Musk Deer poaching in Russia linked to logging roads
(VLADIVOSTOK, May 31, 2017) – Musk deer are small, shy, fanged deer targeted by poachers across Asia for the musk gland found in males, a substance that, gram from gram, is more valuable than gold.
Among the conclusions of a study published this month in the peer-reviewed journal Oryx, researchers from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), The Russian Academy of Sciences, Sikhote-Alin Reserve, and World Wildlife Fund found that logging activities inadvertently exacerbate the poaching problem by providing easy access for poachers in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains of the Russian Far East.
“Poachers drive to freshly-logged areas and set snares there for musk deer,” said Dasha Maksimova, a graduate student at the Pacific Geographical Institute who led the fieldwork component of this project.
There is a thriving black market for musk glands, used in the perfume industry and in Eastern medicine, and logging roads built to facilitate timber extraction make these deer easier to reach.
Thankfully, as the paper notes, the researchers proposed mitigating solutions that are being adopted by the logging company.
“We’re partnering with the primary timber company in the region – TerneyLes – to identify which logging roads most threaten musk deer, Amur tigers, Blakiston’s fish owls, and other important wildlife,” said Dr. Jonathan Slaght of WCS and the study’s lead author. “We’re working with them to block human access to these areas after selective logging is completed, thus meeting the needs of both the local economy and local wildlife.”
“Anthropogenic influences on the distribution of a vulnerable coniferous forest specialist: habitat selection by the Siberian musk deer Moschus moschiferus,” is available from Oryx for a short time as a free download. Authors include: Jonathan C. Slaght and Dale G. Miquelle of WCS; Brian Milakovsky of WWF; Dariya Maksimova and Alexander M. Panichev of the Pacific Geographical Institute; Ivan V. Seryodkin of the Pacific Geographical Institute and Far Eastern Federal University; and Vitaliy A. Zaitsev of A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution.
Funding for this study was provided by the WWF–IKEA Partnership and the Wildlife Conservation Society Research Fellowship Program.
Anthropogenic influences on the distribution of a vulnerable coniferous forest specialist: habitat selection by the Siberian Musk Deer Moschus moschiferus is freely available to download until 11th August 2017.
Photo: A male Siberian musk deer in Primorye, Russia. (Credit: D. Miquelle)