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Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
7 July 1999 Issue

Scents May Snuff Out Musk Deer

The following appeared on Discovery News Online, at www.Discovery.com:

The use of scent glands from musk deer to manufacture some of the world's most expensive perfumes is threatening the species with extinction, says a report released Monday by an environmental group.

According to a report by Traffic-Europe, the trade monitoring arm of the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Union, prices of around $21,000 per pound of wild musk are driving legal and illegal trade worldwide, London's Electronic Telegraph reports Tuesday.

Musk deer are small, solitary animals found in the mountainous forests of Asia and eastern Russia. The U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species forbids all international trade involving musk deer populations in Afghanistan, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.

Under CITES, limited trade is allowed involving all other musk deer populations.

Raw musk comes from the animal's scent sac, or pod, found close to the male deer's genitals, says the Telegraph. Although the strong-smelling substance can be extracted from live animals, most deer are killed in the process.

Traffic estimates that 160 deer are killed for 2 pounds of the reddish-brown secretion, the Telegraph reports.

Traffic says musk trade for perfumes and traditional Chinese medicines has
triggered a sharp decline in the animal's numbers. The world's musk deer
population is currently estimated to be between 400,000 and 800,000 animals, says the Telegraph.

"In Europe alone, the amount of raw musk legally imported in the past decade represents the loss of tens of thousands of musk deer, and imports seem to be increasing," says Stuart Chapman, international conservation officer for WWF.

It's difficult to ascertain which perfume makers use natural musk, because most top French manufacturers don't label their product ingredients.

But musk certainly used to be an ingredient of Chanel No 5, Guerlain's L'Heure Bleu and Rochas's Madame Rochas, a leading deer expert tells the Telegraph.

No spokesman from Chanel, which remains highly reticent about its use of
natural musk, was available for comment Monday.

However, the Guerlain company confirms using less than 4.5 pounds, and
Rochas 4 to 7 pounds a year, the Telegraph reports.

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