Black muntjac (Muntiacus crinifrons)

Black muntjac in captivity
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Black muntjac fact file

Black muntjac description

GenusMuntiacus (1)

A little-known, rare species of deer, the black muntjac (Muntiacus crinifrons) is found only in eastern China (2) (4). The black muntjac has a dark blackish-brown body, with pale orange markings on the ears, sides of the nose and on top of the head. Occasionally the hair on the shoulders may be tinged yellow and the long black tail has a white underside (2). Only the male black muntjac bears antlers (5), which are of a medium size for a muntjac and may have one or two prongs (2).

Also known as
Hairy-fronted muntjac.
Muntjac Noir.
Muntjac Negro.
Head-body length: 98 - 132 cm (2)
Shoulder height: 62 - 78 cm (2)
21 - 28.5 kg (2)

Black muntjac biology

The black muntjac is a very wary animal, which, along with its relatively inaccessible habitat, makes it difficult to study in the wild and thus limited information is available on its biology (6). It is typically solitary, although may be found in small groups (4) (6). It feeds on leaves, twigs, and fruit, which are generally plucked from bushes and low hanging branches, as well as grasses and herbs (1) (2) (4).

The black muntjac gives birth to a single young, known as a fawn, after a gestation period of 210 days (1) (2). The female typically gives birth in dense forest undergrowth, where the young remains hidden until they are capable of moving about with the mother (5). Some females will conceive again whilst still feeding the young fawn (1) (2).


Black muntjac range

The black Muntjac can be found only in eastern China (6), in south-eastern Anhui, northern Fujian, north-eastern Jiangxi and western Zheijiang (1). There are reports of it also living in Yunnan province (southern China) and Myanmar, although it is generally considered that these populations are actually of the closely related Gongshan muntjac (Muntiacus gongshanensis) (1) (2) (7) (8).  


Black muntjac habitat

The black muntjac is restricted to evergreen forest or mixed evergreen and deciduous forest (7), at altitudes between 200 and 1,000 metres (1) (8), preferring areas with high growing grasses (7).


Black muntjac status

The black muntjac is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Black muntjac threats

Numbers of this rare species of deer are falling as a result of a number of threats (1). These include hunting, for its meat and skin (8), and habitat destruction and degradation due to deforestation and the expansion of agricultural practices (1). Domestic dogs, which are known to kill black muntjacs, may also pose a threat in areas where black muntjac populations inhabit areas close to villages (7).

The decline in numbers of this species has led to concerns that a lack of genetic diversity could cause even more problems for its future survival (6).


Black muntjac conservation

The black muntjac is protected in China under Category I of the 1988 Chinese National Wildlife Law (1), and by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that international trade is prohibited (3). It is also likely to occur in some protected areas across its range (1). Research into the genetics of the black muntjac is helping to understand its distribution and possible dispersal in the wild (7), and it has been recommended that future conservation efforts include habitat conservation and restoration and stricter controls to prevent poaching (1).


Find out more

To find out about wildlife conservation in China see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


Deciduous forest
Forest consisting mainly of deciduous trees, which shed their leaves at the end of the growing season.
Genetic diversity
The variety of genes within a particular species, population or breed causing differences in morphology, physiology and behaviour.
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.


  1. IUCN Red List (November 2010)
  2. Smith, A.T. and Xie, Y. (2008) A Guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
  3. CITES (November, 2010)
  4. Hildyard, A. (Ed.) (2001) Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish Corporation, New York.
  5. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  6. Wu, H., Wan, Q. and Fang, S. (2007) Microsatellite analysis of genetic variation and population subdivision for the black muntjac, Muntiacus crinifrons. Biochemistry Genetics, 45: 775-788.
  7. Chen, M., Guo, G., Wu, P. and Zhang, E. (2008) Identification of black muntjac (Muntiacus crinifrons) in Tibet, China by cytochrome b analysis. Conservation Genetics, 9: 1287-1291.
  8. Rabinowitz, A. and Khaing, S.T. (1998) Status of selected mammal species in North Myanmar. Oryx, 32(3): 201-208.

Image credit

Black muntjac in captivity  
Black muntjac in captivity

© Gerald Cubitt

Gerald Cubitt
Tel: +27 (21) 685-1552


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