuan Nala, Tirthan (possibly) and Tundah Wildlife Sanctuaries; Uttar Pradesh -Nanda Devi National Park, Govind Pashu Vihar and Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuaries; Sikkim - Khangchendzonga National Park; Arunachal Pradesh - Namdapha National Park; and - Megahakrya - Balphakram National Park. However, the species is considered to be locally threatened even within some of these protected areas (e.g. Great Himalayan National Park and Daranghati, Manali, Tirthan and Tundah Wildlife Sanctuaries). Status within country: Indeterminate. Conservation measures proposed for India: 1) Establish the proposed Srikhand National Park, Himachal Pradesh. 2) Develop a management program for maintaining serow habitat and sustaining hunting outside protected areas. Habitat alteration and hunting will continue to negatively affect serow populations throughout northern India, and because serow is apparently dependent on patches of dense vegetation associated with rugged terrain, the alteration or elimination of such vegetation will be highly detrimental to the species. Management to control habitat alteration, prevention of overhunting outside protected areas, and effective protection in parks and sanctuaries, will be required to maintain viable populations in the future.

In China, two reserves have been established in Xiaca and Muotuo, and it should occur in the international protected area, the Qomolangma Nature Reserve, on the Sino-Nepal border. Conservation measures proposed for China: l) Undertake censuses to determine population status and distribution, including surveys in the Chun-pi valley.

It is listed in Schedule I of Bhutan’s Forest and Nature Conservation Act, 1995. Himalayan serow is reported in Royal Manas National Park on the southern border with Assam (Jackson 1981). It also lives in the vast Jigme Dorji National Park (Blower, 1989; Wollenhaupt, 1988d), which extends across all of northern Bhutan, and in Black Mountains National Park (Blower, 1989). Conservation measures proposed for Bhutan: Surveys to determine numbers and distribution.

In Nepal, it occurs in the following National Parks: Royal Chitwan, Lake Rara, Langtang, Sagarmatha, Makalu-Barun (and Conservation Area), Khaptad, and Shey-Phoksundo. It is also found within the Annapurna Conservation Area, and in Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. The species probably occurs in Parsa Wildlife Reserve, and possibly also in Royal Bardia National Park, but these need to be confirmed. Conservation measures proposed for Nepal: 1) Conduct censuses and 2) studies of population demographics, to 3) develop specific conservation plans.

The taxonomic validity of this species, and its relationship to other species in the genus Capricornis needs to be assessed.

Citation: Duckworth, J.W. & MacKinnon, J. 2008. Capricornis thar. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 18 September 2014.
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