Capricornis sumatraensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Capricornis sumatraensis
Species Authority: (Bechstein, 1799)
Common Name(s):
English Sumatran Serow, Serow
Capricornis sumatraensis (Bechstein, 1799) ssp. sumatraensis
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).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W., Steinmetz, R. & MacKinnon, J.
Reviewer(s): Harris, R. & Festa-Bianchet, M. (Caprinae Red List Authority)
This species is listed as Vulnerable because this species is believed to be in significant decline (probably at a rate of mores than 30% over three generations, taken at 21 years) because of both over-hunting and serious habitat loss taking place within its range.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is found in Indonesia (Sumatra), Malaysia (Peninsular Malaya), Thailand (south of about 9°S latitude) (Grubb, 2005). In Indonesia (Sumatra), limited almost entirely to the volcanic mountain chain of the Barisan mountains which runs along the western spine of Sumatra from Aceh in the north to Lampung in the south. Although suitable habitat is more extensive within these mountains (Santiapillai and Widodo, 1989), there are only three known major concentrations: the Aceh highlands in the north, the Kerinci highlands in the centre and the Barisan Seletan highlands in the south. It is also found scattered through Peninsular (West) Malaysia, but concentrated in the northern states, especially Kelantan, Perlis and Perak. The species has been recorded in 50 areas in Peninsular Malaysia, but in each area, the number of animals is estimated to be only between 10 to 15 individuals.
Countries occurrence:
Indonesia; Malaysia; Thailand
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):200
Upper elevation limit (metres):3000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No population estimates have been made in Indonesia. Although vulnerable to poaching and habitat destruction, serow appears to thrive well in some of the better protected areas such as Gunung Leuser National Park. Here the serow population may be healthy and increasing (M. Griffiths pers. comm., 1992). The species is considered 'rare' in Taratak Forest Reserve, Sumatra, Indonesia, based on a camera trapping survey undertaken in 2005.

In Malaysia, Mustafa et al. (1990) conducted a reconnaissance survey in the Pelangai Forest Reserve, Negeri Sembilan (3,107 ha), in an effort to determine the number of serow present before a capture operation started. Thirteen animals were recorded in this area, giving a density of 0.4 serow/km². The total number of serow estimated for Peninsular Malaysia is between 500 and 750 animals, scattered through many, very small, isolated populations, though the basis for these numbers is very unclear. It is said not to be common in the Malay peninsula (Kwai HinHan pers. comm.).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It inhabits steep mountain slopes between 200 and 3,000 m (van der Zon, 1979), covered by both primary and secondary forests. The serow is predominantly a browser (Santiapillai and Widodo, 1989). It is usually solitary in nature, but small groups of up to seven have been observed (Nowak, 1991). It may occupy seasonal ranges and use well marked trails that often run along ridges of steep hills. Sumatran serow feed in the early hours of the morning and in late evenings, sheltering under overhanging cliffs and rocks during the rest of the day. No information on Sumatran serow reproduction is available.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Within Indonesia, habitat destruction threatens the long-term survival of serow. The principal causes of habitat destruction are slash-and-burn agriculture practiced by highlanders and shifting cultivators, and the indiscriminate extraction of timber for export to the West. Poaching is not uncommon, and serows are caught in snares set for other game species, as well as shot, for local consumption of the meat, and for use of body parts in traditional medicines. Hunting occurs inside and outside of protected areas. Sources living around protected areas in Sumatra, such as the Gunung Leuser National Park, Aceh, claim that hunting continues to increase as illegal logging roads have opened up parts of the park, allowing access to previously inaccessible areas. Locals claim that populations of this species are in decline. Trade of parts, especially the horns, is carried out openly in some places, such as in the town of Pancur Batu, North Sumatra. No enforcement action against individuals trading in Serow parts has taken place in these locations.

Threats in Malaysia come mainly from disturbance and from habitat destruction caused by mining activities in the limestone and quartz ridge quarries within their habitat, and by deforestation of the hill dipterocarp forests for logging and agriculture. Serows also suffer from substantial poaching for its meat and body parts that are used for medicinal purposes. In Malaysia, a number of small populations exist, but are threatened by illegal hunting, with this species sometimes being a target, not just an opportunistic kill. In Malaysia, this species does appear to be tolerant of some human disturbance, and in some areas, occurs very near human habitation. Over the past two years, enforcement authorities have taken action against individuals involved in illegal hunting of this species, and as a result, trade in this species is not carried out openly, as it is in other Southeast Asian range States. Very little information on current populations of this species exists. However, local people living near serow habitat state that populations may be declining, due to hunting and due to quarrying of limestone and quartz areas. Some wildlife restaurants in Malaysia offer the meat of this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES.

In Indonesia (Sumatra), has been protected by law since 1932. A total of 3,083,308 ha of serow habitat are under some form of protection in a system of protected areas that includes three national parks, three game reserves, three nature reserves and two protected forests. However, many of these areas await gazetting and staffing, and in the absence of these actions they are little more than “paper” parks. Conservation measures proposed for Indonesia: 1) Conduct surveys along the Barisan mountain chain to determine current status, and to identify if there are any other viable populations of serow outside the currently known, main concentrations areas. 2) Maintain natural forest cover along the volcanic spine of Sumatra, free from roads, agriculture, timber extraction and other human encroachment. This offers the best hope for the serow’s long-term survival in Indonesia (Santiapillai and Widodo 1989). 3) maintain the strict protection of reserves where viable serow populations still exist; this must remain the prime concern. Protected areas where serow now occur must be properly zoned and managed. 4) Strictly protect the core areas which incorporate the feeding and breeding areas, to avoid interactions with humans. 5) Design land-use activities in the vicinity of serow reserves so that they are compatible with serow conservation. 6) Adopt measures to improve the living conditions of people existing along the periphery of serow reserves. 7) Publicize the plight of the serow to the people through sensible conservation education programs.

The Sumatran serow is totally protected under the Wildlife Act (76/72) of Peninsular Malaysia. Enforcement is carried out by the Department of Wildlife and National Park’s Enforcement Division. Serow occur in seven protected areas, but unfortunately these neither represent typical serow habitat, nor are they adequate to ensure its survival. Serow is also found in six proposed protected areas. Small captive breeding groups of serow are held at Zoo Negara (Vellayan, 1989) and Zoo Melaka. Conservation measures proposed for Malaysia: Implement the serow conservation strategy developed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Peninsular Malaysia. This strategy includes: 1) Develop management plans and the application of appropriate wildlife management techniques to conserve and enhance serow populations. The management goals are to: 2) establish and conserve genetically viable populations in protected wildlife reserves, national parks, permanent forest reserves, and other forested areas and limestone hills; 3) protect areas which contain serow and manage them for an optimum sustainable population; and 4) establish a captive breeding population for future re-introduction of serow into protected areas. Specific management objectives and recommendations identified to meet these goals include: 5) co-ordinate actions of conservation agencies with those of agencies involved in quarrying and logging operations, to promote wildlife conservation; 6) develop a public education program; 7) increase effectiveness of law enforcement; 8) train personnel; 9) improve habitat management and conservation by increasing thenumber of protected areas; and 10) carry out ecological and biological research.

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

Citation: Duckworth, J.W., Steinmetz, R. & MacKinnon, J. 2008. Capricornis sumatraensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T3812A10099434. . Downloaded on 20 January 2017.
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