2019 Volume 7 Issue 1 Pages 11-21
Antler velvet (growing deer antler tissue) is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. In Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare issued a list of four source kinds of deer for antler velvet Cervi cornu pantotrichum in 1971. Since the Japanese sika deer is not listed, distributing antler velvet of Japanese sika deer as Chinese medicine within the Japanese market is prohibited. In this study, we reviewed the scientific names corresponding to the four kinds of deer listed as source animals for antler velvet. We also investigated whether it is possible to utilize the antler velvet of Japanese sika deer, via molecular phylogenetic analysis using mitochondrial DNA control region sequences to reconstruct the genetic relationships between the Japanese sika deer and the four listed deer. We concluded that the four listed deer correspond to Cervus nippon hortulorum, Cervus nippon mantchuricus, Cervus elaphus xanthopygus and Cervus elaphus. Genetic divergence among the four listed deer was of a similar magnitude to that between each of them and the Japanese six sika deer subspecies, suggesting that Japanese sika deer could also be used as a source of antler velvet. We expect that utilization of antler velvet as Chinese medicine would increase capture efforts by raising the resource value of sika deer, and that this may reduce the amount of damage that sika deer are responsible for in Japan.