Rare deer spotted for first time in three decades

Posted on 13 November 2019

For the first time in almost 30 years a very rare species of deer has been spotted in the northwestern jungles of Vietnam. The chevrotain, also known as a mouse deer, is about the size of rabbit, weighs around 4kg and its coat has a silver sheen running down the length of its back.

This species of deer was first documented in 1910 when several mouse deer were found living near Nha Trang, a small town about 450km northeast of the city Ho Chi Minh City. However, there have been no confirmed sightings of the mouse deer since 1990, which led experts to believe the species had gone extinct either through deforestation or through excessive hunting.

(Image: Dan Butcher/Twitter)

All that changed when An Nguyen, an associate conservation scientist for the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), and his colleagues Barney Long and Andrew Tilker got together with local villagers to sift through reported sightings of the animal.

A large number of the reported sightings of the deer were consistent enough to justify putting up more than 30 motion-activated cameras near the forested habitats, and it paid off.

(Image: Aisling Cullen/Twitter)

‘The results were amazing. I was overjoyed when we checked the camera traps and saw photographs of a chevrotain with silver flanks,’ said Nguyen, speaking to Nature Ecology & Evolution journal.

Now that the team know the species of deer still exists, their next objective is to determine how large and stable the population is. Currently, there are 10 known species of chevrotain in the wild, all primarily from Asia.

Feature image: Rehan M.R Arshad/Twitter

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