Siberian Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus) Endangered in China, Korea (North, South), Mongolia, Russia

by DerdriuMarriner

The Siberian musk deer also frequents China, Mongolia, North and South Korea, and Sakhalin. All species grow tusks, not antlers. Developers and hunters threaten their survival.

The Siberian musk deer adapts to life on the forested, lofty mountains of:
• China;
• Kazahkstan (possibly);
• Mongolia;
• North Korea;
• Russia (Far Eastern, Siberian Federal Districts);
• South Korea.

With such extensive distribution ranges, the species answers to such English-language names as Far East, Korean, Sakhalin, and Taiga musk deer. Siberian moschid (moss-eating, musk-making deer) and Siberian musk deer nevertheless appear as the most used designations since the first specimen known to be described according to Swedish nobleman Carl Linnaeus’s system for identifying animals and plants comes from the modern Russian Federation’s ancient, beautiful, cryptic Siberian Federal District. But the geographical vastness and natural richness of the above-mentioned Asian homelands ironically offer decreasing protection to endangered musk deer populations.

Siberian Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus):

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

 

Common, informal, non-scientific, popular, and traditional names are intended to:

  • Highlight memorable geographical associations and physical features;
  • Honor local and regional nomenclatures passed down by an area’s peoples.

Formal, Greco-Latin, official, scientific, and taxonomic names attest to scientific interest in and investigation of faunal and floral life forms which may or may not be known to non-scientists. They likewise consider in their configurations:

  • Commemorating specimen collectors and researchers;
  • Describing hallmark colors;
  • Emphasizing bio-geographical frequencies.

They fit into duo-partite or tri-partite identification systems. Binomialism (“two-name”) lets taxonomists categorize animals and plants by:

  • Genus;
  • Species.

Trinomialism (“three-name”) offers further division into subspecies, of which there must be at least two. The first-known subspecies repeats the name of the species.

 

illustration of male Moschus moschiferus collected ca. 1867 in mountains near Peiping (Beijing) by Henri Victor Fontanier (September 1830 - June 21, 1870), French Consul at Peiping, 1869 - 1870:

Huet, Pinx.; Chromolith: G. Severeyns
H. Milne Edwards, Recherches pour servir à l'histoire naturelle des mammifères: Tome seconde: Atlas (1868-1874), Plate 19
H. Milne Edwards, Recherches pour servir à l'histoire naturelle des mammifères: Tome seconde: Atlas (1868-1874), Plate 19

 

Trinomialism applies to some -- but not all -- of Asia’s musk deer species. It differentiates species by:

  • Regions within homelands;
  • Traits within physiques.  

The Siberian musk deer emerges as one such moschid genus member whose complete taxonomy involves three names. The genus and the species, Moschus moschiferus, hallow formal analyses in 1758 by ennobled biologist, botanist, physician, proto-ecologist, proto-taxonomist, publisher, and zoologist Carl Linnaeus (May 23, 1707 – January 10, 1778) of Råshult village, Småland Province, southern Sweden. The list of subspecies is as follows:

  • Moschus moschiferus moschiferus -- Mongolia, Russia;
  • M.m. arcticus (Flerov, 1929) and M.m. turovi (Zalkin, 1945) -- Russia;
  • M.a. parvipes (Hollister, 1911) -- China, North Korea, South Korea;
  • M.m. sachalinensis (Flerov, 1929) -- Sakhalin Island.

 

Range map of the Siberian musk deer (Moschus moschiferus)

Derived from Nyambayar, B., Mix, H. & Tsytsulina, K. 2008. Moschus moschiferus. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011
Derived from Nyambayar, B., Mix, H. & Tsytsulina, K. 2008. Moschus moschiferus. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011

 

The Siberian musk deer appears in:

  • China;
  • Mongolia;
  • North Korea;
  • Russia (Far Eastern, Siberian Federal Districts);
  • South Korea.

All five subspecies occupy similar niches. They prefer:

  • Altitudes 8,530.18 – 11,811.02 feet (2,600 – 3,600 meters) above sea level;
  • Forested, north-facing, steep slopes;
  • Lichen-rich coniferous forests, shrublands;
  • Mountain taiga (mixed forests of broadleaves -- especially birch [Betula spp] -- and conifers -- especially larch [Larix spp], pine [Pinus spp], spruce [Picea spp]);
  • Rocky outcrops, promontories;
  • Summer-accessed, wooded river valleys -- of bilberry (Vaccinium spp), cereals, grasses, wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius) -- at heights below 5,249.34 feet (1,600 meters) or above 6,233.59 feet (1,900 meters);
  • Wintry evapotranspiration of 12.51 inches (317.71 millimeters), precipitation of 1.23 inches (31.16 millimeters), temperatures of 16.92°F (-8.38°C).

 

Siberian Musk Deer floral synecology: wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius), natives of northern China, Japan, and Korea

wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius)

 

Craggy slopes, forested mountains, and river valleys let Siberian moschids realize life cycles and natural histories. They offer 5.64 – 9.35 ounces (160 – 265 grams) in crepuscular, nocturnal forages for:

  • Summer’s flowers, forbs, grasses, leaves, lichens, mosses, twigs;
  • Winter’s bark, berries, cereals, leaves, lichens, mushrooms, needles, twigs.

They permit:

  • Home and territorial ranges respectively of 4.94 – 24.71 acres (2 – 10 hectares) and 494.21 – 741.32 acres (200 – 300 hectares);
  • Overlapping lairs of 5 – 7 females and young per dominant male;
  • 7 – 10 latrines and urinals per home range.

They provide cover for:

  • Breeding November, December;
  • Calving April, May, June.

They supply shelter from:

  • Foxes (Vulpes vulpes);
  • Lynxes (Lynx lynx);
  • Wolverines (Gulo gulo);
  • Wolves (Canis lupus);
  • Yellow-throated martens (Martes flavigula).

 

Siberian Musk Deer faunal synecology: female wolverine (Gulo gulo), undaunted predator of Siberian Musk Deer

Korkeasaari Island, Helsinki, southern Finland
Korkeasaari Island, Helsinki, southern Finland

 

Communal and individual survival gets prioritized in dusk-to-dawn lifestyles during life expectancies of:

  • 10 – 14 years in nature;
  • 12 - 20 years in captivity.

Adult females have to furnish their annual 1 – 2 newborns:

  • Milk-based meals;
  • Secure hideaways;
  • Weaning in 3 – 4 months.

They model:

  • Forages of 1.86 – 4.35 miles (3 – 7 kilometers);
  • Hissed vocalizations;
  • Jumps of 8.2 - 16.4 feet (2.5 - 5 meters);
  • Migrations of 21.75 miles (35 kilometers);
  • Stamina for 656.18 – 984.25 feet (200 – 300 meters);
  • Tree-climbs of 4.59 feet (1.40 meters);
  • Turns of 90° aerially;
  • Walks over crusted snow 23.62 – 27.56 inches (60 – 70 centimeters) deep.

Sustainability requires:

  • Physical and sexual maturity in 18 months;
  • Yearly gestations by two-thirds of all adult females.

 

male Siberian musk deer (Moschus moschiferus)

Plzeň Zoo, Western Bohemia, western Czech Republic
Plzeň Zoo, Western Bohemia, western Czech Republic

 

Offenses and self-defenses involve:

  • Anal, nasal, orbital, tail scent glands;
  • 1 canine, 3 premolars, 3 molars per left and right upper jaw;
  • 3 incisors, 1 canine, 3 premolars, 3 molars per left and right lower jaw.

Upper canines measure 3.15 – 3.94 inches (8 – 10 centimeters) long for males to attract mates, not impale predators. Adulthood realizes:

  • Bodies 23.62 – 39.37 inches (60 – 100 centimeters) long;
  • Shoulders 20.47 – 26.38 inches (52 – 67 centimeters) high;
  • Tails 1.18 – 2.36 inches (3 – 6 centimeters) long;
  • Weights of 17.64 – 35.27 pounds (8 – 16 kilograms).

Self-preservation requires:

  • Acute senses;
  • Arched spines;
  • Big-eyed, dark-nosed, kangaroo-like, rabbit-eared head;
  • Grizzled-brown, summer-soft, winter-coarse coat;
  • Longer, stronger hind-limbs;
  • Two-toed dewclaw, two-toed hoof per foot;
  • White-yellow chest, flank, neck markings.

 

Several views of skull of Siberian Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus)

Muséum de Toulouse, also known as MHNT (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de la ville de Toulouse), southwestern France
Muséum de Toulouse, also known as MHNT (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de la ville de Toulouse), southwestern France

Conclusion

 

Endangered habitats and threatened populations emerge as ironic downsides of:

  • Modern-minded versus tradition-bound interactions;
  • Urban versus wildland interfaces.

For example, agro-industrialism emphasizes people-friendly, wildlife-unfriendly environmental reconfigurations of:

  • Enterprises, factories;
  • Farms, ranches;
  • Roads;
  • Suburbs.

Exotic flesh-, fragrance-, and fur-seeking hunters endanger wildlife populations along wild edges and within wild habiats. The Siberian musk deer gets caught between the above-mentioned extremes because of:

  • Marketability to powerful, wealthy clienteles;
  • Predictability in communal excrement sites, feeding places, resting points, watering holes;
  • Self-defenselessness.

Problem-solving is challenged in such contexts pitting nature’s and people’s well-being. But it remains do-able with:

  • Formal and non-formal environmental education programs;
  • Government protection (nature reserves);
  • Musk farm inspections;
  • Scientific research;
  • Wildlife-loving activism for fur, meat, musk, trophy alternatives.

 

Siberian Musk Deer habitat: biome of the taiga, characterized by coniferous forests, mostly of larches (Larix), pines (Pinus), and spruces (Picea).

Siberian Musk Deer in the taiga
Siberian Musk Deer in the taiga

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Siberian Musk Deer floral synecology: Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora) along Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea

Kumgangsan ("Diamond Mountains"), North Korea, just north of Demilitarized Zone buffer zone between the two Koreas
Kumgangsan ("Diamond Mountains"), North Korea, just north of Demilitarized Zone buffer zone between the two Koreas

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Siberian Musk Deer habitat: Lake Baikal, world's deepest and oldest freshwater lake; 2/3 of the lake's 1700 fauna and flora are only found there; inscribed in 1996 as UNESCO World Heritage Site

Olkhon Island and Lake Baikal, southeastern Siberia, southeastern Russia
Olkhon Island and Lake Baikal, southeastern Siberia, southeastern Russia
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.
deer-themed encyclopedias

Image of Siberian Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus) from Recherches pour servir à l'histoire naturelle des mammifères, Vols. 1-4, 1868-74, by Dr. Henri Milne-Edwards (1800-1885) and Dr. Alphonse Milne-Edwards (1835-1900).

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.
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Deer Crossing Sign: black t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

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Photo of Window, Khoujir, Oikhon Island, Lake Baikal, UNESCO World Heritage Site: photo by Bruno Morandi ~ Lake Baikal, homeland of Siberian Musk Deer

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.
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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: 11/29/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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