The following appeared on Discovery News Online, at
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
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
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
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.
Go on to
Return to 7 July 1999 Issue
Return to Newsletters
** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been
specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this
not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the
copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright