Sumatran Serow, Capricornis sumatraensis

The Sumatran serow (Capricornis sumatraensis) is a goat-antelope that is also known as the southern serow. It can be found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia and in Thai-Malay Peninsula. It prefers a habitat within native primary or secondary forests near mountains. It is thought that this species holds seasonal ranges. It feeds during the morning and evenings, resting under overhanging rocks during the rest of the day. The Sumatran serow appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Vulnerable”.

Although there is no recorded information about Sumatran serow populations in Indonesia, it is thought that in areas like Gunung Leuser National Park, populations are thriving. However, in Taratak Forest Reserve, pictures captured by camera trapping showed that the Sumatran serow is rare. One study conducted in Malaysia showed that only thirteen individuals of this species occupied an area of 7.4 acres. Based on this study, it was estimated that between 500 and 700 Sumatran serow inhabit the entire Peninsular Malaysia region.

The major threat for the Sumatran serow in Indonesia is habitat loss, caused by slash-and-burn agricultural practices and logging. Poaching is another common threat, and this species if often caught in traps intended for other creatures. This species is hunted in both protected and unprotected areas, and it is used for food and traditional medicines. In the town of Pancur Batu, located in North Sumatra, the horns of this species are traded openly, and there have been no actions taken against the traders.

In Malaysia, the Sumatran serow is threatened by habitat loss caused by mining, habitat disturbances, logging of forests within its range, and agricultural practices. It is also hunted for meat and for medicinal purposes in this portion of its range. It does seem to be more resilient to human disturbances in this area of its range, and even lives near villages. Poaching has declined in Malaysia, so trade of the species is not conducted openly, unlike in its Sumatran range. However, in unprotected areas of its Malaysian range, it is sold in some restaurants.

The Sumatran serow has been listed as protected in Indonesia since 1932, and 11,904 square miles have been set back for conservation of the species. This area includes two forests, three nature reserves, three national parks, and three game reserves. Even with these areas, without a way to educate humans, the parks are merely listed on paper. There are a number of proposed conservation efforts, including habitat maintenance in the volcanic spine of Sumatra, where forests have remained untouched by roads, mining, and deforestation, and this is thought to be the best method for conservation. Other efforts include conducting surveys of the Barisan mountains in order to assess viability of current and possible populations, maintenance of currently protected areas, and educating humans on the importance of conserving and increasing the Sumatran serow populations.

In Malaysia, the Sumatran serow is protected by the Wildlife Act (76/72) of Peninsular Malaysia, which the Department of Wildlife and National Park’s Enforcement Division upholds. Although it does occur in seven protected areas in this region, these areas are not completely viable for long-term population conservation. There are six other areas which have been considered for legal protection in which this serow occurs. There are a few captive populations reserved for breeding in Zoo Negara and Zoo Melaka. In Malaysia, conservations efforts are similar to those in Indonesia, and include maintaining sustainable populations in protected areas, developing plans to maintain both habitat and populations, and creating successful breeding programs in order to introduce new serows into the wild.

Image Caption: A serow (Capricornis sumatraensis). Picture taken at Dusit Zoo, Bangkok, Thailand. Credit: Melanochromis/Wikipedia