Musk deer: the smell of an angel, demon fangs.

In Sayan, Altai Mountains and the Baikal region of Primorye funny animal lives — musk. The Latin name of the musk deer Moschus moschiferus means "giving musk." Musk — animal produkt.Iz-this accords with the word "nutmeg", many people think that Musk — is nut. Or resin, or a piece of fruit, or eastern spice. In fact, the word comes from the ancient Indian musk «muskah» — «egg." Musk deer — artiodactyls, similar to miniature deer, so sometimes it is called a deer with a rock flavor, and more — musky sheep. Musk deer looks awkward and clumsy: the rear part of the body is massive, and the hind legs are much longer than the front. Musk deer — a single animal. 

Canines of male musk deer give the appearance of animal menacing look, but in reality musk deer eat only vegetarian food.

Article under the cut ..

Text: Vladimir Prikhodko Photos: Valery Maleev


The spine is very flexible musk deer — an animal easily stands on its hind legs to get a tree lichen — usneyu.

Author: Valery Maleev


Canines musk deer provoked legends about the terrible reindeer vampire. In fact, musk deer eats only lichens.

Author: Valery Maleev


In the first two weeks after the birth of calves away from the mother, retire and spend all the time in shelters.

Author: Valery Maleev



The Princess and the Pea. Among environmental organizations musk is no less controversial than the tusks of elephants or tigers skins. One of the male musk deer for the year formed a maximum of 20 grams of musk. According to our estimates (Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences), legal and illegal exports of musk from Russia over a 16-year period (1990 to 2006) was 820 pounds, and the turnover — 41 million U.S. dollars.

 So, to provide a huge market, only in Russia every year to kill two and a half millennia of male musk deer. At the beginning of XX century it became clear: both humans and animal profitable truss selection and breeding of musk deer musk from live males. But breed musk deer was not as easy as cows or sheep. Musk deer are extremely fussy, it requires a person to create his special, extremely comfortable environment. First, musk deer scare easily. When the danger (for example, when meeting with a man) musk deer prefers to flee. The escape distance of 50-60 meters — having run that distance, musk makes the first stop. If the cage is not big enough, musk deer may crash with a run into the fence and get a serious head injury. Adult females are the most fearful, and the coolest — the two-year males. In any case, cages for breeding should be spacious, length 100 and a width of 70 meters.

Secondly, musk deer blind loves dark coniferous forests. The family kabargovyh separated from the common trunk of cloven-hoofed animals 26 million years ago in the vast Central Asian countries. The first mention of musk deer in the kingdom Erginul (in present-day China), we find at the Venetian merchant Marco Polo in the XIII century: "The animal with the gazelle, wool … it is thick like a deer, legs like a gazelle horns … no." Musk deer is like a gazelle, not only the size of the deer in the same subtlety and fearful. Schall better soothe the nerves in the shadow of the forest — shady areas are best suited to relieve stress. Consequently, for the musk deer in captivity need to arrange shrubs, tall grasses and create tents from spruce twigs, in which the animal can retire.


But that’s not all: the conscientious breeder has to arrange imitation rocks in the enclosure: Musk deer are often saved from the enemies on the ledge of the cliff. This behavioral trait used for catching "the fatal deer": a dog chase the poor animal until it climbs on a rocky ledge. As the musk deer hiding on the same ledge for many years, on top of a frightened animal can safely wait catcher with a loop — success guaranteed him.



The third condition, delivered musk deer — a special food. A friend of mine told me a trip to the Altai it scared the locals, saying that is found in the forest musk deer, "a special kind of deer, which grow huge fangs and feeds on carrion and human flesh."

Canines of male musk deer, of course, give the appearance of animal menacing look, but in reality, musk deer, as befits a herbivore, eating only vegetarian food. In the long course of evolution adapted musk deer eat lichens. In winter, when there is no other food, the proportion of wood and terrestrial lichens in the diet of a deer is 95 percent. As is often the case, the animal is addicted to lichens of necessity, but now without them can not live.

The fourth distinctive feature of a deer with a fatal odor — the relationship between males and females. Musk deer produces two types of couples. One of them — a conservative and archaic — the union of a young adult male and female. The second type of union: a pair of young individuals. It is these families persist throughout the life of the animals. Adult animals are the same age-violent conflict and even arrange fights. This also complicates the breeding of musk deer.

But the males of each year to entice females to mate. This problem is successfully solved by the delectable smell. On the abdomen of males near the urogenital canal is the musk gland — a pouch in which the synthesized black fragrant grain of musk. In winter, during the rut, the males leave odorous marks everywhere. Intoxicated female flock like moths to the smell, flavor is so strong that even stimulates estrus.

Everything else, immediately after the birth of cubs away from their mother and hide in the scrubby bushes: try to tame offspring that eschews his own mother.

Realizing that the domestication of the musk deer is extremely difficult, if not impossible, we zoologists understand: do not look for much. Taming the musk deer will, at best, to a reduction in defensive distance with respect to the person.

Magic powder. Yet the resulting musk justify consuming breeding musk deer. The man praised the beauty of this amazing substance and discovered its healing properties are still 5,000 years ago. The Tibetan and Chinese medicine, musk was used long before the birth of Christ. German scholar F. Hubotter wrote in 1913: "He spicy, warm, fragrant, gives a sense of lightness, penetrates the meat and kidney, has a rapid effect on all types of gases, pneumatic and blood, relieves pain, increases all the orifices of the body, opens the veins . It cures shyness dissipates poisons and kills worms, helps with fever, runny nose and deafness. "

During the reign of the Tang Dynasty (VIII century BC. E.) Musk becomes very fashionable in China: it is used even to impart a pleasant odor of the exhibition.

Chinese musk glands were introduced to the Arab world, the Arabs, in turn, shared the "musky secret" with the Europeans. A substance having a specific biological purpose — to contribute to the growth of musk deer, it was magic powder, the cure of all diseases.

In the Middle Ages, musk used as a preventive and therapeutic agent during epidemics of cholera and the plague. In the era of the kings of England Tudor musk added to the cure of melancholy. European physicians until the mid XIX century, musk prescribed for impotence, paralysis, neurological disorders, infectious diseases, asthma, as an anticonvulsant for epilepsy and various smooth muscles in spasm, cramps, as well as to promote abor
tion and the evil eye.


We need him alive. And today, musk deer musk — one of the most effective components of medications. In the musk perfume valued because of its ability to fix the smells, even though it has its own tart flavor. But to meet the natural musk is possible only in the expensive Chanel, Givenchy, Guerlain, Rochasa. The most common use of artificially synthesized compounds with a musky smell and the so-called herbal musk — Egyptian rose essential oil that can capture the flavors. The decline in popularity of musk perfumers is simple: it is very expensive. In 2007, the purchase price of the musk Siberian musk deer hunters reached 09.12 U.S. dollars per gram.

Technology for the production of odorous material from living male was first developed by Russian scientists in the 50s of the last century. In the musk gland duct tube was inserted, and then press down on the bag and the jet secret jetted out. This was a good way to get a pasty musk young males, but concentrated mature grain of adults (most valuable) "squeeze" through the tube impossible. On Chinese farms musk squeeze, tentatively making the animal a local anesthetic. The selection is pretty rough and leads to necrosis of the musk gland, to stop its secretion, causing stress and even death of the animal. Our technology is designed for scientific and experimental basis "Chernogolovka", near Moscow, to disastrous consequences does not. The secret is that before removing the male musk introduced a solution of ketamine and xylazine — substances that block the activity of the cerebellum and cortex of the brain. It is shallow sleep, total immobility and loss of sensation. Then, carefully, so as not to damage the inner lining cancer, the precious substance extracted a small spoon. The average weight of the material collected from a single male — 6.31 grams.

Save the musk deer. The first attempts to content musk deer in captivity have been made in the XVIII century. Known case of detention of musk sheep in France, in Versailles menagerie (1772). In London Zoo musk deer was delivered in 1869, but due to lack of shelters and improper feeding died seven months later. Duke of Bedford Uobern Abbey bred musk deer on his property, and even got the first litter. But all the animals at Duke have not taken root and soon died.

In the XX century, the human animal is stubborn persistence prevailed. Before World War II breeding musk deer has been established in the Altai Nature Reserve, and later — in the nature reserve "Pillars". Now musk feels great on farms in Russia, China and India.

The main exporters of dry musk — Russia and China. But the volume of material produced on farms in China is still extremely small: only 6 kilograms of musk per year. So the secret of the world market, "the fatal deer" in the beginning of the XXI century is totally dependent on supplies from Russia. It is clear that the destruction of the musk deer is almost impossible to stop: the protests of environmentalists is nothing compared to the pressure of commercial organizations that sell musk and skin musk deer, used to make excellent suede.

In general, the existence of the musk deer is under threat from the XIX century. In Russia only in 1855 was harvested 81.2 thousand musk glands. In 1845, the number of musk deer in the Russian part of the range of 250 thousand. And in the first third of the XX century — was less than 10,000. In the postwar years, the number of musk deer restored and expanded the area until the early 1990s, when the demand for musk rose sharply. A significant portion of odorous product was extracted and exported illegally from Russia via the Far East. The case was a very profitable: in 25 glands in 1992 in the port of Nakhodka, you could buy a used foreign car. By 2011, the illegal export of musk gained momentum. Musk deer exterminated even under the guise of environmental impact assessment. His contribution to the reduction in the number of "fatal deer" make and forest fires.

We can only contribute to the development of farming in Russia: the musk deer breeding seems to us a promising and relevant for the economy and for the preservation of the species.


Like this post? Please share to your friends: