Photograph courtesy J. Goodrich
The Sikhote-Alin State Biosphere Zapovednik (Nature Reserve) recently started a research and conservation program focusing on Far-eastern musk deer (Moschus moschiferus). The Wildlife Conservation Society, in association with the Pacific Institute of Geography and the Svertsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, is also taking part in this project.
Musk deer populations in the Russian Far East have been significantly reduced recently due to poaching for the musk gland (found only in males), and due to habitat loss due to intensive logging and forest fires. In order to develop conservation recommendations, there is a need for sound scientific data that can be obtained through research using modern methods.
The program involves such methods as radio-telemetry, behavioral analysis based on sign, tracking, visual observation, and population monitoring via snow track counts. These methods will let us answer such important conservation questions such as population status, distribution, territory and habitat use, feeding, diurnal activity, intraspecific communication, and the impact of existing roads on the musk deer population.