The recent rediscovery of a small animal in Vietnam is big news for the scientific community.
Biologist An Nguyen managed to scientifically confirm the existence of the silver-backed chevrotain, aka the Vietnamese mouse-deer, for the first time since 1907 ― though there was a sighting in 1990.
Until Nguyen photographed the rare mammal in the wild, the chevrotain was feared extinct and appeared on Global Wildlife Conservation’s list of the 25 Most Wanted Lost Species.
“For those of us living in Vietnam and working in wildlife conservation, the question of whether the chevrotain was still out there and if so, where, has been nagging us for years,” Nguyen said in a blog post on the Austin, Texas-based nonprofit’s website. “There was very little information available to point us in the right direction and we didn’t know what to expect.”
Nguyen and his team identified the most likely spots for a chevrotain sighting and conducted interviews with forest rangers and villagers who reported seeing a gray mouse-deer. The silver-backed chevrotain, which is about as big as a rabbit, is the world’s smallest hoofed animal.
“So the next step was to put out camera traps in one of those areas where villagers had described seeing the chevrotain,” Nguyen said. “The results were amazing. I was overjoyed when we checked the camera traps and saw photographs of a chevrotain with silver flanks. With three camera traps left in the field for five months, we were able to get 275 photos of the species.”
While the rediscovery of the chevrotain is good news, Andrew Tilker, Asian species officer for Global Wildlife Conservation, said it’s just the beginning.
“This might represent the last population or one of a handful of populations, in which case we need to take action immediately to put conservation measures in place to ensure its survival,” he said in the post.