Anhui Musk Deer (Moschus anhuiensis): Chinese Species Endemic to Anhui and Possibly Hubei Province

by DerdriuMarriner

Downsizing and upgrading are possible at work and in science. Getting new or separate species status falls under promotions. It is why modern China alone has the Anhui musk deer.

Anhui moschids are the endemic musk deer species of eastern China’s Anhui Province. They cannot be found among the native wildlife in any of the Chinese Republic’s other provinces. This recognition only comes recently.

Acceptance epitomizes upgrades within the scientific world.

The International Astronomical Union’s downgrading Pluto from planet to dwarf planet in 2006 functions as a prime example of demotions and downsizing. A contrasting example of promotions may be found in 1982 with:
• the end of misidentifying Anhui moschids as Chinese forest, Siberian fanged, or Vietnamese dwarf musk deer subspecies;
• the start of recognizing them as their own species.

The change will help protect and sustain Anhui Province’s genetically distinct musk deer species.

Human landscape of Anhui Musk Deer's native province: Ancient Village of Hongcun, inscribed with Xidi village as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 ~

An open watercourse flowing through all houses in Hongcun forms two ponds, one in center (Moon Pond) and the other, Nanhu, to village's south (South Lake).
Nanhu Lake, Hongcun Village, Anhui Province
Nanhu Lake, Hongcun Village, Anhui Province


Eastward-bound high-speed trains from Shanghai deposit passengers three hours later in Anhui Province. Tourists enjoy the four-season weather’s:

  • Average annual rainfall of 29.53 – 66.93 inches (750 – 1,700 millimeters);
  • Average coldest temperature of 30.2°F (-1°C);
  • Average warmest temperature of 84.2°F (29°C).

They find ancient and modern attractions in the province’s Changjiang and Huaihe Rivers-demarcated geo-cultural areas:

  • Northern plains;
  • Southern slopes;
  • Western mountains.

Inclusion on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage List gives visitors strong reasons for prioritizing trips to southern Anhui Province’s UNESCO-WHL sites, at:

  • Hongcun and Xidi National Famous Historic and Cultural Villages;
  • Mount Huangshan (“Yellow Mountain”) National Park.

Faunal, floral, and geological diversity particularly inspire visits to the province’s mountainous western region.


stunning native landscape of Anhui Musk Deer's native province: Huangshan ("Yellow Mountains") of southern Anhui Province, eastern China

Huangshan / 黄山


Springtime droughts and summertime floods can occur in Anhui Province’s northern regions. They do not impact the less variable expressions of a mild monsoon climate in Anhui’s southern and western regions. Dabieshan in the west and Huangshan in the south indeed function as Anhui Province’s major rain areas. The Dabie Mountain Range in fact is renowned as:

  • The boundary marker for Anhui, Henan, and Hubei Provinces;
  • The main watershed.

It offers to native wildlife:

  • Altitudes 984.25 – 5,820.21 feet (300 – 1,774 meters) above sea level;
  • Commercial plantings of chestnut (Castanea mollissima), mulberry (Morus australis), tea (Camellia sinensis), vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides);
  • Granite-weathered soils;
  • Rainfall events;
  • Water bodies;
  • Wooded slopes of revenue-generating bamboo (Bambuseae tribe) and cork oak (Quercus suber).


Anhui Province encompasses bamboo forests (Bambuseae) within its mountainous landscapes:

Bamboo forest on Huanghan ("Yellow Mountains")
bamboo forest


Wildlife-loving amateurs and professionals accept two main sets of names for the world’s taxonomized animals and plants. The common, non-scientific, popular name articulates the traditional or widespread way of identifying an organism. It generally emphasizes outstanding bio-geographical connections or physical traits. For Anhui’s moss-eating, musk-making, native deer species, it gets configured as Anhui musk deer. But it is not the only contemporary designation. It must share name-holding space with the Anhui moschid’s binomial (“two-name”), Greco-Latin, scientific identification. Wildlife-loving amateurs and specialists therefore need to remember the taxonomic name as Moschus anhuiensis, with the first term identifying the genus to which all moschids belong and the second the species which claims only moschids endemic (exclusive) to Anhui Province.


Musk Deer: illustration by Cuthbert Edmund Swan (January 11, 1870 - December 1931)

Frank Finn, The Wild Beasts of the World, Vol. Two, opp. p. 80
Frank Finn, The Wild Beasts of the World, Vol. Two, opp. p. 80


Unlike cervids (true deers), all moschids display:

  • An absence of antlers and facial glands;
  • The presence of gallbladders and tusk-like canines.

Their physique expresses asymmetric, petite looks with:

  • Banded backs;
  • Big eyes;
  • Heavy rumps;
  • Herbivorous (“plant-eating”) dentition (arrangement and number of teeth) with 6 incisors, 4 canines, 12 pre-molars, 12 molars;
  • Longer, strong rear-legs;
  • Rabbit-like ears;
  • Shorter, weaker front-legs;
  • Sloped withers.

Each foot gets one pair each of similarly-sized dewclaws and hooves to:

  • Assist in jumping and walking agilely and quickly;
  • Leave their clear prints in tracks.

The feet and legs additionally lay claim to some of the musk deer’s multiple fragrance-emitting glands, which occur:

  • Anally;
  • Caudally (around and on the tail);
  • Nasally;
  • Orbitally (near the eyes).


musk pod, obtained from the male musk deer

Guangdong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum, South China Sea Coast, southeastern China
Guangdong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum, South China Sea Coast, southeastern China


Coloration emerges as one way by which the different musk deer species can be identified. For example, Anhui moschids give grey-brown impressions. The earth colors have very savvy impacts upon Anhui musk deer life cycles and natural histories. Anhui moschids indeed inhabit niches within such high-elevation, montane habitats as:

  • Broad-leaved forests;
  • Coniferous forests;
  • Dense shrub- and wood-lands;
  • Mixed deciduous and evergreen forests.

The specimen which inspires the Anhui musk deer’s promotion from subspecies to species status in fact is from an altitude of 1,640.42 feet (500 meters) above sea level within the Changling region, Jinzhai County, Anhui Province. A survey of Dabieshan’s Mazongling Nature Reserve in 1993 records Anhui musk deer sightings at 3,280.84 feet (1,000 meters).


Dwarf Musk Deer (Moschus berezovskii), also known as Chinese Forest Deer ~ Anhui Musk Deer formerly was described as subspecies:

Illustration by Jean Gabriel Pretre (1780 - 1845)
F. Cuvier, Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles (1816-1829)
F. Cuvier, Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles (1816-1829)


More than a super-hazy understanding of Anhui moschids demands:

  • Collection of local anecdotes;
  • Consultation of historical documents;
  • Cooperation of wildlife specialists.

For example, it is known that the Anhui musk deer attains physical and sexual maturity with:

  • Hair lengths of 2.13 inches (5.4 centimeters);
  • Head-and-body lengths of 27.56 – 30.12 inches (70 – 76.5 centimeters);
  • Shoulder lengths of 19.69 inches (50 centimeters);
  • Weights of 15.65 – 21.39 pounds (7.1 – 9.7 kilograms).

It is suspected that the species commits to:

  • Native home and territorial ranges in the Hubei Province side of Dabieshan;
  • Permanent feeding paths, resting perches, sheltering places, watering points;
  • Predictable diets of forbs, flowers, leaves, grasses, lichens, needles, twigs;
  • Year-round home and territorial ranges demarcated by hoof-marks and scent-releases.


Siberian Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus) ~ Anhui Musk Deer formerly was described as subspecies:

illustration by Jean Gabriel Pretre (1780 - 1845)
F. Cuvier, Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles (1816-1829)
F. Cuvier, Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles (1816-1829)



All musk deer species are elusive, non-aggressive, reclusive denizens of:

  • Remote, rocky, rough, rugged slopes;
  • Steep mountains.

Bio-geography, coloration, and deportment theoretically converge to ensure their survival and sustainability. But modern versus traditional interactions emerge all along urban versus wildland interfaces. One such conflict-riddled zone may exist for Anhui’s endemic musk deer species, which is:

  • Predictable in lifestyle;
  • Unique among moschids in realizing not just single but also twin births;
  • Vulnerable as day-sleepers and evening-trippers.

Anhui Province offers many opportunities for:

  • Agro-industrialism;
  • Construction;
  • Tourism;
  • Transportation.

It theoretically welcomes black market-serving hunters of Anhui moschid meat, musk, and tusks. Provincial decision-making therefore will need to keep reconciling revenue-generating opportunities with:

  • Environmental education;
  • Governmental protection;
  • Scientific research;
  • Wildlife-loving activism.  


Landscape of Dabie Mountains, native habitat of Anhui Musk Deer: Mount Tiãntángzhài straddles Hubei Province's Luotian County and Jinzhai County in Anhui Province as second highest peak in Dabie Mountains ~

Mount Tiãntángzhài landscape: Jiuzihe Township on Jiuwanxi River in Luotian County, Hubei Province
eastern Hubei Province, east central China
eastern Hubei Province, east central China



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Satellite view of Anhui Musk Deer's native habit, lower left: "The forested Dabie Mountains, an important source of bamboo in the country, stand out from the gray haze and the olive-colored plains to the north."

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite: May 29, 2007
Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite: May 29, 2007

Sources Consulted


“Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui -- Xidi and Hongcun.” UNESCO > Culture > World Heritage Centre > The List > World Heritage List. Retrieved November 11, 2014.

  • Available at:

“Anhui Musk Deer Moschus anhuiensis Wang, Hu & Yan, 1982.” Taxon Profile > Species. Retrieved November 11, 2014.

  • Available at:

Baskin, Leonard. 2003. "Musk Deer (Moschinae)." Pp. 335-338 in Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopeda, 2nd edition. Volume 15, Mammals IV, edited by Michael Hutchins, Devra G. Kleiman, Valerius Geist, and Melissa C. McDade. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.

Bisby, F.A.; Roskov, Y.R.; Orrell, T.M.; Nicolson, D.; Paglinawan, L.E.; Bailly, N.; Kirk, P.M.; Bourgoin, T.; Baillargeon, G.; and Ouvrard, D. (red.). 2011. "Moschus anhuiensis Wang, Hu, and Yan, 1982." Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2011 Annual Checklist. Reading, UK. Retrieved November 11, 2014.

  • Available at:

Cuvier, Fréderic. 1816 - 1829. Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles: Planches. 2e partie: règne organisé. Zoologie, Mammiféres. Paris: F.G. Levrault.

  • Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library at:

Finn, Frank. n.d. The Wild Beasts of the World. Illustrated with 100 Reproductions in Full Colours from Drawings by Louis Sargent, Cuthbert E. Swan, and Winifred Austin. Volume Two. London: T.C. & E.C. Jack.

  • Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library at:

Flerov, Konstantin Konstantinovich. 1952. Musk Deer and Deer. Moscow, Russia: Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Groves, C.P. 2011. "Family Moschidae (Musk-Deer)." In Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2: Hooved Mammals edited by D.E. Wilson and R.A. Mittermeier. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Groves, C. P.; Yingxiang, W.; and Grubb, P. 1995. "Taxonomy of Musk-Deer, Genus Moschus (Moschidae, Mammalia)." Acta Theriologica Sinica 15(3):181-197.


Grubb, P. 2005. "Artiodactyla." Pp. 637-722 in Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd Edition) Edited by D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.


"Moschus anhuiensis (Anhui Musk Deer)." Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved November 11, 2014.

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"Moschus anhuiensis (Anhui Musk Deer)." ZipcodeZoo: Species Identifier 4753182. Retrieved November 11, 2014.

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Moschus anhuiensis Wang, Hu, and Yan, 1982.” ITIS Report: Taxonomic Serial No. 898195. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved November 11, 2014.

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"Mount Huangshan." UNESCO > Culture > World Heritage Centre > The List > World Heritage List. Retrieved November 11, 2014.

  • Available at:

Nowak, R.M. 1999. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Sixth edition. Baltimore, MD; and London, England: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Pickrell, John. 7 September 2004. “Poachers Target Musk Deer for Perfumes, Medicines.” National News. Retrieved November 2014.

  • Available at:

Rue, Dr. Leonard Lee III. 2003. The Encyclopedia of Deer: Your Guide to the World's Deer Species, Including Whitetails, Mule Deer, Caribou, Elk, Moose, and More. Stillwater MN: Voyageur Press.

Smith, A.; and Xie, Y. 2008. The Mammals of China. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Su, B.; Wang, Y.X.; and Wang, Q. S. 2001. "Mitochondria DNA Sequences Imply Anhui Musk Deer a Valid Species in Genus Moschus." Zoological Research 22(3):169-173.

Su, B.; Wang, Y.X.; Lan, H.; Wang W.; and Zhang, Y. P. 2001. "Phylogenetic Study of Complete Cytochrome b Genes in Musk Deer (Genus Moschus) Using Museum Samples." Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 12(3):241-249.

Wang, Y.; and Harris, R.B. 2008. "Moschus anhuiensis." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Retrieved November 11, 2014.

  • Available at:

Yang, Q. S.; Meng, X.X.; Xia, L.; and Lin Feng, Z.J. 2003. "Conservation Status and Causes of Decline of Musk Deer (Moschus spp.) in China." Biological Conservation 109:333-342.


Landscape of Anhui Musk Deer's native province ~ Huangshan pine (Pinus hwangshanensis)

Ying Ke Pine, or Welcoming-Guests Pine, is estimated to have graced its landscape for over 1,500 years.
Huangshan pines
Huangshan pines
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

The Encyclopedia of Deer by Dr. Leonard Lee Rue III

This comprehensive new reference work provides a unique source of information about all 45 of the worlds deer species.
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Deer Crossing sign: black t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

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Jigsaw Puzzle of Bicycle in Huangshan City (Tunxi), Anhui Province, China: photo by Jochen Schlenker

10x14 Photo Puzzle with 252 pieces. Packed in black cardboard box 5 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 1/5. Puzzle image 5x7 affixed to box top.
Photo Jigsaw Puzzle - Robert Harding

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/02/2021, DerdriuMarriner
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