Sunday, 30 March 2014

‘Extinct’ deer found in Vietnam

The Roosevelt muntjac was first discovered in 1929, and was not seen alive again until earlier this year

Roosevelt’s barking deer, or Roosevelt’s muntjac, was first discovered in 1929 by the sons of President Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Jnr and Kermit Roosevelt, in Lao. After that, the animal had never been seen alive again anywhere in the world until a camera trap in Vietnam photographed two of the deer deep in the forest earlier this year, 85 years after its last sighting. 

Images of the deer were taken in the Xuan Lien Nature Reserve, Thanh Hoa province. It was not expected that the camera trap would capture images of the animal as it was thought to be extinct in Vietnam. Prior to this, all records of the species were from Lao PDR only.

In order to confirm that the animal was indeed the rare Roosevelt’s muntjac, a team of researchers from the Centre for Natural Resources and Environment Studies at Vietnam National University collected horn and skin samples from the Reserve, and also found samples from the deer in the homes of local people. The samples were subject to DNA testing, which confirmed the identity of the Roosevelt muntjac.

When the muntjac was discovered in 1929, there was much scepticism and debate about whether the animal was actually a new species previously unknown to science. However in 1999 new evidence came to light after DNA testing of a number of muntjac skulls was carried out, which confirmed the deer’s unique genetic makeup.

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