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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Chinese Serow
Fig 1
ゥ  Greg McCann
Fig 2
  ゥ  Greg McCann
Fig 3











Family : Bovidae
Species : Capricornis milneedwardsii

Shoulder Height : up to 94 cm
Head-body Length : up to 155 cm
Tail : up to 16 cm
Weight : up to 160 kg

Serow are a type of ungulate (i.e. hoofed mammal) which are somewhat goat-like in appearance. They inhabit hilly or rugged, mountainous areas with steep slopes and rocky outcrops up to 4500 metres elevation. Such habitat, which may offer sanctuary from predators such as big cats, typically occurs in areas dominated by limestone karst.

Streams can be scarce in limestone hills, so the search for water may be one factor which forces serow to descend to lower slopes with more gentle gradients. Serow are also documented as swimming between isolated limestone islands.

Serow are secretive and mainly solitary in habits, and typically remain hidden in thick forest by day. Their food preference, however, includes  
tender, young leaves and shoots and the presence of fresh growth may draw them out into the open to feed.

IUCN currently recognise 6 species of serow in the genus Capricornis, of which three occur in Southeast Asia - the Chinese Serow (or Southwest China Serow), Red Serow and Southern Serow.

The typical Chinese Serow has dark grey to black fur, with pale bases which gives a greyish, grizzled appearance. The lower parts of its front and hind legs is brownish, reddish or pale in colour.  It has a short mane and short beard, both of which may be greyish to white. Fur colour may vary significantly between individuals and between populations.

Its body is stout with legs long, and the neck is short and thick. Its horns are short, backward-curving horns, and are ringed or corrugated. It has long, erect ears (typically longer than the horns). About 4 cm in front of the eyes are a pair of glands. The tail is short.

The Chinese Serow occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and parts of southern China.

The species is threatened by forest loss and  hunting, and increasingly occurs in isolated, fragmented populations.

Figs 1 and 2 : Typical example of Chinese Serow, recorded by an automatic trail camera at Virachey National Park, Cambodia. 
Photos thanks to Greg McCann.

Fig 3 : Example of forested habitat on steep, karst limestone hills on Cat Ba Island, Vietnam.  Chinese Serow numbers on this island have been depleted by illegal hunting.

References : M3, M5

Links :

HabitatID, Virachey National Park