Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Observations: Little is known about the longevity of these animals. It has been suggested that they live up to 14 years in the wild (David Macdonald 1985).
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Untitled

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Individuals live to an age of 11-13 years. (Nowak 1999)

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Behavior

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Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Conservation Status

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Overall numbers of this species are currently decreasing due to hunting by humans and habitat destruction for timber resources. It is unlikely that this species will survive the habitat destruction it currently faces. This species is classified as near threatened by the IUCN and the species is also listed under appendix III of CITES in Ghana.

(Kingdon 1979, Grubb 1993)

CITES: appendix iii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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H. aquaticus occupies tropical rain forests which are utilized by humans as a source of timber. Although currently classifies as near threatened, the protection of this species could cause negative economic effects to timber harvesters.

(Robin 1990)

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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The water chevrotain is avidly hunted by humans. (Nowak 1999)

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Trophic Strategy

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This species is primarily herbivorous, feeding on the leaves, fruits, and buds of trees and shrubs. It has occasionally been observed eating insects, crustaceans and even small mammals. Like many herbivores, the water chevrotain has various adaptations to facilitate effective digestion of its low-nutrient diet. Chevrotains are considered to be true ruminants, with a 4-chambered ruminating stomach.

(Robin 1990, Dubost 1984)

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Distribution

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The African chevrotain, also known as the water chevrotain, is endemic to tropical regions of the African continent. While its range is primarily restricted to coastal regions, this species occurs from Sierra Leone to western Uganda.

(Robin 1990, Nowak 1999)

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Habitat

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The African chevrotain can be found in tropical rain forests and thickets rarely more than 250 m away from water. At night, chevrotains can be observed in exposed clearings and open river banks but during the day, the animal cannot be found outside of the dense forest.

(Robin 1990, Kingdon 1979)

Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest ; scrub forest

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Life Expectancy

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Average lifespan
Status: wild:
13.0 years.

Average lifespan
Status: wild:
14.0 years.

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Morphology

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The water chevrotain is a small animal that resembles a deer (Cervidae). This species is larger than its Asian counterparts, maintaining a size similar to a rabbit. The water chevrotain has a body length of between 45 and 85 cm and a tail length ranging from 7.5 to 17 cm. Animals of this species weigh 7-15 kg, however, the average weight for males is only 9.7 kg, whereas females average 12 kg. The weight at birth is unknown.

Hyemoschus aquaticus has a small, pointed head and a stocky body set on slender, delicate legs. The rear of the body is wedge-shaped and slightly raised relative to the rest of the body. Neither sex has antlers, but males of the species have well developed sharp tusks that extend below the lips of the animal.

The pelage has stripes and spots that camouflage the animal within the shaded areas of the forest. The water chevrotain has white stripes on its head and neck and a white underside to its tail. It has large eyes, slit-like nostrils and medium-sized ears.

(Robin 1990, Nowak 1999)

Range mass: 7 to 15 kg.

Average mass: 9.7-12 kg.

Range length: 45 to 85 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; ornamentation

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Reproduction

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When a female enters estrus, she is courted by the male who follows her movements and makes vocalizations. The cry of the male stops the female's movement, at which point the male licks her genital area. This pattern is repeated over some time. The male mounts the female by laying his body over hers and copulation takes place.

The gestation period is 6 to 9 months, and females give birth to one young a year. Due to the presence of four mammae in the females of this species, researchers suggest that they are capable of larger litters. Water chevrotains give birth to precocial young, capable of standing within an hour after birth. Females spend most of their day apart from their young and meet only to suckle them. Lactation lasts 3-6 months and the young disperse from the mother's home range when they reach sexual maturity (between 9 and 26 months).

(Nowak 1999, Kingdon 1979)

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

Average gestation period: 175 days.

Average number of offspring: 1.25.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male:
403 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female:
403 days.

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Edwards, H. 2000. "Hyemoschus aquaticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hyemoschus_aquaticus.html
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Helen Edwards, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Biology

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Water chevrotains are, except for during the mating season, solitary animals (3), with females inhabiting isolated home ranges and male ranges overlapping those of at least two females (2). Ranges are marked with faeces impregnated with anal gland secretions, and urine (3). Shy and secretive animals, water chevrotains are mostly active at night and are never found without the protection of dense cover in the day (2) (3). Their small size makes them fairly easy prey for a number of predators; when threatened the chevrotain either stands motionless amongst vegetation, or can dive into water (2). As its name suggests, it is capable in water, but can only swim for short periods before tiring (2) (3). Fallen fruits, such as figs, palm nuts and breadfruit make up the majority of the water chevrotain's diet, although it has also been known to feed on insects, crabs, scavenged meat and fish. It relies on its sense of smell to locate food (2), and being ruminants, they have a gut modified to ferment the food (3) A single young is born each year after a gestation of around four months. The young chevrotain lies up for the first three months of its life, receiving frequent nourishment from its mother's milk during periodic visits (2). At around nine months, the young are weaned and disperse from their mother's range. While water chevrotains are believed to be able to live for up to 13 years, few survive beyond eight years of age (2).
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Conservation

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A Conservation Action Plan for deer species was published by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Deer Specialist Group in 1998. The primary measure outlined for the water chevrotain was to undertake further research to determine the species' status in the wild (5). The water chevrotain is also known to occur in a number of protected areas, such as Okapi Faunal Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (6). However, protecting the water chevrotain from the significant threat of bushmeat hunting is unlikely to occur through these measures alone; it is a complex issue requiring a diversity of approaches, including education, the implementation and enforcement of laws, and anti-poaching operations (7).
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Description

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Chevrotains, also known as mouse deer, are the intermediates in appearance between pigs and deer (3). The water chevrotain has, like the other three chevrotain species, a compact body with a short, thick neck and small, narrow head. The limbs appear short and thin in relation to its bulky body, and its feet resemble miniature pig's trotters. The sleek coat of the water chevrotain is reddish-brown marked with distinctive white streaks and bold spots, and the tail reveals a vivid white underside when raised. Dense, thick skin on the rump and throat protect it from bites from the sharp canines of other water chevrotains (2); the canine teeth of the male are long and protrude outside the mouth, while those of the female are more peg-like. Male water chevrotains are smaller than females, weighing about 20 percent less (3).
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Habitat

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The water chevrotain inhabits river valleys within lowland rainforest, along the edges of swamps and streams (2), usually within 250 metres of freshwater (5).
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Range

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Occurs in western and central Africa rain forests, from Guinea to Gabon, and east to western Uganda (2) (4).
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Status

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Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Threats

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Hunting has reduced numbers of the water chevrotain in many parts of its range (2), particularly in Gabon where it is hunted intensively by local people for food (5). The water chevrotain is also known to be affected by human disturbance, such as expanding agriculture, and animals leaving disturbed areas are unlikely to survive (2).
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Water chevrotain

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The water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus), also known as the fanged deer, is a small ruminant found in tropical Africa. It is the largest of the 10 species of chevrotains, basal even-toed ungulates which are similar to deer, but are barely larger than small dogs.

Description

 src=
Skull of a water chevrotain

Unusually for most mammals, female water chevrotains are larger than males. On average, they weigh over 2 kg more than the 10-kg males. Their body length is about 85 cm, and their shoulder height is around 35 cm. Water chevrotains have a rich, sleek, red-brown coat on top, and the underside of the coat is white. On the body is a pattern of white stripes that runs horizontally from the shoulder to the tail, with vertical rows of white stripes in the back. The chin, throat, and chest are covered in very coarse hair with a pattern of white V shapes. The back end of the water chevrotain has many powerful muscles and is higher than the shoulders, which makes the body slope down toward the front. The head is held down toward the ground while walking, which allows the water chevrotain to navigate easily through thickets of dense brush. A layer of thick, reinforced skin is on the dorsal surface, which protects the back from injuries caused by the thick brush. The legs look short and thin compared to the bulky body, and the hooves are similar to a pig's. The tail is short with a fluffy white underside that resembles a cotton ball.[2]

Distribution and habitat

The water chevrotain is endemic to the tropical regions of Africa. While it primarily lives in the coastal regions, the species can be found from Sierra Leone to western Uganda.[3] They can be found in closed-canopy, moist, tropical lowland forest, and within this habitat, they only occupy areas within close range to streams or rivers. The area is rarely inhabited by the species if it is further than 250 m away from water. During the day, chevrotains cannot be found outside of the dense forest, but at night, they can be observed in exposed clearings and open river banks.[2]

Behavior

The water chevrotain is exclusively nocturnal, and forages for food in clearings at night. Fallen fruits, such as figs, palm nuts, and breadfruit make up the majority of the water chevrotain's diet, although it has also been known to feed on insects, crabs, and scavenged meat and fish, and is the only species of chevrotain known to do so. It relies on its sense of smell to locate food.[4] During the day, the water chevrotain hides in the dense cover of the African brush. The resting postures of the species include lying down and sitting up. Because they are such a solitary species, the interactions between water chevrotains are only antagonistic and reproductive encounters. Males fight other males, mainly over territory. Their fights are typically short, and in them the two competing males run at each other, mouths open. They poke each other with their muzzles and bite. These aggressive fights are thought to be the reason that mature males normally live no closer than several kilometers apart. The water chevrotain makes several different noises, which include a scream when injured/wounded and an alarm bark. When females fight, they make a high-pitched chattering noise, and when pursuing a female, a male makes a noise through a closed mouth.[2]

Conservation status

The total population of the water chevrotain species estimated to be around 278,000. The ICUN Red List has given the status least concern to the water chevrotain. Because of its solitary nature, very little about its population in each individual country is known, but recent evidence shows the population is declining in some areas.[5]

References

  1. ^ IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). "Hyemoschus aquaticus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2009.old-form url
  2. ^ a b c "Hyemoschus aquaticus". Ungulates of the World. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Hyemoschus aquaticus". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  4. ^ Kingdon, J. (1997) The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London.
  5. ^ IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). "Hyemoschus aquaticus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2013.old-form url
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Water chevrotain: Brief Summary

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The water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus), also known as the fanged deer, is a small ruminant found in tropical Africa. It is the largest of the 10 species of chevrotains, basal even-toed ungulates which are similar to deer, but are barely larger than small dogs.

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