Cervus hanglu 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Cervidae

Scientific Name: Cervus hanglu Wagner, 1844
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Tarim Red Deer, Bactrian Deer, Bactrian Red Deer, Bukhara Red Deer, Central Asian Red Deer, Hangul, Kashmir Deer , Kashmir Red Deer, Kashmir Stag
French Cerf de Bactriane, Cerf de Bactriane , Cerf du Turkestan, Cerf Élaphe Du Cachemire , Cerf rouge du Turkestan, Cerf Rouge Du Turkestan
Spanish Ciervo Asiático, Ciervo Bactriano, Ciervo De Cachemira
Cervus elaphus ssp. hanglu Wagner, 1844
Taxonomic Notes: For many years the Red Deer complex, including European and North African Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), Tarim Red Deer and Eastern Asian and North American Wapiti (C. canadensis) were considered as one species. Several genetic studies have recently tried to clarify the taxonomy of this species complex, but their results are not always concordant.

Although Grubb (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) included canadensis in C. elaphus, sharing this conclusion with most taxonomists of 20th century, all original scientific papers published since 1995 have concluded that C. elaphus and C. canadensis are two valid species regardless of whether this conclusion was based on comparison of molecular (Kuwuyama and Ozawa 1999, Randi et al. 2001, Ludt et al. 2004, Pitra et al. 2004, Zhang and Zhang 2012, Liu et al. 2013, Lorenzini and Garofolo 2015), or ethological data (Cap et al. 2008, Frey and Riede 2013, Pereladova 2013). Based on morphological data this was suggested earlier by several authors, e.g. Lydekker (1898), Flerov (1952) and Geist (1998) and both recent reviews on cervid taxonomy are in line with this opinion (Groves and Grubb 2011, Mattioli 2011).

Recent analysis of the Cervus group (Lorenzini and Garofolo 2015, Mukesh et al. 2015, Kumar et al. 2016) have provided the first indications of another, fourth species (including Cervus nippon sensu latu). Mitochondrial complete cytochrome b and control region sequences were analysed under a Bayesian coalescent framework to derive phylogeny, with particular attention on populations from Central Asia. The resultant phylogenetic reconstruction suggested that, after excision of C. canadensis, red deer are differentiated  into two robust monophyletic clades corresponding to the western and eastern part of the range. At the species level, molecular data suggested this fourth species should be recognized as the Tarim Red Deer from Central Asia, including the populations from the Yarkand-Tarim and Bukhara regions and Indian Kashmir, which were formerly considered as subspecies of C. elaphus (C. e yarkandensis, C .e. bactrianus and C. e. hanglu, respectively).

Lorenzini and Garofolo (2015) suggest this taxon should be recognized as the Tarim Red Deer Cervus hanglu Wagner, 1844, as the name with priority over C. yarkandensis or C. bactrianus. This group forms a part of the western clade and appears to have diverged from C. elaphus during the middle Pleistocene, at a similar time as C. nippon diverged from C. canadensis. The genetic distinctiveness of the Tarim Red Deer group is supported by previous mitochondrial studies (Ludt et al. 2004, Pitra et al. 2004, Mukesh et al. 2015). Further investigations need to be conducted from additional molecular sources and nuclear coding genes as well as verification of morphology from museum specimens, before the elevation of the Tarim Red Deer to species level can be confirmed (Lorenzini and Garofalo 2015). Cervus hanglu was elevated to species level for the purpose of the IUCN Red List assessment in 2016. However, it should be noted that future clarification on genetic relatedness, especially studies with nuclear markers and a more formal morphological description, may lead to further revisions to the taxonomuy of this provisional species, as more information becomes available.

C. h. bactrianus and C. h. yarkandensis were not supported as distinct subspecies by molecular data (Lorenzini and Garofolo 2015). However, we refer to them throughout this account for ease of recognition
C. h. hanglu Wagner 1844 (N India (Kashmir))
C. h. bactrianus (W Turkestan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and N Afghanistan)
C. h. yarkandensis (E Turkestan (S Xinjiang, China))

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-02-01
Assessor(s): Brook, S.M., Donnithorne-Tait, D., Lorenzini, R., Lovari, S., Masseti, M., Pereladova, O., Ahmad, K. & Thakur, M.
Reviewer(s): McShea, W.J. & Duckworth, J.W.
Contributor(s): Ferrero, J., Sharma, L.K. & Bacha, M.S.
The Tarim Red Deer is regarded provisionally here as a separate species from Cervus elaphus and C. canadensis (see the Taxonomic Notes section). The total population size is estimated at approximately 2,500 individuals, although no recent estimates have been obtained for the populations in China. Although the population in China is small and probably declining, this is offset by the increasing trend of the species in Central Asia, which represents the majority of the species’ population (approximately 75%). Numbers in India are very small, and thus are numerically not significant for determining species-level population trends. Its extent of occurence (EOO) is >1,000,000 km² and although its area of occupancy (AOO) is not known, it is not likely to approach the threshold of <2,000 km² to qualify for Vulnerable or Near Threatened. To the best of our knowledge there is no continuing decline or extreme fluctuations in the EOO, AOO, area, extent and/or quality of habitat, number of locations or subpopulations or the number of mature individuals. This species is therefore listed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:In Central Asia the Bukhara Deer or Bactrian Deer (Cervus hanglu bactrianus) inhabits Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and north Afghanistan. Historically it inhabited all of the river valleys of Amudaria and Syrdaria, as well as the Murgab and Tedjen to the west, Zarafshan and Ily to the east, but its range was much reduced in the 1960s. Conservation activities in the aforementioned countries have restored the deer to a number of areas (Pereladova 2013). It now occurs in the Badai-Tugai State Nature Reserve and the Kyzylkum State Nature Reserve in Uzbekistan, where the highest numbers remain. Most of these populations are shared with Turkmenistan. The population in Veravshan State Nature Reserve (Uzbekistan), which was reintroduced in the 2000s, is shared with Tajikistan. In Tajikistan the main population, which is recovering, is in the Tigrovaya Balka State Nature reserve and Farkhor and Khamadoni Districts. The species was extirpated from Kazakhstan in the 1960s and reintroduced to the Karatchingil hunting concession (where it numbers 400-500 animals), the Altyn-Emel National Park and Turkestan (Syrdarya). In Afghanistan it possibly occurs in the wetlands of the Amu Darya in Kunduz Province and in Takhar close to the border with Tajikistan. Reintroduced deer of the Ajar Valley were hunted to extinction (Karlstetter and Mallon 2014).

The Hangul (C. h. hanglu) was once widely distributed in the mountains of Kashmir along the Zanskar Mountain range, from Shalurah and Karen in the Kishenganga catchment to Dorus in the Lolab Valley, the Erin catchments in Bandipora in the north, to Bringi valley and Marwah/Wadwan in Kishtwar High Altitude National Park (NP), the lower Chenab Valley, and Ramnagar in the south (Gee 1966, Holloway andWani 1970). Gamagul Siya-Behi Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh is the only site outside of Jammu and Kashmir that retained an isolated Hangul population (Holloway 1971, Schaller 1969, Kurt 1978) of unknown status for a brief period before it was declared extinct from that region (Schaller 1969, Kurt 1978, Qureshi et al. 2009, Ahmad et al. 2009). At present the only viable population of Hangul is restricted to the Dachigam National Park with a few small populations in the adjoining areas of Shikargah-Overa to the South and Surfrao-Akhal and Wangath-Naranag in Sindh Forest Division to the north (Ahmad et al. 2009, Qureshi et al.2009, Ahmad et al. 2013).

Cervus h. yarkandensis inhabits the valleys of the Tarim, Konqi and Qarqan rivers in Xinjiang, China.
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; China; India; Kazakhstan; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan
Possibly extinct:
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Cervus h. bactrianus known from the basins of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers underwent a rapid decline in the 19th century and disappeared from Syr Darya by 1900. In the mid 1960s the population consisted of 350-500 individuals; special reserves were established for the protection of C. h. bactrianus and populations were restored in parts of its former range. By 1989 there were approximately 900 individuals in 13 groups. However, after the break up of the Soviet Union only 350 individuals remained as a result of poaching. Following restoration activities the population of C. h. bactrianus had increased to 1,900 individuals in total in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan by 2011 (Pereladova 2013) and 2,700 in total in 2015 (O. Pereladova pers. comm). Population numbers in Afghanistan are not known (Karlstetter and Mallon 2014).

Periodic monitoring of Hangul (C. h. hanglu) in Dachigam has been in operation, and population statistics have been maintained since the early 20th Century (D. Donnithorne-Taite pers. comm. 2016). However, uncertainty regarding the accuracy of many of the official population statistics makes determining the population trend and status over time challenging. A drastic decline in the Dachigam Hangul population was reported soon after 1947, when the 3,000-5,000 animals estimated in the early 1900s suddenly dropped to 180 animals in 1965, although there are considerable doubts of the veracity of the earlier population estimates (Gee 1965, Mukesh et al. 2015, M.K. Ranjitsinh pers. comm. 2016). Prior to 1947 Hangul was regarded as “royal game” by the Maharaja and was thus strictly protected. In the 1950s, the total population was estimated at a few hundred animals but this was thought to have been optimistic (Gee, 1965). By 1960, the total population estimate had fallen to 250 individuals and by 1962 to 175-200 animals as estimated by Gee, although official estimates were significantly higher at 360 animals (Gee, 1965). In 1968, Schaller conducted a census of the Hangul population during the rut and estimated a total population size of 180 animals (Kurt 1978). From the early 1970s onwards the official estimates of the Hangul increased up to a peak of 818 individuals in 1988. However, these official estimates were almost certainly inflated (M.K. Ranjitsinh pers. comm. 2016). Disturbances in Kashmir prevented the monitoring of the Hangul population in Dachigam from 1989 to 1991. When monitoring resumed in 1992, the population had reached the lowest level yet recorded at 120–140 individuals, which is believed to be a reliable estimate (M.K. Ranjitsinh pers. comm. 2016).

From 1994 to 2003 the Hangul population in Dachigam was estimated to be between 150 and 195 individuals with numbers remaining fairly stable over that period. Post-2003, official population estimates were again most likely inflated (M.K. Ranjitisnh pers. comm. 2016). Problems with differing survey methods are also apparent. In 2015 the population estimate of 110–130 individuals in Dachigam National Park is thought to be accurate (M.K. Ranjitsinh pers. comm.), and the overall population including the other relic populations in Kashmir was estimated to be fewer than 150–200 individuals (Bacha 2014, Bacha et al. 2015).

Due to the doubts over the veracity of official Hangul population estimates and differing monitoring methods applied over time, it is very difficult to determine the population trend based on these data. However, additional information suggests that the Hangul population is very likely undergoing a continual decline. The current sex ratio of the Hangul population in Dachigam is 1 stag: 11 hinds (M.K. Ranjitsinh pers. comm. 2016), stags are more vulnerable to poaching, particularly during the rut, which is the main threat to the Hangul population (Shah et al. 2011). In 2006 the stag: hind ratio was estimated at 29: 100, and in 2009 it was estimated at 18: 100 (Qureshi et al. 2009) suggesting the situation has worsened quite significantly in recent years and that poaching is taking a considerable toll on the Hangul population. The number of young is also extremely low with a current fawn: hind ratio of 6: 100 (Ahmad et al. 2013), this is significantly lower than in 2009 when the ratio was estimated at 21: 100 (Qureshi et al. 2009). Schaller (1969) reported a stag: hind ratio of 45: 100, above 30: 100 is considered to be a good ratio for Red Deer (Clutton-Brock et al. 1982).  The summer pastures and only extant breeding ground of Hangul are also occupied by shepherds, sheep flocks and their guard dogs (Shah et al. 2011), the latter disturb and depredate the newly born fawns (Qureshiet al. 2009, M.K. Ranjitsinh pers. comm. 2016).

In China, C. h. yarkandensis had a declining population of about 4,000–5,000 in 1991, scattered along the Tarim and Karakax rivers, central Xinjiang Province (Gu Jinghe 1991, Wilson and Mittermeier 2011). The deer is apparently isolated in three populations, in Xaya, Lopnur and Qarqan, and continues to decline, as conservation measures thus far have not been effective. There were an estimated 50 individuals in the Qarqan area and approximately 200 in each of Lopnur and Xaya (Mahmut et al. 2001), more recent population estimates could not be obtained in 2015 for the re-assessment.
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:2000-2500Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Population severely fragmented:Yes
All individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Cervus h. bactrianus and C. h. yarkandensis inhabit riparian forested corridors surrounded by desert environments. Some significant groups of C. h. bactrianus inhabit reed bushes with very limited tree cover. Although the main habitat of C. h. bactrianus is riparian forests, its diet includes grasses, sedges and shrubs, and tree shoots to a minor extent. Its diet is very limited most of the year (e.g. when inhabiting reeds and brush). As opposed to other red deer subspecies, which consume branches preferably of young deciduous trees of up to 15 mm thick, C. h. bactrianus eats only branches of willow, poplar, some other riparian forest species and saxaul in deserts up to 5 mm thick.

Cervus h. hanglu inhabits deciduous woodland, upland moors and open mountainous areas (sometimes above the treeline), natural grasslands, pastures and meadows (Koubek and Zima 1999).It primarily uses mixed oak forests, followed by Morus and riverine habitats during the winter and mixed oak forests and coniferous forests during the summer, where food availability is greatest (Ahmad et al. 2015). In woodland, its diet consists mainly of shrub and tree shoots, but in other habitats it also consumes grasses, sedges and shrubs.

Generally found in mountainous areas, where it spends summers in alpine meadows and winters in valleys. On more level terrain, it seeks wooded hillsides in summer, open grasslands in winter.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is illegally hunted in China. The illegal hunting is one of the main reasons for the species' decline in Central Asia and the primary reason for the species’ decline in India.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In Central Asia C. h. bactrianus has declined due to illegal hunting and loss of habitat; although much of the remaining forest is legally protected, illegal logging, forest loss due to fires and illegal grazing of livestock remain problematic (Karlstetter and Mallon 2014, Pereladova 2013).

Poaching, by both civilian and military personnel, was identified as the main cause of the decline of the Hangul in the past and present (Shah et al. 2011). The Wildlife Department are at present unable to patrol and implement protection activities due to the occupation of Dachigam National Park by insurgents and the armed forces, thus poaching may very likely have increased as a result (M.K. Ranjitsinh pers. comm. 2016). Incursion of nomadic livestock herders and predation of fawns by their guard dogs is reportedly also a significant problem that is not being effectively dealt with and competition for grazing grounds with livestock and the associated risk of disease transmission are also significant threats. The Hangul C. h. hanglu population in the Dachigam landscape also appears to have low genetic variation in comparison to other species (Mukesh et al. 2015) and thus could be susceptible to the effects of inbreeding.

In China C. h. yarkandensis is threatened by agricultural expansion, oil exploration and most significantly, by hunting (Jianfang et al. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: More than 10 years of conservation efforts in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, have halted the decline of C. h. bactrianus and begun to restore populations. Conservation measures implemented to date include anti-poaching, ecological education/prevention of poaching, establishment of systems of ecological corridors with protection from poaching (ensuring safe, seasonal migration), forage fields and seasonal feeding where necessary, regulation of the total number of animals and population sex ratio (to avoid local overpopulation and depletion of resources), establishment of additional protected areas, and reintroduction into suitable habitats ensuring connectivity and possibilities for gene exchange between minor populations (Pereladova 2013).

In India, Dachigam National Park is the stronghold for the Hangul containing the only population larger than a few individuals. Despite some conservation efforts, poaching is clearly the biggest threat to the Hangul. Ensuring that poaching is no longer a threat to the Hangul is the highest priority conservation intervention. Secondly, preventing incursion of nomadic livestock herders will reduce competition with livestock for grazing grounds, reduce the potential for disease transmission and will likely increase the survival rates of fawns by reducing depredation by herding dogs Ahmad et al. (2013). Reported predation by Leopard Panthera pardus and Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus may exacerbate an already fragile situation (Shah et al. 2011, Ahmad et al. 2013), control or translocation of Asiatic Black Bear could help reduce predation on Hangul fawns and increase survival and recruitment (M.K. Ranjitsinh pers. comm 2017).

Cervus elaphus bactrianus is listed on Appendix II of CITES. Since 2002 the Bukhara Deer has been protected under an MoU concerning conservation and restoration of the deer under the auspices of the CMS. Cervus elaphus hanglu is listed on Appendix I of CITES and under Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and JandK Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978. It has also been listed amongst the top 15 species of high conservation priority by the Government of India (Mukesh et al. 2015).

Amended [top]

Amended reason: The name of Mukesh Thakur was accidentally left off the assessment when it was first published, hence this amended version has been created to correct the omission.

Citation: Brook, S.M., Donnithorne-Tait, D., Lorenzini, R., Lovari, S., Masseti, M., Pereladova, O., Ahmad, K. & Thakur, M. 2017. Cervus hanglu (amended version of 2017 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T4261A120733024. . Downloaded on 22 June 2018.
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