Budorcas taxicolor

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BOVIDAE

Scientific Name: Budorcas taxicolor
Species Authority: Hodgson, 1850
Common Name(s):
English Takin
Taxonomic Notes: Neas and Hoffmann (1987) recognized four subspecies: B. t. bedfordi, B. t. taxicolor, B. t. tibetana, and B. t. whitei. This taxonomy seems to be accepted by both western (Grubb 2005) and Chinese scientists (Wang et al. 1997, Zheng et al. 2003). In a recent analysis of the mtDNA control region, Li et al. (2003) identified three clades that corresponded generally with the three Chinese subspecies sampled.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Song, Y.-L., Smith, A.T. & MacKinnon, J.
Reviewer(s): Harris, R. & Festa-Bianchet, M. (Caprinae Red List Authority)
Justification:
The species is listed as Vulnerable A2cd based on a probable decline of at least 30% over the last three generations (estimated at 24 years) due to over-hunting and habitat loss.
History:
1996 Vulnerable (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in Bhutan, China (southeastern Gansu, Sichuan, Shaanxi, southeast Tibet, and northwestern Yunnan), and northeast India (Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim; Singh 2002) and northern Myanmar (Salter 1997).

Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi
This golden takin is confined to the Qinling mountains in southern Shaanxi, China where distribution records of its occurrence have been collected throughout mountain ranges between elevations of 1,500 to 3,600 m. The area covers 17 counties of Shaanxi Province, west from Mount Ziboshan in Liuba County, as far east as Niubeiliang in Zashui County (Ge 1990; Schaller et al. 1986; Wu et al. 1991). The current distribution region covers 18 counties of Shaanxi province: Foping, Yangxian, Ningqiang, Liuba, Mianxian, Chenggu, Ningshan, Shiquan, Fengxian, Zashui, Zhen’an, Danfeng, Taibai, Meixian, Zhouzhi, Liantian, Chang’an, and Huxian (Forestry Bureau of Shaanxi Province 2001).

Budorcas taxicolor taxicolor
The Mishmi takin is found in the southeast of Tibet and northwestern Yunnan, but its distribution in China is split into two sections by the extreme northeast tip of India and northern Myanmar. In Tibet, the western boundary is formed by the great bend of the Yarlung Zangbo (Tsangpo) river, where it occurs south of Medog on the mountain slopes on the border with Arunachal Pradesh (India). It enters China again southeast of here in northern Yunnan, where it inhabits the Gaoligongshan range which lies between the west side of the Salween (Nu) river and the Sino-Myanmar border. This eastern section of its distribution extends from around Gongshan in the north, south to include Fugong, Lushui, Tengchong, Baoshan and at least as far as Longling (Feng et al. 1986; Wu et al, 1987). In Myanmar, it occupies the high mountain slopes above 2,750 m in Kachin State, northern Myanmar, to the border with China (Blower, 1985, Salter 1997). However, there is no recent distribution data. The geographic boundary between B. t. taxicolor and B. t. whitei is evidently uncertain.

Budorcas taxicolor tibetana
Sichuan takin is found along the eastern margin of the Tibetan plateau. Here, its distribution runs from the Min mountains along the Sichuan-Gansu provincial border, south through the Qionglai mountains west of Chengdu to the border with Yunnan Province. Records of this takin have been found from more than 50 counties in Minshan in the north, Xianling in the west, as well as in the Qionglai Shan in the centre, and the Liang Shan in the south.

Budorcas taxicolor whitei
In Tibet, China, this subspecies is known to occur south of the Yarlung Zangbo river, from Gyaca, Nangxian. Mainling, Myingchi, Cona and Lhunze, on the southern flank of the eastern Himalaya, to the west side of the big bend of the Yarlung Zangbo river. In Bhutan, no censuses have been carried out, but it is believed the species occurs in scattered populations throughout the forested and unforested mountain slopes along Bhutan’s northern border. One or two populations are known to occur on both sides of the upper catchment of the Mo Chu (Wollenhaupt, 1990). Within Bhutan, Jigme Dorji National Park is the main stronghold, but they are also found in northern Wangdue and Bumthang districts (Tshewang Wangchuk pers. comm., 2008); these populations appear to be separated from those in Tibet. Within India, takin is found in Arunachal Pradesh (both along its western border with Bhutan and its northeastern border with China and Myanmar), and in Sikkim. There it inhabits sub-tropical to subalpine forests, mainly between 2,000 and 3,500 m, but sometimes entering as low as 1,500 m, or up to areas above timberline (Fox and Johnsingh 1997, Singh 2002).
Countries:
Native:
Bhutan; China; India; Myanmar
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi
The total population size in China was estimated as 21,200 individuals by Ge (1990), but a later effort by provincial officials in Shaanxi estimated 5,069 (range: 4,418-5,720; Forestry Bureau of Shaanxi Province 2001). Three centers of relatively high population density occur in Taibai, Ningshan and Zhouzhi, where they are restricted to the upper catchments areas of several rivers (Wu et al., 1987). In 1974, a field survey of five areas gave the following numbers of takin: Fuping - 104; Taibai - 191; Yangxian - 225; Zhouzhi - 587; and Ningshan - 135 (Total 1,242) (Wu et al., 1987). A census by counting individuals in Foping Nature Reserve from April to July 1996, there were 435-527 individuals there with a ratio of adult females: subadults: calves of 1:0.99: 0.35 (Zeng et al. 1998).

Budorcas taxicolor taxicolor
No rigorous estimate has been made of the total population in China, but Wang (1998) estimated about 3,500, mostly in Tibet. In Myanmar populations are decreasing because of hunting for bushmeat (by trapping and crossbow), and is now rare (Than Zaw pers comm. 2006).

Budorcas taxicolor tibetana
No total population estimate in China has been made, but several thousand animals are believed to inhabit the Qionglai and Min mountains. A survey of Sichuan takin populations carried out in 1975 in the Wolong and Tangjiahe Nature Reserves (Qingchuan county), estimated 191 (Wu et al., 1987) and 370 to 410 (Ge et al., 1989) animals, respectively. Large herds numbering as many as 45 to 100 individuals have been seen occasionally in Tianguan, Baoxing, Pingwu and Qingchuan. Other population observations estimate the young to account for 17.8%, the sub-adults for 13.3% and the adults 68.9%, while the adult male to female sex ratio is 2:1 (Wu et al., 1990; see also Schaller et al., 1986).

Budorcas taxicolor whitei
There is no known estimate of population size or trend for B. taxicolor whitei within China, Bhutan, or India.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found in eastern Himalayan pine shrub, subtropical forest, and possibly temperate forest in Myanmar (Than Zaw pers. comm. 2006). Budorcas taxicolor whitei inhabits sub-tropical to subalpine forests, mainly between 2,000 and 3,500 m, but sometimes entering as low as 1,500 m, or moving up to areas above the timberline. In summer, Takin feed in alpine meadows up to 4,000 m. In winter they descend into the valleys and forests to as low as 1,000 m. They feed on a variety of grasses, bamboo shoots, forbs and leaves of shrubs and trees. Takin forage in early morning and late afternoon, and regularly visit salt-licks which renders them very vulnerable to poachers who lay in ambush. Takins seasonally migrate to preferred habitats. During spring and early summer months, they begin to gather in large herds of up to 100 animals at the uppermost limits of treeline. During cooler autumn months, when food is less plentiful at higher elevations, herds disband into smaller groups of up to 20 individuals, and move to forested valleys at lower elevations. Groups mainly comprise females, subadults, young and some adult males. Older males usually remain solitary throughout most of the year, but gather with females during the rutting season. Sexually mature at about 3.5 years of age. Rutting occurs in late summer, followed by a gestation of 200 to 220 days. Single young are born in March or April. Longevity is about 16-18 years.

Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi inhabits in temperate forest and coniferous forest from 1,300 to 2,800 m in the Foping Nature Reserve, and make seasonal vertical movement (Zeng et al. 2008). They feed on 163 species of plant, including grasses, bamboo shoots, forbs and leaves of shrubs and trees (Zeng and Song 2001). Breeding season starts in early June and lasts to the end of July with a peak from middle of June to middle of July (Wang et al. 2005). Newborn calves are observed in February and March. Mean group size was 10.84 (n=96), the male:female ratio was0.49:1 (Zeng et al. 2002). Solitary males were observed during the breeding season; most solitary, old males were seen during winter in lower elevation. Sexually maturity occurs at 4.5 years of age for female and 5.5 for males in wild populations of B.t. bedfordi.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi
Deforestation, hunting, disturbance, and habitat fragmentation are continuing concerns (Wang 1998).

Budorcas taxicolor taxicolor
In Tibet, China, hunting is the main threat, but habitat destruction caused by deforestation is also serious (Wang et al. 1997, Wang 1998). In Myanmar populations are threatened by for bushmeat (by trapping and crossbow; Salter 1997).

Budorcas taxicolor tibetana
Overhunting has resulted in local extirpation of this takin in some areas of its range, and recovery has been slow despite legal protection measures. Habitat loss and disturbance from tourism are also significant threats.

Budorcas taxicolor whitei
With almost no management or protection in the remote border areas of China, over-hunting by local people is hard to control, and hunting of large herds in winter is reported to be a serious problem (Feng et al., 1986). In Bhutan, threats include competition and disease transmission from domestic livestock, habitat loss (pasture burning), and loss or disruption of migration routes. In India, major threats come primarily from habitat loss resulting from activities such as timber harvesting, cane and bamboo cutting and road construction, all associated with human populations that continue to encroach on areas occupied by takin. Local people are also known to hunt takin regularly, both within and outside protected areas. Recent surveys of takin found evidence of hunting in the Siang Valley and Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary but only limited sign of the animals themselves, whereas in Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, considerable numbers of takin tracks and droppings, and evidence of hunting were found (Katti et al., 1990). Current levels of hunting by local residents may not represent a significant influence on takin populations (Katti et al., 1990).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In China, all subspecies are protected from direct exploitation by their inclusion under Category I of the National Wildlife Law of 1988, although a small number are taken yearly in trophy hunts. They are not legally hunted in India or Bhutan. Their legal status in Myanmar is uncertain. The species is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi
The subspecies is currently protected by legal statute (the National Wildlife Protection Law of 1988) and nature reserves in Shaanxi, and both distribution and number seem to have increased in recent years. As of 2003, fourteen nature reserves, occupying about 3,250 km² have been established for protection of takin and their habitat. Logging bans established in the late 1990s greatly improved the habitat conditions and security for B. t. bedfordi.

Budorcas taxicolor taxicolor
In the remote areas where this subspecies lives in China, local people may not be aware of its legal status. It occurs in Nujiang Nature Reserve, located in the northern mountains of Yunnan, which was established in 1981 to protect this takin along with other endangered species. Herds of greater than 100 animals have been seen in this nature reserve (Lu, 1987). It also occurs in Gaoligongshan in Yunnan. It ocurrs in Cibagou Nature Reserve (Wu and Zhang 2006) and Dong Jiu Nature Reserve (MacKinnon et al. 1996) in Tibet. It occurs mainly within protected areas in Myanmar, (Than Zaw pers comm. 2006). In Arunachel Pradesh, India, it occurs in Namdapha National Park, Mouling National Park, Dibang Willdife Sanctuary, Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve (Singh 2002). Conservation measures proposed are: 1) complete a population census of the Mishmi takin, beginning in the Nujiang Nature Reserve, before moving to other parts of its range; 2) develop a co-operative program between Chinese and Myanmar authorities to strictly forbid hunting of this animal; and 3) locate potential protected areas.

Budorcas taxicolor tibetana
Between 1963 and 1978, a total of 10 nature reserves were established in Sichuan to protect endangered animals such as the giant panda and golden monkey, but most also provided protection for Sichuan takin. Protected areas with this subspecies include: Baishuijiang (Gansu); Baihe, Fengtongzhai, Jiuzhaigou, Labahe, Mabian Dafending, Tangjiahe, Wanglong, Wolong and Xiaozhaizigou (Sichuan). Since that time, the nature reserve system with habitat for the taxon has continued to expand, including Huanglongsi and Meigudanfengding (Sichuan), and Jianshan and Tou’ersantan (Gansu; MacKinnon et al. 1996), Captive breeding has been successful in Chengdu Zoo since 1978 (Hu et al. 1984). The primary conservation measure proposed is further scientific study on the ecology and management of this subspecies is necessary for its long term conservation.

Budorcas taxicolor whitei
This taxon is currently listed in Schedule I of Bhutan’s Forest and Nature Conservation Act (1995). In China, it is found in Nujiang (Yunnan) and Muotua (Feng et al., 1986) Nature Reserves. In Bhutan, the species is known to inhabit Jigme Dorji National Park. Conservation measures proposed include: 1) educate local people to make them aware of conservation legislation; 2) develop co-operative conservation measures between countries; 3) undertake a survey to census numbers and delineate distributions; 4) special emphasis should be given to determining and preserving its migration routes between seasonal ranges to protect takin habitat (Wollenhaupt, 1990); 5) in India, establish the proposed biosphere reserve that encompasses the Namdapha National Park and several additional protected areas in northeastern Arunachal Pradesh (if adequately protected, these areas would significantly increase the number and size of effective conservation areas for takin); and 6) continually reassess human populations and their increased access in the takin distribution area since the species is commonly hunted by locals.

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Citation: Song, Y.-L., Smith, A.T. & MacKinnon, J. 2008. Budorcas taxicolor. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 July 2014.
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