Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Mouse deer species not seen for nearly 30 years is found alive in Vietnam

Silver-backed chevrotain caught on camera after it was feared lost to science

A distinctly two-tone mouse deer that was feared lost to science has been captured on film foraging for food by camera traps set up in a Vietnamese forest.
Two silver-backed chevrotains
Photograph: Global Widlife Conservation

The pictures of the rabbit-sized animal, also known as the silver-backed chevrotain, are the first to be taken in the wild and come nearly 30 years after the last confirmed sighting.

“We had no idea what to expect, so I was surprised and overjoyed when we checked the camera traps and saw photographs of a chevrotain with silver flanks,” said An Nguyen, a scientist and expedition team leader at Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC).

“Discovering that it is, indeed, still out there is the first step in ensuring we don’t lose it again, and we’re moving quickly now to figure out how best to protect it,” he said.

The silver-backed chevrotain is a half-painted beast. Behind the russet head, neck and front legs lies a silver-grey body and hind legs rounded off by a white, grizzled bottom. Though probably preyed on by leopards, wild dogs and pythons, scientists fear that snares laid by hunters have pushed the species to the brink of extinction. Despite the name, they are neither mice nor deer, but the world’s smallest ungulate, or hoofed animal.

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