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12 Nov, 2019 11:47

Beautiful, silvery ‘mouse deer’ rediscovered in Vietnam after no sightings for almost 30yrs

A small, deer-like animal thought to have been extinct has been spotted for the first time in three decades in the northwestern jungle of Vietnam, providing hope that reports of the animal’s demise may have been overstated.

There had been no confirmed sightings of the silver-backed chevrotain or ‘mouse deer’ since 1990. But Vietnamese biologist An Nguyen along with colleagues Barney Long and Andrew Tilker refused to give up on the ungulate from the species, Tragulus versicolor. The mouse deer boast two-tone coloration and grey hairs tipped with white and are about 18 inches (45 centimeters) tall.


The team interviewed locals in three different provinces, based on the last sighting reports of the creatures from the late eighties, before installing more than 30 motion-activated cameras for a period of six months. What they found astounded them.

“The results were amazing. I was overjoyed when we checked the camera traps and saw photographs of a chevrotain with silver flanks,” said Nguyen.

Beautiful, silvery ‘mouse deer’ rediscovered in Vietnam after no sightings for almost 30yrs

All told, the team recorded 208 independent sightings of the silver-backed chevrotain, with just over half of their motion-activated stations recording the beautiful, not-so-lost creatures in their natural habitat.

Based on the team’s albeit small scale study, the creatures are largely solitary, with sightings of pairs only accounting for three percent of overall sightings. The team is preaching caution, however.

“[J]ust because we found this species relatively easily doesn’t mean it is not threatened… In an age of mass extinctions, confirming the survival of lost species provides rare second chances for biodiversity conservation,” they said

The team’s findings were published Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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