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Musk deer facing risk of extinction

Musk deer facing risk of extinction in Himalayas

The Delhi Age (New Delhi)
October 5, 2000

Vadodara, Oct. 4: Musk deer, popularly known as kasturi mrug, is
vanishing from its geographical epicentre of the Himalayas.

About 4,000 adult male deer are killed annually, due to their high
demand in the international market. Zoologists estimate the number of
musk deer, which was placed in the vulnerable category in 1986, at

International Society of Naturalists general secretary G.M. Oza said
musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster) is distributed in the Himalayan region.
Geographically, it formerly existed throughout the entire Himalayan
upper forest region, and was found in the scrub level between 2,200 m
and 4,300 m, extending from Pakistan through northern India, Nepal,
Bhutan and Tibet.

Dr Oza said, traditionally the musk is used for medicine purposes,
though a very little musk is used for the same in the global era. It has
been estimated that more than 80 artificial musks figure in the global

He said the ayurvedic and unani systems of medicine rate musk as a
stimulant and sedative as well. However, scientific studies reveal that
the action of musk has a negligible therapeutic value.

Its demand has been related to medicinal use as a stimulant for
impotency and the treatment of bronchitis, pneumonia and typhoid, while
patients with epilepsy, hysteria, asthma and nervous irregularities have
sought musk as a sedative.

He regretted the current situation and added that poaching and smuggling
of musk are still uncontrolled in the country. It is reportedly
increasing in Arunachal Pradesh, where a large number of pods have been
seized in the last decade. The exit points from India also include major
cities like Delhi, Calcutta, Amritsar and Mumbai.

Dr Oza said, out of every five musk deer gunned down in the country, oly
two turn out to be mature males possessing a pod.

In Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, the poaching fraternity string miles of
fences and snares at five metre intervals along the mountain valleys. Of
every four deer killed, only one provides pod. The poaching operations
are carried out so indiscriminately that a valley?s population will be
erased in a short span of just two years, he added.

Dr Oza said the price of musk deer in the international market is
skyrocketing, leading to increase in the poaching and smuggling from the
Himalayan habitat.

The Himalayan musk deer is likely to disappear forever, because the
demand for musk deer is high in the international market, particularly
in Japan, he added.

The Himalayas have completely lost their population of musk deer, and it
appears that trade-wise, Japan, more than any other nation, has the
dubious distinction of accelerating the likely extinction of the
Himalayan musk deer.

In the international market, the price of a musk is US dollar 5,000 per
kg. The musk gland or pod weighs around 22 g. Thus, 2 kg of musk needs
40 pods. (UNI)