Axis kuhlii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Cervidae

Scientific Name: Axis kuhlii (Temminck, 1836)
Common Name(s):
English Bawean Deer, Bawean Hog Deer, Kuhl's Hog Deer
French Cerf-cochon de Bawean
Spanish Ciervo de Kuhl, Ciervo Porquerizo de Kuhl
Cervus kuhlii Temminck, 1836
Taxonomic Notes: Bawean Deer has sometimes been included in Hog Deer Axis porcinus (Haltenorth 1963), but is better considered a full species (Groves and Grubb 1987, Grubb 2005). With Hog Deer it was often placed in the genus Cervus (e.g. Chasen 1940, van Bemmel 1944), until Groves and Grubb (1987) strongly argued for placement in Axis. The most recent analyses indicate that these two species, together with calamianensis, constitute a genus distinct from Axis, Hyelaphus (Meijaard and Groves 2004, Pitra et al. 2004). The species name is sometimes mis-spelled kuhli, but the correct original spelling, which must be used today, is kuhlii.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-11-17
Assessor(s): Semiadi, G., Duckworth, J.W. & Timmins, R.
Reviewer(s): Brook, S.M. & McShea, W.J.
Contributor(s): Pudyatmoko, S. & Huffman, B.
This species is listed as Critically Endangered because its population size is estimated to number fewer than 250 mature individuals, with at least 90% confined to one subpopulation, which, although currently stable, is expected to go into continuing decline due to an deterioration in habitat quality through invasion by Chromolaena and regrowth of Tectona grandis.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to Bawean Island (= Pulau Bawean), in the Javan Sea off the northern coast of Java, Indonesia (Lachenmeier and Melisch 1996, Grubb 2005). Two main parts of the island are used, the central mountain range, and Mount Bulu in the south-west (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1978, 1987). Tanjung Cina (= Cina Cape), an area of 950 m x 300 m, which has hilly topography in its centre and no resident human population, lies at the north-west of Bawean Island and is often cut off from the main island by a sea level of 20–150 m; it has been much used by Bawean Deer since at least the 1990s (Semiadi 2004).

Today’s restriction to Bawean is a relict from occurrence on Java, probably into the Holocene (van den Brink 1982), its disappearance from Java perhaps being caused by competition with Javan Rusa Rusa timorensis and Southern Red Muntjac Muntiacus muntjak (Meijaard and Groves 2004).

A specimen in the Institute of Zoology, Beijing, is labelled from Bangka Island, which lies off Sumatra (Indonesia); this is presumably in error (Grubb 2005). The species was supposedly discovered by Salomon Müller in 1836 in Tuban, a small town on the northern coast of Java, where the local governor kept a small herd in his garden, and the native range was discovered only after the name was proposed (Sitwell 1970). The species presumably evolved from a Pleistocene Javan Axis species (perhaps Axis lydekkeri) at a time when Bawean was connected to Java via a land bridge (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1987, Meijaard and Groves 2004). Suggestions that the genus was introduced to Bawean by early European settlers seem unlikely (Sitwell 1970) because of the wealth of fossil material (reviewed in Meijaard and Groves 2004), and were not ever referred to by Grubb (2005).
Countries occurrence:
Indonesia (Jawa)
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Bawean Deer was reported as 'plentiful' during the 19th century. The population increased in the 1950s in response to forest protection, declined during the 1960s–1970s (Grimwood 1976), although no estimates are available, and in the 1980s was thought to number around 300 animals and to be increasing once again (Blouch 1980, Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1987). Through a 1991 survey the deer was suspected to be in decline (Gunawan and Kustanto 1994). In 2006, the wild population was estimated (based on field-work in 1998–2003) to be stable at 250–300 animals (Semiadi 2004, G. Semiadi and S. Pudyatmoko pers. comm. 2006), but there has been no systematic survey; 500 would be an absolute maximum (G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2008). Secondary forest seems to be the ideal habitat, supporting up to 19.2 deer per km2 (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1978). Teak Tectona grandis forests with understorey, primary forest, and areas with teak and lalang support densities of 3.3 to 7.4 deer per km2, while regions dominated by Melastoma polyanthum and Eurya nitida brush, Rombok Merremia peltata, disturbed primary forest, and teak without understorey support only 0.9-2.2 deer per km2 (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1987). The most recent assessment is in Semiadi (2004), who drew attention to the wet-season densities of 11.8 animals per km2 on Tanjung Cina (= Cina Cape). In 2013 ranger patrols suggested the distribution of deer has not changed (Nursyamsi pers. comm. 2014).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:200-500Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Bawean Deer is found in primary and secondary forest, reaching higher densities in the latter (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1978, G. Semiadi and S. Pudyatmoko pers. comm. 2006). The species occurs up to 500 m (G. Semiadi and S. Pudyatmoko pers. comm. 2006), typically in hill forests rather than the marshy grasslands where Hog Deer is most numerous (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1987), despite the close taxonomic relationship of these two species. Bawean Deer uses forests with dense undergrowth for refuge while they rest during the day (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1978). It enters croplands, feeding on corn and cassava leaves, as well as grasses among the crops (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1987, G. Semiadi and Boeadi pers. comm. 2006). The species is found mainly in secondary forest, but enters burned grassy openings during the dry season (Blouch and Sumaryoto 1987). The most recent assessments are in Semiadi (2004).

Bawean Deer primarily grazes on herbs and grasses, but also browses young leaves and twigs (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1987). An individual deer produces 13 faecal pellet groups per day, a number which has been used to estimate population numbers (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1978). The seasonal rut is in September and October, although males may be found in breeding condition (i.e. with hard antlers) throughout the year (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1987, Whitehead 1993). The gestation period is 225–230 days, after which a single fawn is born, very rarely twins (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1987, Whitehead 1993). Most births occur from February to June; they occasionally occur in other months (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1987). In captivity, breeding occurs year round with females maintaining an interbirth interval of 9 months (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1978).

Bawean Deer are primarily nocturnal, active intermittently through the night. They are very wary, and appear to avoid contact with people; where human activity is heavy, the deer spend the day in forests on steep slopes that are inaccessible to teak loggers. Individuals are occasionally seen on the beach in the southwest of the island, but otherwise are rarely seen directly (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1978, 1987). It is typically solitary, although duos made up of a doe and fawn or a buck following a doe sometimes occur (Blouch and Atmosoedirdjo 1978).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: For details on Use and Trade see under Threats.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Bawean Deer has been subject to uncontrolled hunting, probably since human settlement took place some 500 years ago. During the 1960s much forest on Bawean was replaced by teak plantations; coupled with increased hunting pressure, this probably caused the species to decline in numbers. Hunting ceased in 1977, and the population increased during the next few years (Anonymous 1978, Blouch and Sumaryoto 1987, G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2006). The hunting of pigs Sus scrofa with dogs persists, and leads to inadvertent death of deer (G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2006), but at the population level hunting is no longer a threat (G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2008). Presently, fewer than five deer die per year through direct human influence, chiefly in traffic accidents and when being chased by local dogs during pig hunts (G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2008). Maturation of teak (including coppicing from cut stumps) and invasion by the American herb Chromolaena odorata; Compositae (=Eupatorium odoratum) constitute the only significant predictable threat to this deer, through reducing the grazing areas and this carrying capacity (G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2013). Pigs (Sus spp.) may be impacting the re-growth of grass and other foodplants in grazing areas, which could pose a threat to the Bawean Deer population (G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2014) but this is not confirmed. For a population at best on the edge of the oft-quoted, though somewhat arbitrary, minimum figure for a population viable into the long term (500), such a further reduction (on top of the major contraction in available habitat for the species over past centuries) should be seen as a major threat despite recent population stability.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on CITES Appendix I (CITES 2000). It is protected from hunting not just on paper, but effectively in practice (G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2008). It inhabits Bawean Island Nature Reserve (5,000 ha; the island is 200 km² in size), established in 1979 for which a management plan prepared in 1979 (WWF 1979; Blouch and Sumaryoto 1987) warrants revision. Management activities have included termination of hunting, controlled burning of grassy areas within forests, and thinning of teak plantations to encourage understorey development (Blouch and Sumaryoto 1987). Since 2000 a captive breeding programme has been operative on Bawean; in 2006 it involved a founder population of two stags and five hinds, and by 2014 numbered 35 animals (Meijaard et al. 2014). About 300–350 animals are held in zoos and private captive breeding facilities off the island (G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2006).

Recommended conservation actions, which should proceed through appropriate revisions to the management plan, include:

1) Increase the populations and if possible expand the area used by the deer. While the population seems to be stable, its small size and insular nature leave it susceptible to chance events (e.g. weather-related disasters or earthquakes or disease), to any resumption of hunting and probably to inbreeding. Increasing Chromolaena will result in time in population decrease. There is thus a major role for active management of habitat through control of Chromolaena, so as to increase population density within the protected area, and thus total population. This species, a problem plant throughout much of South and South-east Asia, is very difficult to control and review of international successes and failures is needed to inform management of the weed on Bawean. Full security would come only through an increase of the range on the island, requiring some deer-centred management for areas outside the protected area.

2) Assess the impact of deer on crops as this may have become a problem if effective protection has allowed the population to increase substantially, or the invasion of Chromolaena is pushing deer to eat more crops. If so, community-based mediation with local conservation officials may be required to find solutions and mitigate conflict.

3) Initiate a co-ordinated breeding programme to evaluate and if necessary address possible inbreeding deficiencies in the captive population.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.6. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.6. Artificial/Terrestrial - Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.2. Wood & pulp plantations -> 2.2.1. Small-holder plantations
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

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

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Chromolaena odorata ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Anonymous. 1978. Hunting ban helps rare deer. Oryx 14: 311.

Blouch, R. 1980. Kuhl’s Deer, Bawean Island, Indonesia. Tiger Paper 7(1): 22-23.

Blouch, R.A. and Atmosoedirdjo, A. 1978. Preliminary report on the status of the Bawean deer (Axis kuhli). Threatened Deer: Proceedings of a Working Meeting of the Deer Specialist Group of the Survival Service Commission, pp. 49-55. IUCN, Morges, Switzerland.

Blouch, R.A. and Atmosoedirdjo, S. 1987. Biology of the Bawean deer and prospects for its management. In: C.M. Wemmer (ed.), Biology and Management of the Cervidae, pp. 320-327. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Blower, J. 1975. Report on a visit to Pulau Bawean. Nature Conservation and Wildlife Management Project, ISN/73/013.

Chasen, F.N. 1940. A handlist of Malaysian mammals; a systematic list of the mammals of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and Java, including the adjacent small islands. Bulletin of the Raffles Museum, Singapore 15: 1-209.

Grimwood, I. 1976. Hunting a deer to extinction. Oryx 13(3): 294–296.

Groves, C.P. and Grubb, P. 1987. Relationships of Living Deer. In: C.M. Wemmer (ed.), Biology and Management of the Cervidae, pp. 21-59. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Groves, C.P. and Grubb, P. 1987. Relationships of living deer. In: C. Wemmer (ed.), Biology and Management of the Cervidae, pp. 1-40. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., USA.

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

Gunawan, D. and Kustanto, I. 1994. Survey on larger mammals in Bawean Island. Deer Specialist Group News 12: 10-11.

Haltenorth, T. 1963. Klassifikation der Säugetiere: Artiodactyla I. Handbuch der Zoologie 8(32): 1-167.

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

Lachenmeier, K. and Melisch, R. 1996. Der Bawean Hirsch (Axis kuhli): Status und Schutz einer wenig bekannten Hirschart Indonesiens [The Bawean deer (Axis kuhli): status and protection of a little known deer species of Indonesia]. Zoologische Gesellschaft fuer Arten und Populationsschutz E. V. Mitteilungen 12(1): 23-25.

Meijaard, E., Leus, K. and Burton, J. 2014. Think Pig: Results from our first wild pig specialist group meeting for South-east and South Asia. Suiform Soundings, Newsletter of the IUCN SSC Wild Pig, Peccary and Hippo Specialist Groups, Volume 12.

Meijaard, I. and Groves, C.P. 2004. Morphometrical relationships between South-east Asian deer (Cervidae, tribe Cervini): evolutionary and biogeographic implications. Journal of Zoology 263: 179-196.

Pitra, C., Fickel, J., Meijaard, E. and Groves, C.P. 2004. Evolution and phylogeny of old world deer. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 33: 880-895.

Semiadi, G. 2004. Sifat Biologi Rusa Bawean (Axis kuhlii) [Biological aspects of Bawean Deer (Axis kuhlii)]. Puslit Biologi LIPI Press, Bogor.

Semiadi, G. 2008. Sifat Biologi Rusa Bawean (Axis kuhlii) [Biological aspects of Bawean Deer (Axis kuhlii)]. Puslit Biologi LIPI Press, Bogor.

Sitwell, N. 1970. Bawean Island Expedition. Animals 12: 389-393.

Van Bemmel, A.C.V. 1944. The taxonomic poistion of Cervus kuhlii. Müll Et Schl Treubia 1: 149–155.

Van den Brink, L.M. 1982. On the mammal fauna of the Wajak cave, Java (Indonesia). Modern Quaternary Research in Southeast Asia 7: 177–193.

Whitehead, K.G. 1993. The Whitehead Encyclopedia of Deer. Voyageur Press, Inc, Stillwater, MN, USA.

World Wildlife Fund. 1979. Proposed Bawean Island Wildlife Reserve Management Plan. World Wide Fund for Nature, Bogor, Indonesia.

Citation: Semiadi, G., Duckworth, J.W. & Timmins, R. 2015. Axis kuhlii. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T2447A73071875. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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