Rare Forest-Dwelling Mouse Deer Photographed After Disappearing For Decades

Around the world, approximately 80% of land-dwelling species call forests home.

Around the world, approximately 80% of land-dwelling species call forests home. With forests in steady decline, concerns about wildlife biodiversity have plagued conservation groups. Protecting the world’s forests plays a crucial role in saving endangered and rare, “lost” species.

Due to habitat loss, some animals that were already challenging enough to find have become even more so, but officials in Vietnam recently made a discovery that gives hope to the future of a very rare forest-dwelling species.

Related blog: Are there more trees today than 100 years ago?

For 30 years, the silver-backed chevrotain, sometimes called the Vietnam mouse deer, eluded scientists and conservation groups. First discovered in 1910, the deer has only been spotted 5 times, most recently in 1990. But the rare deer-like species has finally made an appearance.

According to Global Wildlife Conservation, images of the silver-backed chevrotain were taken by wildlife “trap cameras.” These cameras took several photos of the rabbit-sized animal.

“For so long this species has seemingly only existed as part of our imagination,” said An Nguyen, a conservation scientist at the Liebniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. “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.”

The rediscovery of the silver-backed chevrotain provides big hope for the conservation of biodiversity, especially threatened species, in Vietnam,” said Hoang Minh Duc, the head of Vietnam’s Southern Institute of Ecology’s Department of Zoology.

“This also encourages us, together with relevant and international partners, to devote time and effort to further investigation and conservation of Vietnam’s biodiversity heritage.”

The silver-backed chevrotain is known to be present only in Vietnam. It is a poorly-known species due to its rarity. Scientists are unclear if the animal is under threat of extinction or if it simply has a small, mostly unexplored range. It is one of 25 “most wanted lost species” that Global Wildlife Conservation focuses on finding.

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