Capreolus pygargus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Capreolus pygargus
Species Authority: Pallas, 1771
Common Name(s):
English Siberian Roe Deer, Eastern Roe Deer, Siberian Roe
French Chevreuil de Siberie
Spanish Corzo Siberiano
Capreolus bedfordi Thomas, 1908
Capreolus capreolus subspecies ochracea Barclay, 1935
Capreolus melanotis Miller, 1911
Capreolus pygargus variety caucasica Dinnik, 1910
Capreolus pygargus variety ferganicus Rasewig, 1909
Capreolus tianschanicus Saturnin, 1906
Cervus pygargus Pallas, 1771
Taxonomic Notes: Currently three subspecies are recognised: C. pygargus pygargus Pallas, 1771 (main part of the distribution area), C. p. tianschanicus Satunin, 1906 (southern part of the range in China) and C. p. bedfordi Thomas, 1908 (eastern part of the range). This taxon was formerly considered a subspecies of the European roe deer Capreolus capreolus. However, it is now regarded by most Russian authors as a species distinct from C. capreolus (Hewison and Danilkin, 2001; Sokolov et al. 1985; Sokolov and Gromov 1990). It was reviewed by Danilkin (1995).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Gonzalez, T. & Tsytsulina, K.
Reviewer(s): Black, P.A. & Gonzalez, S. (Deer Red List Authority)
Although the species is widespread and remains common in parts of its range (Danilkin 1995, Danilkin et al. 2000, Korytin et al. 2002), it is in decline in many places due to insufficient enforcement of the currently existing laws regarding hunting. However, its rate of decline is not believed to be sufficient to trigger listing in a more threatened category, and so it is retained in Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Siberian roe deer has a very wide distribution in the Palaearctic. It is widely distributed in continental Asia and parts of Eastern Europe (Danilkin 1995), from the Khoper and Don River bend to the Ural Mountains and across southern Siberia. It is found through northern Mongolia (including Navchvandan Mountain in south-eastern parts of Eastern Mongolia, Hangai Mountain Range, Darkhad in Hövsgöl Mountain Range, Hentii Mountain Range, Ikh Hyangan Mountain Range and north-eastern Mongol Altai Mountain Range) west to the coastlines of the sea of Japan, and the Yellow Sea, including the Korean Peninsula (Danilkin 1995). Its geographic range branches out towards the south at the West Siberian Plain down to Lake Balkhash, and from there expanding back to the east well into Kazakhstan without reaching the Aral Sea. Also, it occurs from Manchuria into northern and central China, to the western half of the left margin of the Yang Tze river, into the eastern Tibetan Region (Bannikov, 1954; Sokolov et al., 1982; Dulamtseren et al., 1989). Records from further south as far as northeastern Myanmar require confirmation. It formerly extended as far west and eastern Ukraine, and there is still an isolated population on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. It also occurs on Cheju Island in South Korea. It has been recorded at altitudes from sea-level up to 3,300 m asl.
China (Gansu, Shanxi); Kazakhstan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Mongolia; Russian Federation
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Although it is generally considered to be common, it is in delcine in many places because of over-hunting. Danilkin (1995) estimated the total world population to be "about 1 million" individuals, though this represents a considerable decline, as during the nineteenh century, 500,000 were killed annually in Russia. Nevertheless, in the 1990s, healthy populations appeared to be common in China and Russia (Danilkin 1995, Otaishi and Gao 1990). Sheng and Ohtaishi (1993) estimated the total population living in China at the time in "about 500,000" individuals.

The species has almost certainly declined since then due to hunting (Danilkin 1995). For example, in the Amur region of Russia, the population was estimated to be 134,870 individuals in 1991, but it has been in continuous decline since then due to unauthorized hunting and fires (Toushkin, 2007). The situation could be more even more critical in the Korean Peninsula where trapping, overhunting and the opening of new land to logging operations may be having a negative effect on the species (Won and Smith 1999). In 1985, the population size throughout Mongolia was estimated as between 70,000 and 89,000, though in the same year density estimates of 4-5 individuals over 1,000 ha were made in Khovsgol, with a total population estimate for this region of 250,000 animals (Sukhbat and Shagdarjav, 1990). Over the last 10 years, however, the species has largely disappeared from the Bogd Uul mountain region, with only possible sightings in 2004. In the most recent population estimate conducted was in the Nomrog Special Protected Area, where 298 were found (K. Olson pers. comm.). No data seem to be currently available on the status of this species in Kazakhstan.

Population density in Russia depends on vegetation type. It is most abundant in light oak and cedar forests, and is not found in fir forests. In the Sikhote-Alin State Reserve, population density varies from 0.2 to 1.3 individuals per km² (Myslenkov 1990).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The species inhabits different types of deciduous and mixed forests and forest-steppes, where it tends to exploit areas with an abundance of grass cover on which it grazes (Danilkin 1995). In general terms it is most common in the forest-steppe belt of central Russia (Danilkin et al. 2000, Korytin et al. 2002), where it reaches high population densities of up to 12 individuals per 100 ha in tallgrass meadows and floodplains (Danilkin 1995). It is shy, and most active at night, and often uses salt-licks. In mountains it is found up to 3,300 m asl.

It makes seasonal movements. It is solitary in summer (females stay with their young), but in winter forms mixed groups up to 20-30 individuals. During seasonal movements, group size increases up to 500 individuals. In the province of Amur (Russian Federation), the species migrates every year from winter to summer grounds, for up to 200 km, always following the same routes (Danilkin et al. 1995).

During heat males are territorial. It is polygamous, but does not form harems. Mating occurs from mid-July to mid-September. Young are born in May-June; the females give birth to one or two calves (rarely up to four). Gestation is six to ten months, usually with a lag phase. Maturity is reached by 13 months, and adults live 10-12 years (Danilkin 1995).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is highly regarded as a source of venison, pelts, and game trophies in the Russian Federation and China (Ohtaishi and Gao 1990, Danilkin et al. 2000, Korytin et al. 2002).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Illegal hunting for meat and antlers, largely for local use, has eradicated this species from many areas of Russia. In the past, the implementation of proactive law enforcement and successful re-introduction programmes corrected this (Danilkin 1995). Recent data suggest that poaching is again on the rise in Russia and Kazakhstan, though there is currently only limited information on it effects on the populations of Capreolus pygargus. It is of particular concern in relation to the isolated population in the CIS-Caucasus. Poaching is also known to be a serious problem in China. The status of the species on the Korean Peninsula is also problematic, as deforestation and poaching seem to be depleting numbers in many areas (Won and Smith 1999). Although not presently a threat through much of its Russian range, habitat degradation through grazing by increasing numbers of livestock and human disturbance, associated with resource extraction, could constitute a potential future threat. At a smaller scale, in the Amur Region several populations were lost by the formation of the Zeya and Burey reservoirs.

Severe winter weather and natural predation are liable to have at times a strong impact on the survival or presence of some populations in certain regions (Danilkin 1995, Danilkin et al. 2000), though this is not a major concern for the species overall.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Russia has an extensive network of protected areas in the form of National Natural Parks, Special Purpose Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Nature Monuments and the Siberian roe deer is an abundant species in many of them (Danilkin et al. 2000; Korytin et al. 2002). Trophy and commercial hunting are allowed in some of these areas under a license system; the allocation of harvesting quotas is based on periodic estimates of the population size of each species (Danilkin et al. 2000, Korytin et al. 2002). Under this system 27,300 specimens were legally harvested within the whole Russian territory, during the 1996-7 hunting season (National CBD Reports 2005). However, the amount of illegal hunting beyond this is not known, but could be much larger. More effective management of hunting is needed. The majority of the majority of the isolated Cis-caucasian population inhabits protected areas.

A similar hunting management system exists in China; it has been reported that several thousand roe deer are commercially harvested in Heilongjiang Province every year (Ohtaishi and Gao 1990). Mongolia has a similar network of protected areas compared to Russia, covering 20.6 millions of hectareas, or more than 13% of the Mongolian territory. Roe deer is present in many of them (Ministry for Nature and Environment 1996). In Mongolia, hunting is permitted between September 1st and December 1st (MNE, 2005). Trophy hunters can purchase hunting licenses, from which $550 USD is allocated to the government (MNE, 2005). Enforcement of wildlife protection laws, inside and outside protected areas, is nonetheless deficient.

In South Korea, this species is only abundant in strictly protected areas like Cheju Island (Won and Smith 1999). Roe deer is classed as a game species under the current hunting laws, and licensed hunters are allowed to bag a maximum of three individuals per hunting season. The long term effects that the Wildlife Protection Act (in effect from February 2005) will have on the conservation status of this species needs to be monitored.

In summary, the main conservation measures needed involve:
(1) Effective enforcement of hunting regulations. (2) Maintanance of suitable habitats, especially in riparian areas.

Citation: Gonzalez, T. & Tsytsulina, K. 2008. Capreolus pygargus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 20 December 2014.
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