Capricornis milneedwardsii 

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Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Capricornis milneedwardsii
Species Authority: David, 1869
Common Name(s):
English Chinese Serow, Southwest China Serow
Capricornis sumatraensis David, 1869 ssp. milneedwardsii
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).

This species may or may not be sympatric with Capricornis rubidus in Myanmar (Than Zaw and W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2006).

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., Steinmetz, R. & Pattanavibool, A.
Reviewer(s): Harris, R. & Festa-Bianchet, M. (Caprinae Red List Authority)
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 medicine, making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion A2d.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in much of Myanmar, Cambodia, south and central China (Himalayas and east Tibet, south Gansu to Zhejiang and south to Yunnan), Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam (Grubb, 2005). Originally widely distributed throughout Thailand, the species is now restricted to steep, forested limestone hills and cliffs, in areas relatively inaccessible to human encroachment and the range is highly fragmented (Kamchanasaka, in press, Department of National Park and Wildlife). The Thai range map accompanying this account is only indicative of the extent of occurrence and not occupancy of range. Lekagul and McNeely (1988) stated that even when the surrounding areas were completely taken over by cultivation, these steep hills remain covered with dense vegetation. Such areas act as miniature sanctuaries for the serow. In 1977, these authors also reported serow in the north and northeast Thailand, but Nakasathien (1986) suggested a much more conservative distribution. The dividing line between the ranges of C. milneedwardsii and C. sumatraensis is unclear, but is suspected to fall somewhere in the Chooporn or Suratchathani Provinces on the Thai peninsula. In Thailand the species is primarily confined to the mountainous areas of the north and west, with isolated populations, in hill areas in the east and southeast. The historic distribution of serow in Lao PDR almost certainly included the vast majority of the countries land area, the majority of which is hilly to mountainous (e.g. Deuve, 1972; Lekagul and McNeely, 1988; R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Currently in Lao PDR the species is still widespread due to extensive tracts of habitat, often over rugged terrain, especially along the Annamite mountain range of eastern central and southern Lao PDR (W. Duckworth and R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2006; R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Cambodia the species is probably naturally restricted to the hill and mountainous terrain that surround the Mekong and Tonle Sap (lake) central plains, although confirmation of presence comes from relatively few areas, primarily as a result of survey bias (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008).

In Viet Nam the species was at least historically likely to have been widespread, except perhaps for the far southern Mekong Delta region, although this is not well documented, probably due to a historical bias towards surveys in the north (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Populations in the northern highlands are likely to be heavily depleted in number and fragmented, but are likely somewhat more numerous and contiguous along the Annamite (Truong Son) mountains of central and southern Viet Nam. Confirmed records, especially well documented ones, from the southern portions of this range are very few (Gia Lai and Kontum Provinces (Do Tuoc, 1990), Lam Dong Province (Pham Mong Giao, 1990) but this is likely primarily a reflection of the paucity of fieldwork, rather than the actual status of serow. The species has also been recorded from offshore islands of the north, e.g. Cat Ba (Ha Dinh Due et al., 1989; Le Hien Hao, 1973).

The general distribution in Myanmar appears to follow the forested mountain ranges surrounding the central plains. Its distribution in the northwest is believed to stretch through the Chin Hills from the border with India, probably as far south as 20ºN in the Arakan Yoma range. A larger distribution area occurs in the mountains in the north (Kachin state) and in the mountains east of about 96ºW, to Myanmar’s borders with China, Lao PDR and Thailand.

C. milneedwardsii (as constituted here) is widely distributed through much of central and south-eastern China. The general distribution range may be taken to include all the area of the Southwest China Region from southern Gansu southward through Sichuan and most of Yunnan, and beyond into Myanmar. But the species is replaced in parts of northern Myanmar by Capricornis rubidus (Smith and Xie 2008), and probably by C. thar in parts of western Myanmar.

Records show a more or less continuous distribution along the ranges of the Hungduan mountain system. East of this region, populations occur in adjacent mountain areas of Qinling (Southern Slope), Shaanxi and Guizhou (Zhen, 1982). A few populations exist in the north-western Hengduan Mountains of Yushu and Nangqen (Qinghai) (Li et al., 1989). The species has a comparatively widespread distribution through western and southern Zhejiang, northern Fujian, most of Jiangxi (Shen et al., 1982), eastern Guizhou (Luo et al., 1985), northern Guangdong, eastern and south-western Guangxi, eastern and southern Yunnan, where it inhabits low mountains and foothills. It may also occur in south-western Sichuan, as indicated by specimens from the adjacent mountains of Jijiang.
Countries occurrence:
Cambodia; China; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Thailand; Viet Nam
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):4500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No total estimates of numbers have been made. Populations in southeast China south of the Yangtze river) are small and isolated, and its general distribution range falls within regions with relatively dense human populations which are well-exploited economic areas. Although no population estimates have been made in this area, numbers are believed to be decreasing and its distribution range is gradually being reduced. In Lao PDR, this species is still widespread, and despite heavy hunting, it is consistently present in areas of suitable habitat (W. Duckworth and R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2006; R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Little is known about the species in Cambodia, although it is likely widespread in suitable terrain, which is extensive, particularly in the Cardamom range of the southwest (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Numbers in Viet Nam are probably low, although as in Lao PDR the species appears to persist remarkably well in rugged terrain and where suitable habitat remains extensive (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Accounts from throughout the species range report the species inhabits rugged steep hills and rocky places, especially limestone regions up to 4,500 m asl (e.g. Duckworth et al. 1999; Lekagul and McNeely 1988, Smith and Xie 2008). However, the species is also routinely recorded (by camera-trapping) in hill and mountain forest areas with gentler terrain (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008), and does occur in flatter areas marginally (Will Duckworth pers. comm. 2006). The species occurs on small offshore islands and has been reported swimming between them (Duckworth and Walston 1998) and in Cambodia appears to occupy small very naturally isolated karst limestone outcrops in the level lowlands of the Mekong plains (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008).

Feeds on a wide range of leaves and shoots, and visits saltlicks. It is mostly nocturnal and solitary.

It is likely to tolerate moderately degraded habitat well, due to its presence in natural karst scrubland, though it is unlikely to be present in heavily disturbed areas such as agricultural land (W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2006), and has been documented amidst secondary forests and swidden in at least one landscape mosaics of such habitats and ‘primary’ forest (W. G. Robichaud in litt. to R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). The species also appears to persist well in small habitat isolates, both naturally (i.e. Cambodia; R. J. Timmins pers. comm.. 2008) and due to habitat loss (i.e. Thailand; Lekagul and McNeely 1988). In parts of China it winters in the forest belt, ascending into alpine cliffs in summer (Yao, 1990). Elsewhere little is known of the species seasonal ecology.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The meat, fur and various parts of this serow are highly prized by local people for food and medicinal purposes, so it is heavily hunted especially in the northern parts of its range. Habitat loss primarily from agricultural expansion, but also piecemeal clearance for firewood and timber is also a serious long-term threat in some areas. It is threatened at least locally because habitat is rapidly being lost to deforestation and land clearing. In 1962, a die-off caused by an unknown epizootic was reported in the Tangjiahe area (Qingchuan County, Sichuan).

The main threats to serow in Cambodia are posed by hunting, and to a lesser degree habitat loss, but the species is relatively safe in this country compared to other range states. In Lao PDR, serow horns, frontal bones, leg bones and other body parts are used in local, traditional medicine and are readily available in shops in Vientiane and elsewhere. The meat is also eaten in rural areas; however, the extent to which hunting affects the population status of this species in Lao PDR is unknown. In Viet Nam, serow is frequently hunted for meat and for sale as live individuals in many local markets, while its bones and other body parts are valued for medicinal purposes (TRAFFIC, 1993). The inaccessibility of much of the species preferred habitats is likely to be the serow’s main defence against eradication in most sites where it still occurs.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is on Appendix I of CITES, and in Class II in China’s list of protected species. This serow exists in many protected areas including: Sichuan-Baihe, Fentongzhai, Jiuzhaiguo, Labahe, Mabian Dafengdin, Meigu Dafengdin, Tangjiahe, Tiebu, Wanglag, Wolong and Xiaozhaiziguo; Shaanxi-Tabaishan, Fuping (Wu et al., 1986) and Takin Reserve; Gansu - Baishuijiang and Tou’ersantan; Yunnan - Fenshuilin, Gaoligongshan, Tongbiguan, Xishuanbangnan and Yulonghabaxueshan (Lijiang and Zhongdian); Fujian - Daiyunshan and Wuyishan; Zhejiang - Fengyangshan and Jiulongshan; Jiangxi - Jiulianshan and Wuyishan; Guangxi – Congzuo Xiling, Huaping, Qianjiadong, Shouchen and Yindinshan; Gu&hou - Fenginshan; Guangdung - Chebaling. Conservation measures proposed for China: 1) Reclassify serow as Class I in the national wildlife protection list. 2) Ban hunting and 3) the State Commercial System should be prohibited from purchasing products of this animal. 4) Conduct basic population surveys to determine distributions and numbers for development of conservation actions. 5) Undertake studies of ecology, population and management problems of this serow as part of the conservation management program for the giant panda.

It also occurs in many protected areas through the remainder of its range. Generally, has not been targeted for protection from hunting (or other conservation actions), as other species are much more threatened (W. Duckworth, pers comm. 2006). Legislation has successfully reduced hunting in Thailand (Anak Pattanavibool, pers comm. 2006). It is protected in Myanmar (Than Zaw pers. comm.., 2006).

Currently, Cambodian legislation (State Council No. 35 KR.C, Law Decree on Forestry) governs the use and management of forests and wildlife, and stipulates penalties for contravention. However, this legislation is only interim and is generally unenforceable. It is also only very general in scope and does not specifically include serow. Protection of serow lies within the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, and more specifically with the newly-created Wildlife Protection Office. Serow was known to occur only in Phnom Kravanh protected area, but this is located in a region which saw military conflict between 1980 and 1982, and possibly more recently. Conservation measures proposed for Cambodia: 1) Determine the serow’s distribution and status in Mondulkiri Province. The Forestry Department planned to begin these censuses as soon as it became safe and feasible. International support will be required to fund both the census studies and the development of the subsequent conservation plans. 2) The Cambodian Government should create a broad conservation strategy, including a network of protected areas and supporting infrastructure to protect all the country’s natural resources. The species likely occurs widely in the Cardamom range of the southwest, which is now well covered by national protected areas, and conservation management in several of these areas is already ongoing and starting to effectively control hunting (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). The species also likely occurs in several other areas of the country covered by protected areas, namely Rattanakiri province in Virachey NP and Mondulkiri Province (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Given Cambodia’s exceptional concentration of highly threatened species, conservation of serow should not be considered a high priority nationally, and with effective conservation management of suitable protected areas, the species should be safe without the need for species specific conservation activities (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008).

Serow is included in Appendix II of the Endangered and Rare Species List of Viet Nam. However, it is not included in the list of 38 species covered by Declaration No. 276 of the Ministry of Forestry (2 June 1989) and Decision No. 18 HDBT of the Council of Ministers (17 January 1992) so serow can be hunted or captured. The species has been recorded from many protected areas and likely occurs in many others with extensive tracts of suitable habitat, the most significant populations remaining are likely to be found in the extensive tracts of habitat covered by protected areas in the Annamite (Truong Son) mountain chain, especially the extensive limestone formations of the central region and limestone formations in the north (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Effective management of suitable protected areas, especially controlling hunting, should be sufficient to conserve the species nationally, however, the majority of areas are still fall well below this level of management, although there is cause for optimism within a few (R. Timmins pers. comm. 2008).

In Myanmar, serow occur in Kahilu (an area of armed civil unrest, which suffers from poaching) and Kelatha Hill Game
Sanctuaries, and in Shwesettaw and Shwe-U-Daung Wildlife Sanctuaries. It also probably occurs in Tamanthi, Pidaung, and Mulayit Wildlife Sanctuaries. Serow is also reported in a number of proposed National Parks: Alaungdaw Kathapa, Kyaukpandaung, Natma Taung and Pegu Yomas. Serow was eliminated from Taunggyi Wildlife Sanctuary, probably as the resultof poaching and hunting by domestic dogs (IUCN, 1992b; WCMC, 1987). Conservation measures proposed for Myanmar: 1) Carry out surveys and censuses to develop conservation programs. 2) Immediate enforcement of protection against poaching, especially in protected areas.

Serow is also protected in Thailand. It is known or expected to occur in the following protected areas: National Parks – Chaloem Rattankosin (Than Than Lot); Doi Inthanon; Doi Khuntan; Erawan; Khao Chamao-Khao Wong; Khao Luang; Khao Pu-Khao Ya; Khao Sam Lam; Khao Sam Roi Yot; Khao Yai; Nam Nao; Namtok Phliu (Khao Sabup); Phu Kradung; Rhamkhamhaeng; Si Nakarin; Si Satchanalai; Thaleban and possibly Ao Phangnga. WiZdZifi Sanctuaries – Doi Chiang Dao; Doi Pha Muang; Huai Kha Khaeng; Khao Banthat; Om-Koi/Mae Tun; Maenam Phachi; Phu Khieo; Phu Luang; Phu Miang-Phu Thong; Salawin; Thung Yai Naresuan; Tong Nga Chang. Conservation measures proposed for Thailand: Determine the serow’s status to assess the effects that logging and poaching are having on its distribution and numbers.

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

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
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
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
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
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.3. Sub-national level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

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

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 -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Medicine - human & veterinary
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Dang Huy Huynh (ed.). 1986. Sinh hoc va sinh thai hoc cat loai thu mong guoc o Vietnam [Biology and ecology of hoofed mammals of Vietnam]. Scientific and Technical Publishing, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Dao, V.T. 1985. Scientific results of some mammals surveys in North Vietnam (1957 - 1971). Scientific and Technical Publishing House, Ha Noi, Vietnam.

Deuve, J. 1972. Les mammiferes du Laos. Ministry of Education, Laos.

Duckworth, J. W., Timmins, R. J., Khounboline, K., Salter, R. E. and Davidson, P. 1999. Large mammals. In: J. W. Duckworth, R. E. Salter and K. Khounboline (eds), Wildlife in Lao PDR: 1999 Status Report, pp. 161-220. IUCN-The World Conservation Union / Wildlife Conservation Society / Centre for Protected Areas and Watershed Management., Vientiane, Laos.

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.

Le Hien Hao. 1973. Economic Mammals of Northern Vietnam. Scientific and Technical House Press, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Lekagul, B. and McNeely, J.A. 1977. Mammals of Thailand. Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok, Thailand.

Li Dehao, Wang Zuxiang, Wu Yunfei, Zheng Changlin, Huang Yongzhao, Cai Giuquan, Liao Yanfa, Wang Xueyi and Gu Jutin. 1989. Qinghai’s economic fauna. Qinghai People’s Press, Xining, China.

Luo Rong, Luo Yong and Gu Yonghe. 1985. Rare mammals in Guizhou Province. Chinese Wildlife 3: 37-39.

Nakasathien, S. 1986. The serow of Thailand.

Pham Mong Giao. 1990. Khan cap xay dung khu bao ton Te giac tai hai huyen Cat Tien va Bao Lot tinh Lam Dong [High priority for the establishment of the Javan rhino in Cat Tien and Bao Lot Districts, Lam Dong Province] June 1990. Forestry and Environment Workshop: 11. Ministry of Forestry, Hanoi.

Shackleton, D.M. 1997. Wild Sheep and Goats and Their Relatives: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Caprinae. IUCN/SSC Caprinae Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Smith, A.T. and Xie, Y. 2008. A Guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

TRAFFIC. 1993. Guidance on the accession of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to CITES. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Special report: 15 pp.

Wang, S. 1998. China Red Data Book of Endangered Animals: Mammalia. Science Press, Beijing, China.

Wang, Y.X. 2003. A Complete Checklist of Mammal Species and Subspecies in China (A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference). China Forestry Publishing House, Beijing, China.

Wu Jiayan. 1986. A study on the classification and distribution of Chinese takin. Zoological Research 7(2): 167-175.

Yao Lianchu. 1990. Preliminary report on rare animal in north Tibet Plateau. Chinese Wildlife 20(5): 3-6.

Zhen Yonglie. 1982. Species and number distribution of protected animals in Shaanxi Province. Chinese Wildlife 12(3): 26-28.

Citation: Duckworth, J.W., Steinmetz, R. & Pattanavibool, A. 2008. Capricornis milneedwardsii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T3814A10101852. . Downloaded on 23 January 2017.
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