Przewalskium albirostris is known as "shor" by the Tibetan people. The species was discovered and named by Przewalski during the later 1870's. W. G. Thorold later described the same deer, not knowing that it had already been described, he named it Thorold's deer, Cervus thoroldi, in 1891.
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
According to a team studying in the Tibetan Plateau, numbers of Przewalskium albirostris may be increasing. This team assessed population sizes during the periods of 1990-1992 and 1997. They observed 80-89 deer during September of 1997, compared to only 16 (no more than 50) in early 1990's. This species is otherwise thought to be extremely endangered and rare.
US Federal List: threatened
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
There are no known negative effects of white-lipped deer.
Aside from being hunted as a food source by Chinese and Tibetan peoples, Przewalskium albirostris are poached for their enormous antlers. The antlers and other body parts are used as a source of oriental medicine.
Positive Impacts: food ; source of medicine or drug
White-lipped deer play an important role as prey animals for large predators. They also limit vegetation growth and determine vegetative structure through their grazing.
White-lipped deer are exclusively herbivorous. They graze mainly on grasses but will also eat other foliage. Foods eaten include: grasses mainly Stipa, Kobresia, and Carex spp., sedges and herbs.
Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )
White-lipped deer are native to the Tibetan Plateau region of west central China.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )
Przewalskium albirostris inhabit the high altitude rhododendron and coniferous forests and alpine meadows of the Tibetan Plateau. Rough terrain and areas of high hunting pressure result in a patchy distribution of these deer throughout their preferred habitats.
Range elevation: 3500 to 5000 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; mountains
White-lipped deer have been recorded living 19 years in captivity. Many people in China are raising these deer on farms and they are kept in zoos for public display. Those in the wild may for 16 to 18 years.
Status: wild: 18 (high) years.
Status: captivity: 19 (high) years.
Status: wild: 18.0 years.
White-lipped deer, as their name implies, have a characteristic pure white marking around their mouth and on the underside of the throat. The inner side of the legs and the underside of the body is also a whitish color. The overall coloration is dark brown during the summer and lightens during the winter. The fur, which lacks the typical undercoat hairs, is thick and course. A saddle-like appearance is created on the center of the deer's back, which is caused by the hair lying in the opposite direction. The fur coat is twice as long in the winter as it is during the summer.
Przewalskium albirostris are one of the largest members of the deer family. Unlike other members of the family, P. albirostris have broad rounded hooves much like those of a cow. These hooves are specialized for climbing on steep, rough terrain. Females have a tuft of hair between their narrow, lance shaped ears. The 5 to 6 pointed antler rack of males protrudes forward and is flattened, like those of caribou. The white colored (rarely light brown) rack can weigh up to 7 kilograms and reach l.3 meters.
Range mass: 130 to 140 kg.
Range length: 190 to 200 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; ornamentation
White-lipped deer are herd animals and, therefore, rely upon the vigilance of every herd member in detecting predators. They are fast and agile runners and can defend themselves with their sharp hooves. Female white-lipped deer will attempt to distract predators from their young by causing a disturbance and running away from where the fawn is hidden.
Most of the year, males and females travel in separate herds. During the breeding season, or rut, around October through November, males intermingle with female herds. Mixed herds at the peak of the mating season have been reported to range between 50 and 300 deer. Males expend large amounts of energy during the breeding season in mating and in male-male aggressive encounters. Most males lose weight during this period. Males compete amongst themselves for access to females.
Mating System: polygynous
White-lipped deer are born from May through late June. The well developed baby stays with its mother and is not weaned for at least 10 months.
Breeding interval: White-lipped deer breed once yearly.
Breeding season: White-lipped deer breed in October and November.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Range gestation period: 7.67 to 8.33 months.
Average weaning age: 10 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 15 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 15 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Young white-lipped deer, which are able to stand only a half hour after birth, stay and travel with their mothers in female herds. Two to three days after birth, the mother will take her fawn into a more sheltered area away from the birth place. The baby is left to rest at times but is never out of the mother's sight. If she sees that something is near the baby, the mother will attempt to cause a distraction by running in the opposite direction. After the fawn is weaned at about 10 months of age, it joins the sex-segregated herds. Young males move to the male herd, young females stay in the herd in which they were raised and travel with their mothers, though they are no longer dependent upon them.
Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female)