12 November 2019 10:37
The silver-backed chevrotain, a deer-like species around the size of a rabbit, has a silver sheen, and has been hanging on in a region of the country ravaged by poachers. Also called the Vietnamese mouse-deer, the animal was last recorded in 1990, and is the first mammal to be rediscovered on the Global Wildlife Conservation's (GWC) list of top 25 most wanted lost species. The silver-backed chevrotain has a silver sheen, and has been hanging on in a region of the country ravaged by poachers (Picture: AFP) However, since 1990, no scientifically validated sightings have been confirmed, and it was feared that high levels of snare hunting in the region may have pushed this species to the brink of extinction. An Nguyen, associate conservation scientist for GWC and expedition team leader, said: '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. The Tragulus versicolor was first described in 1910, based on specimens obtained near the city of Nha Trang, Vietnam (Picture: AFP) Mr Nguyen's colleagues conducted interviews with local people in three Vietnamese provinces to identify chevrotain sightings consistent with descriptions of the silver-backed chevrotain in an effort to locate the species.
The field team then set three camera traps for five months in an area of southern Vietnam where locals indicated they may have seen the animal, resulting in 275 photos of the species. The team then set up another 29 cameras in the same area, this time recording 1,881 photographs of the chevrotain over five months. It was feared that high levels of snare hunting in the region may have pushed this species to the brink of extinction (Picture: AFP) Hoang Minh Duc, head of the Southern Institute of Ecology's Department of Zoology, said: 'The rediscovery of the silver-backed chevrotain provides big hope for the conservation of biodiversity, especially threatened species, in Vietnam.' An elusive fanged mouse-deer thought to be "lost to science" for nearly 30 years has been caught on camera in Vietnam, according to an article published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. The rediscovery of the silver-backed chevrotain, also called the Vietnamese mouse-deer, has sparked researchers to "urge immediate conservation actions to ensure its survival." Despite its deceiving nickname, chevrotains are the planet's smallest hoofed mammals — not mice or deer, according to a Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) press release. The shy and solitary animals appear to walk on the tips of their hooves, boast two tiny fangs, and usually weigh less than 10 pounds.
They then placed three camera traps over a period of five months at locations in Southern Vietnam where the animal may have been seen. The cameras snapped 275 pictures of the species, so the team went back and set up an additional 29 cameras in the same area, GWC reported. The find has sparked calls for expanded conservation efforts to protect the species, which has survived despite poaching in the region. "It is an amazing feat to go from complete lack of knowledge of the wildlife of the Greater Annamites 25 years ago, to now having this question mark of the silver-backed chevrotain resolved," said Barney Long, GWC senior director of species conservation. "But the work is only beginning with the rediscovery and initial protection measures that have been put in place — now we need to identify not just a few individuals on camera trap, but one or two sites with sizable populations so that we can actually protect and restore the species." In 2017 and 2018, biologists set camera traps in Vietnam's coastal forests to potentially spot the evasive species, not seen in 29 years.
Researchers from Global Wildlife Conservation, working with the Southern Institute of Ecology, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, and the local community, captured 275 photos of the mouse deer, formally called the Silver-backed Chevrotain. These are the first photos of the chihuahua-sized species alive in the wild, animals first described by scientists in 1910, but last seen in 1990. "They're pretty elusive," said Andrew Tilker, Global Wildlife Conservation's Asian species officer. While there's now proof the mouse deer lives, this doesn't mean the population — vulnerable to habitat encroachment like any wild species — is well-numbered or healthy. Image: SOUTHERN INSTITUTE OF ECOLOGY / GLOBAL WILDLIFE CONSERVATION / LEIBNIZ INSTITUTE FOR ZOO AND WILDLIFE RESEARCH / NCNP But little-seen creatures like the mouse deer are out there, persisting — as long as their wild homes remain untrammeled. silver-backed chevrotain is spotted by a camera trap on June 21, 2018 (Source: AFP/VNA) – For the first time in almost three decades, the silver-backed chevrotain or mouse deer that is thought to be on the verge of extinction has been spotted in a jungle in Vietnam.According to a study published on November 11 in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the species, Tragulus versicolor, was last recorded in 1990 when Vietnamese and Russian researchers obtained a specimen killed by a hunter.Recently, based on information from local residents, scientists set camera traps for five months in a jungle area near the central coastal city of Nha Trang, resulting in 275 photos of the species. Later, they set up another 29 cameras in the same area, recording 1,881 photos of the chevrotain over five months.The silver-backed chevrotain is among the top 25 most wanted lost species in the Search for Lost Species of the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) report.Despite their common English names, chevrotains are neither mice nor deer, but the world's smallest ungulates (hoofed mammals). Chevrotains typically weigh less than 5kg.The animal was first described in 1910 when four individuals were found near Nha Trang. The fifth individual was collected from a hunter in central Vietnam in 1990.According to Andrew Tilker, Asian species officer at GWC, there is very little information about this animal.