Fea’s Muntjac, Muntiacus feae
Fea’s muntjac (Muntiacus feae), also known as the Tenasserim muntjac, is a species of muntjac that resides in many areas including Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and People’s Republic of China. Although there is much debate regarding the range of the deer, it is most commonly accepted that it ranges from the Isthmus of Kra east and north to southern Myanmar and to the neighboring borders of Thailand. Because there have been many sightings of this species in other areas where it is not known, and because new species are being described, this range is subject to change. In Myanmar, a picture of a possible male Fea’s mutjac was captured, showing that its range may extend more northward than previously thought. The preferred habitat of Fea’s muntjac is difficult to know for certain, because there is little information on the species as a whole. It is thought that it prefers to reside in upland evergreen forests or in mixed shrub forests.
Fea’s muntjac can reach an average weight between forty and forty six pounds. Its fur is dark and it can be distinguished by its black tail. Its diet consists of young shoots and leaves, fruit, and grasses. It is thought that this deer shares similar habits with other species of muntjac. It is active during the day and is typically solitary. This species was named after the zoologist Leonardo Fea.
There is debate on the taxonomy of Fea’s muntjac, as well as all muntjac species, because recent studies have not been conducted using the original specimen, or holotype, but only pictures of the skull. Due to sightings of this species in Southwest Asia, more studies are needed to verify that the holotype actually represents the species. Several species from other areas were included in the classification of Fea’s muntjac, although it is known that two of these are distinct species and probable that the others are distinct as well.
It is thought that Fea’s muntjac is threatened mainly by habitat loss and hunting. Although it is a rare species, it is common in protected areas in Thailand, and so in not thought to be endangered in that area of its range and it is not typically hunted there. In Kuiburi National Park, where it commonly occurs at lower elevations, it is thought to have a similar tolerance to hunting as the red muntjac. Both species are often hunted there. In Thanintharyi, or Tensasserim, the habitat is relatively viable, but habitat loss in that region is possible due to increased efforts to convert forestland to oil palm plantation land. Because this is occurring in lowland habitats, species occurring at higher elevations are thought to be safe from the threat of habitat loss through deforestation. However, more information on the distribution of Fea’s muntjac is needed before full threat affects are known.
Because it occurs quite commonly in protected areas, and is typically safe during its breeding season, Fea’s muntjac is not thought to be endangered. In order to define its conservation status, and conduct conservation efforts if necessary, more information is needed about this species and its habits. Fea’s muntjac currently appears on the IUCN Red List with a status of “Data Deficient.”
Image Caption: Muntiacus feae (male) at Dusit Zoo Bangkok. Credit: Mammalwatcher/Wikipedia (CC0 1.0)