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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Capricornis swinhoei
Formosan serow
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Common name:
Scientific name:
Other names:
Formosan serow
Capricornis swinhoei
Taiwan serow, "Taiwan Leiling"

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 80-114 cm
Shoulder height: 50-60 cm
Tail length: 7-12 cm
Adult weight: 17-25 kg, up to 30 kg

The Formosan serow resembles a goral (Naemorhedus) more than other serows, being relatively small and having a short, relatively smooth coat. The body is dark brown, and the underside of the chin and throat are marked with a light-colored bib. The ears are large and unlike other serows there is not an extensive mane on the neck. Both males and females have horns, which are sharply pointed and have only a slight backwards curve. The bottom portion of the horns are ridged.

Similar species
  • In the wild, no similar species share the range of the Formosan serow.
  • The closely-related Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus) is much shaggier than the Formosan serow. All other serow species are much larger and have a shaggy mane on the nape of the neck.
  • Gorals (Naemorhedus sp.) also have a light throat bib, but are generally more grey and not as rich brown in color. Unlike the Formosan serow, gorals do not have preorbital glands in front of their eyes.

Reproduction and Development

Gestation period: 210 days.
Litter size: 1.
Sexual maturity: As early as 16 months.

Breeding usually occurs between September and December, and the young are born after March. Babies can stand and walk the day they are born, and usually follow their mothers closely. They will start to test solid food around one month after birth.

Ecology and Behavior

In undisturbed areas, Formosan serow are most active during the few hours after sunrise and again before sunset. However, in regions with human presence they may become more nocturnal. They are strong mountain climbers and can easily jump at least two meters high - some animals have even been known to climb up into trees! It appears that this species is territorial: marking of trees using the horns and scent-marking with the preorbital glands may define territorial boundaries. When irritated or alarmed, this species stamps its forefeet and may whistle at the same time.

Family group: Solitary.
Diet: Young shoots, leaves, and grasses.
Main Predators: (Formerly the clouded leopard).

Habitat and Distribution

The Formosan serow is endemic to Taiwan, where is inhabits the mountainous region on the eastern half of the island. It can be found in coniferous and mixed deciduous forests, as well as in alpine grasslands and on cliff-tops. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Range Map
(After Chiang and Pei, 2008; localities redrawn from Lue, 1987)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Least Concern (2008).
CITES Listing: Not listed (2009)
Threats: Habitat encroachment by humans, illegal hunting.

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