History of Chinese Water Deer

Chinese Water Deerare different to many deer species in that they have no antlers and have downward pointing tusks - this and other characteristics have led to Chinese Water Deer being assigned their own genus (Hydropotes). Water Deer are Native to China and Korea and are classified in two distinct subspecies: the Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis inermis) and the Korean Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus). The CWDF is mainly concerned with the former.

The population in China is considered to be 'Vulnerable' and in fact there may soon be more Chinese Water Deer in the UK than in their native China. The species was introduced to Woburn Park, Bedfordshire, England at the end of the nineteenth century.  It bred well and was moved to other collections.  Escapes and releases resulted in the current wild population, which occurs primarily in eastern England, but has the potential to spread over much of lowland southern Britain.

As a non-native species, following the principles of the Bern Convention, the UK Government is already considering risk management options to prevent further spread and deliberate introductions outside the current distributional range. So far its impacts on native biodiversity and agriculture have been negligible though Chine Water Deer are increasingly implicated in road traffic accidents.

As a conservation issue, the UK population of Chinese Water Deer is considered to be of exceptionally high value to the survival of a healthy global population