West China Tufted Deer | Online Record Book Preview
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West China Tufted Deer - Species Detail
Ciervo monudo (Sp), Schopfhirsch (G), Cerf touffe, Elaphode (F).
DESCRIPTION (male) Shoulder height 22-25 inches (56-64 cm). Females are slightly smaller.
Similar to a muntjac, though slightly larger and with much smaller antlers. The coat is coarse and pithy, the ears broad and rounded, and the tail moderately long. The tiny antlers are unbranched and often are completely hidden by the tuft of long hairs growing from the crown. Antlers grow from bony, hair-covered pedicels that converge at the top, do not form ridges on the forehead, and are shorter and less pronounced than those of a muntjac. The upper canine teeth of the male are elongated into tusks that protrude from the lips. The female does not have tusks or antlers. Three subspecies are recognized:
The largest and darkest subspecies is the west China tufted deer (E. c. cephalophus), found in the highlands of eastern Tibet, extreme southeastern Qinghai, extreme southern Gansu, and Shaanxi, Sichuan, western Yunnan, and northeastern Myanmar (Burma). Its general color has been variously described as chocolate-brown or very dark gray to almost black in winter, becoming redder in summer. Underparts are white; the head and neck are gray. Forehead tuft is blackish-brown. Inside of ears, back of ear tips and underside of tail are white. Lydekker states the tail is mainly white above, but this may not be so.
Slightly smaller is the Ichang or central China tufted deer (E. c. ichangensis), from the highlands of eastern Sichuan, eastern Yunnan, Guizhou, northern Guangxi, northern Guangdong, Hunan, southwestern Hubei, and western Jiangxi. Its coat is dark brown with blackish legs, becoming generally blackish in winter. The underside of the tail is white, as is the tip. The skull is shorter and broader than in the Michie race. Intermediate in characteristics between the western and eastern races.
The Michie or coastal tufted deer (E. c. michianus), from Zhejiang, Fujian, and eastern Jiangxi, is about the same size as the Ichang race and slightly paler-more gray than brown-and has a smaller, more slender skull with narrow, pinched-in nasals. Inhabits reedbeds along watercourses at lower elevations. A fourth race (fociensis), from lower elevations in Fujian, was named years ago by Lydekker on the basis of one specimen. It was said to be slightly larger and darker than the Michie race, with more white on the ears and a wider and flatter skull. Its distinctiveness is disputed by later authorities who include it within michianus.
BEHAVIOR Usually solitary, but occasionally in pairs. Feeds on grass and other vegetation. Secretive and retiring. Mates in April and May, with 1-2 fawns born six months later. Barks when alarmed and during the rut. The tail is held erect when fleeing, with the white underside conspicuous against the dark coat.
HABITAT Dense vegetation, from low-lying valley jungles to mountain forests at elevations from 1,000 feet (300 m) to as high as 15,000 feet (4,600 m). Reportedly always near water.
DISTRIBUTION Most of southern and eastern China; also in northeastern Myanmar (Burma).
STATUS Plentiful. In China, about 100,000 are taken annually for meat (Sheng, 1989).
REMARKS Seldom sought by visiting sportsmen, with only one entry recorded in Rowland Ward (subspecies unknown). The antlers measured 7/8 inch (2.2 cm) in length, 1-3/4 inches (4.4 cm) in circumference.
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