Cervus albirostris 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Cervidae

Scientific Name: Cervus albirostris Przewalski, 1883
Common Name(s):
English White-lipped Deer, Thorold's Deer
Cervus sellatus Przewalski, 1883
Cervus thoroldi Blanford, 1893
Przewalskium albirostris (Przewalski, 1883)
Taxonomic Notes: This species was formerly classified in a distinct genus as Przewalskium albirostris, however, morphological, behavioural and genetic analyses align this species with the Red Deer clade (Wilson and Mittermeier 2011). No subspecies are recognized.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2c ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-11-17
Assessor(s): Harris, R.B.
Reviewer(s): Brook, S.M. & McShea, W.J.
Listed as Vulnerable because of a population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations (estimated at 21 years), inferred from over-exploitation, shrinkage in distribution, and habitat degradation. However, recent measures to curb poaching might have stabilized the situation, and the species should be reassessed before long. No substantive new information was received to enable a full re-assessment in 2014.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species previously ranged across much of the eastern Tibetan Plateau (Koizumi et al. 1993). The species presently occurs in fragmented populations in northwestern and southwestern Gansu, eastern and central, and southern Qinghai, eastern Tibet, western Sichuan, and northwest Yunnan (Ohtaishi and Gao 1990; Yu et al. 1990; Kaji et al. 1989, 1993; Schaller 1998; Wu and Wang 1999).
Countries occurrence:
China (Gansu, Qinghai, Tibet [or Xizang], Yunnan)
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):3500
Upper elevation limit (metres):5100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is no global population estimate. The species is distributed sporadically at low density, with some 2,000 individuals estimated in Gansu and Qinghai, and 4,000 individuals in Sichuan and the Tibet Autonomous Region (Wu pers. comm. 1990). Wang (1998) estimated a total population of some 7,000 (although Liu and Yin 1993 postulated 5,800 within the Tibetan Autonomous Region only). The species typically lives in high-elevation, remote habitats, and appears to have large, unpredictable ranges. Thus developing a reliable estimate of abundance will be difficult without intensive and rigorous efforts.

During the 1990s and first part of the 21st century, there have been anecdotal reports suggesting that White-lipped Deer populations may be increasing, at least in some portions of their Tibetan Plateau range (e.g., Harris and Loggers 2004).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species inhabits conifer forest, rhododendron and willow scrub and alpine grasslands from 3,500 to 5,100 m asl; is somewhat lower in winter (Koizumi et al. 1993; G. Schwede pers. comm. 1998). Compared with other cervids on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, the White-lipped Deer is most likely to be found in open habitats. The species' diet is comprised mostly of grasses, herbs, lichens, leaves and bark of trees and bushes (Takatsuki et al. 1988, Wu and Wang 1999). In summer in alpine meadows, they may feed extensively on sedges (Harris and Miller 1995). The species occurs in seasonally large herds (up to 200–300), and female families (Miura et al. 1989). Males and females live separately except during the breeding season. In winter, they may range in the vicinity of lakes and rivers when food availability is higher (Jia-Yan Wu pers. comm. 1998). Calving is between late May and early July (Koizumi et al. 1993, Yu et al. 1993) following a rut in October (Sheng and Ohtaishi 1993). Gestation estimated at 246 days (Yu et al. 1993). Age at first reproduction in captivity is two years (hinds) and five years (stags) (Koizumi et al. 1993).
Generation Length (years):7

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is used for food and in traditional Chinese medicine.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is hunted for meat, antlers, and other organs, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine (Koizumi et al. 1993). The species has been heavily depleted, especially due to hunting young individuals for their antlers. Guns have recently been confiscated from most pastoralists living in proximity to White-lipped Deer in China, however, and poaching appears to be on the decline generally (Harris 2007). Throughout its range, competition with livestock is major threat, leading to habitat degradation. Populations have become seriously fragmented as a result of these threats (Koizumi et al. 1993, Ohtaishi and Gao 1990, Harris 2007). The species is extensively farmed for antler production on government farms in China (and in other countries, such as New Zealand).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: White-lipped Deer are listed as a Class I protected species under Chinese law and listed as Endangered on the 2015 China Red List. Government deer farms were established during the 1970s and 1980s to supply the market and prevent poaching. Many had closed by the end of the 1980s due to overproduction by farms in New Zealand and elsewhere (prices in China dropped due to imports). For internationally held stock in zoos see the ISIS database ( White-lipped Deer occur in a few large nature reserves in western China, such as Yanchiwan (and possibly Qilian Shan) in Gansu, and Sanjiangyuan in Qinghai. However, habitat protection is not guaranteed by legal protection as a nature reserve (Harris 2007).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.3. Sub-national 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
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ 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: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

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

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 : ✓ 

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

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

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

Harris, R.B. and Loggers, C.O. 2004. Status of Tibetan plateau mammals in Yeniugou, China. Wildlife Biology 10(2): 91-99.

Harris, R.B. and Miller, D.J. 1995. Overlap in summer habitats and diets of Tibetan plateau ungulates. Mammalia 59: 197-212.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. Available at: (Accessed: 23 June 2015).

Kaji, K., Ohtaishi, N., Miura, S. and Wu, J. 1989. Distribution and status of white-lipped deer (Cervus albirostris) in the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau, China. Mammal Review 19: 35-44.

Kaji, K., Ohtaishi, N., Miura, S., Koizumi, T. Tokida, K. and Wu, J. 1993. Distribution and status of white-lipped deer and associated ungulate fauna in the Tibetan Plateau. Elsevier, Oxford, UK.

Koizumi, T., Ohtaishi, N., Kaji, K., Yu, Y. and Tokida, K. 1993. Conservation of white-lipped deer in China. In: N. Ohtaishi and H.I. Sheng (eds), Deer of China: Biology and Management. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Deer of China, pp. 309–318. Elsevier, Oxford, UK.

Liu, W.L. and Yin, B.G. 1993. Precious wildlife of Tibet and its protection. China Forestry Press, Beijing, China.

Miura, S., Kaji, K., Ohtaishi, N., Koizumi, T., Tokida, K. and Wu, J.Y. 1993. Social organization and mating behavior of white-lipped deer in the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, China. In: N. Ohtaishi and H. I. Sheng (eds), Deer of China: Biology and Management., pp. 220–234. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Deer of China, Elsevier, Oxford, UK.

Miura, S., Ohtaishi, N., Kaji, K., Wu J.Y. and Zheng, S.W. 1989. A herd of threatened deer, white-lipped deer Cervus albirostris, around Gyaring Lake, Qinghai Province, China, with reference to conservation. Biological Conservation 47: 237–244.

Ohtaishi, N. and Gao, Y.T. 1990. A review of the distribution of all species of deer (Tragulidae, Moschidae and Cervidae) in China. Mammal Review 20(2-3): 125-144.

Schaller, G.B. 1998. Wildlife of the Tibetan Steppe. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.

Sheng, H.I. and Ohtaishi, N. 1993. The status of deer in China. In: N. Ohtaishi and H.I. Sheng (eds), Deer of China: Biology and Management, pp. 8. Elsevier, Oxford, UK.

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

Takatsuki, S., Ohtaishi, N., Kaji, K., Han, Y.P. and Wu, J.P. 1988. A note on faecal and rumen contents of white-lipped deer in eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Journal of the Mammalogical Society of Japan 13: 133-137.

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

Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A. 2011. Handbook of the mammals of the world. Vol. 2. Hoofed mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Wu, J.Y and Wang, W. 1999. The white-lipped deer of China. China Forestry Publishing House, Beijing, China.

Yu, Y., He, Y.B. and Zuo, Q.Y. 1990. Distribution of white-lipped deer in the Qilian Mountains. Chinese Wildlife 56: 16-17.

Yu, Y., Miura, S., Pen, J. and Ohtaishi, N. 1993. Parturition and neonatal behavior of white-lipped deer. In: N. Ohtaishi and H. I. Sheng (eds), Deer of China: Biology and Management. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Deer of China, pp. 235–241. Elsevier, Oxford, UK.

Citation: Harris, R.B. 2015. Cervus albirostris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T4256A61976756. . Downloaded on 25 April 2018.
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