Moschus fuscus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Moschidae

Scientific Name: Moschus fuscus
Species Authority: Li, 1981
Common Name(s):
English Black Musk Deer, Dusky Musk Deer
Taxonomic Notes: Moschus saturatus Hodgson, 1839 may be a prior name for this species. Gao (1985) treated fuscus as a subspecies of M. chrysogaster, i.e. M. chrysogaster fuscus. But Groves et al. (1995) considered it as valid species; Su et al. (2001) demonstrated its phylogenetic status as a valid species by analysis of Cytochrome b.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-02-04
Assessor(s): Wang, Y. & Harris, R.
Reviewer(s): Brook, S.M. & McShea, W.J.
This species is listed as Endangered because of a probable serious population decline, suspected to be more than 50% over the last three generations (approximately 21 years), caused by over-exploitation, shrinkage in distribution,  habitat destruction and degradation. Although there are no direct data available regarding recent declining population rates, the above-mentioned rate of decline seems reasonable based on the high levels of harvesting and habitat loss. It should also be noted that it has a relatively restricted range. No new information was received in 2014 to enable full re-assessment of this species.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Endangered (EN)
1996 Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs in China (northwestern Yunnan and southeastern Tibet), northern Myanmar, northeastern India (Arunachal Pradesh), Bhutan and eastern Nepal (Grubb 2005). It is reported at elevations of 2,600-4,200 m asl. Within Yunnan, China, it is distributed in Gongshan, Fugong and Bijiang counties (Wang unpublished data 2008).
Countries occurrence:
Bhutan; China; India; Myanmar; Nepal
Lower elevation limit (metres): 2600
Upper elevation limit (metres): 4200
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Estimating population size or trend for Musk Deer is very difficult, and has rarely been done satisfactorily. Population estimates over large-scale areas are subject to considerable uncertainty (and this is exacerbated by uncertainty over taxonomy). No rigorous population estimates exist within China. According to Wang (1998), this species is very rare, making up less than 10% of Musk Deer found even within Yunnan, with even fewer reported from Tibet. Yang et al. (2003) considered the species quite rare, perhaps on the verge of extinction. This species is very rare within Myanmar (Than Zaw pers. comm.). Musk glands were exported from Myanmar, and there have been many skin samples from Myanmar as well. This species was recorded via camera-trap photos between 2008 and 2010 in Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, Sikkim, India (Sathyakumar et al. 2011). There is also one recent camera trap record from Khakaborazi National Park, Myanmar (Than Zaw pers. comm.).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found near the tree line in Rhododendron and coniferous forests, forest-edge and rocky ridges at high elevations (2,600-4,200 m asl). This is a poorly-known form; all life-history attributes are likely similar to those of the Alpine Musk Deer (M. chrysogaster).
Systems: Terrestrial
Generation Length (years): 7

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The musk produced by this genus of primitive deer is highly valued for its cosmetic and alleged pharmaceutical properties, and can fetch U.S.$45,000 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) on the international market.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The musk produced by this genus of primitive deer is highly valued for its cosmetic and alleged pharmaceutical properties, and can fetch U.S.$45,000 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) on the international market. Although this musk, produced in a gland of the males, can be extracted from live animals, most "musk-gatherers" kill the animals to remove the entire sac, which yields only about 25 grams (1/40 of a kilogram) of the brown waxy substance. Such poaching is relatively easy to accomplish and difficult to stop using only legal means (Harris 2007). There is hunting and illegal trade for musk glands from Myanmar to China (Than Zaw pers. comm.). The threat from trade is increasing (Than Zaw pers. comm.).

Musk Deer appear to require dense vegetation, either in the form of intact forests or shrublands; thus excessive forest clearing or grazing can preclude Musk Deer from using such lands (Yang et al. 2003).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on CITES Appendix II in China, and on Appendix I in the other countries within its range. It is on the China Red List as Critically Endangered (A1acd+B1ab(i,ii,iii)), and the China Key List as category II. This species has become nominally protected in Myanmar with the creation Khakaborazi National Park, but enforcement of hunting has a long way to go (Than Zaw and J.W. Duckworth pers. comm.).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.7. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing: Past, Likely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Gao, Y.T. 1985. Classification and distribution of the Musk Deer (Moschus) in China. In: Kawamichi (ed.), Contemporary Mammalogy in China and Japan, pp. 113-116. Mammalogical Society of Japan.

Groves, C.P. 1989. Bovidae. In: D.W. Walton and B.J. Richardson (eds), Fauna of Australia, pp. 1061-1066. Australian Government Publishing Service., Canberra, Australia.

Groves, C.P., Yingxiang, W. and Grubb, P. 1995. Taxonomy of Musk-Deer, Genus Moschus (Moschidae, Mammalia). Acta Theriologica Sinica 15(3): 181-197.

Grubb, P. 2005. Artiodactyla. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), pp. 637-722. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA.

Harris, R.B. 2007. Wildlife Conservation in China: Preserving the Habitat of China’s Wild West. M. E. Sharpe, Inc., Armonk, New York, USA.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Sathyakumar, S., Bashir, T., Bhattacharya, T. and Poudyal, K. 2011. Assessing mammal distribution and abundance in intricate eastern Himalayan habitats of Khangchendzonga, Sikkim India. Mammalia 75: 257-268.

Su, B., Wang, Y.X., Lan, H., Wang W. and Zhang, Y.P. 2001. Phylogenetic study of complete cytochrome b genes in Musk deer (Genus Moschus) using museum samples. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 12(3): 241-249.

Wang, Y.X. 1998. Moschus fuscus. In: W. Song (ed.), China red data book of endangered animals, Mammalia, pp. 244-245. Science press, Beijing, China.

Yang, Q.S., Meng, X.X., Xia, L. and Lin Feng, Z.J. 2003. Conservation status and causes of decline of musk deer (Moschus spp.) in China. Biological Conservation 109: 333-342.

Citation: Wang, Y. & Harris, R. 2015. Moschus fuscus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T13896A61977357. . Downloaded on 28 November 2015.
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