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article imageLittle-known mouse deer, thought to be extinct, caught on film

By Karen Graham     Nov 11, 2019 in Science
With so many stories of animals going extinct these days it's rare to get some good news. But, a tiny rabbit-sized creature, known as a mouse deer, has been photographed in the wild for the first time in three decades in southern Vietnam.
After talks with villagers and forest rangers near the beach city of Nha Trang who said they may have seen the tiny animals, conservationists set up camera-traps in a Vietnamese forest for five months.
The team ended up with 275 photos of the animal. Another 29 cameras were set up in the same area of forest, and after five more months, 1,881 photos were recorded of the elusive mouse deer or silver-backed chevrotain.
The small deer-like creatures were last seen in the early 1990s and were feared to have been wiped out by extensive land clearing and poaching across its known habitat.
“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), reports The Guardian.
“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.
Despite being called a mouse deer, the chevrotain is neither a rodent or a deer. The chevrotain belongs to a species of animals called ungulates or hoofed animals. They make up the family Tragulidae, the only members of the order Tragulina.
The 10 extant species are placed in three genera and are found in forests in South and Southeast Asia, with a single species in the rainforests of Central and West Africa.
A chevrotain or Lesser mouse-deer (Tragulus kanchil) roaming almost freely about in the Singapore Zo...
A chevrotain or Lesser mouse-deer (Tragulus kanchil) roaming almost freely about in the Singapore Zoo.
Uspn (Bjørn Christian Tørrissen) CC BY-SA 3.0
Chevrotains are the smallest hoofed mammals in the world. The Asian species weigh between 0.7 and 8.0 kilograms (1.5 and 17.6 pounds), while the African chevrotain is considerably larger at 7–16 kilograms (15–35 pounds).
The tiny animal is quite beautiful, with a russet head, neck and front legs. The rest of its body and hind legs are covered in silver-grey and rounded off by a white, grizzled bottom. They are probably prey to leopards, wild dogs and pythons, but it is the snares laid by hunters that have taken them to near extinction.
Scientists had thought the tiny creature, which had been among a list of 25 “most wanted” lost species compiled by Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) were forever lost. Details of the rediscovery were published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
More about mouse deer, silverbacked chevrotain, Vietnam, Global Wildlife Conservation, ungulate
 
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