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Incredibly Rare Species Seen for First Time in 30 Years

Trap cameras in Vietnam spotted 'mouse deer'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 12, 2019 4:34 AM CST
Updated Nov 16, 2019 12:25 PM CST
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A silver-backed chevrotain is captured on a camera trap in an undisclosed forest in south central Vietnam.   (Southern Institute of Ecology/Global Wildlife Conservation/Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research/NCNP via AP)
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(Newser) – A tiny deer-like species not seen by scientists for nearly 30 years has been photographed in a forest in southern Vietnam, a conservation group says. Images of the silver-backed chevrotain, commonly called the Vietnamese mouse deer, were captured in the wild by trap cameras, Global Wildlife Conservation says. The group says the rabbit-sized animal is not a deer or a mouse, despite its nickname, but is the world's smallest hoofed mammal. They are shy and solitary, have two tiny fangs, appear to walk on the tips of their hooves, and have a silver sheen, the group says. The chevrotain was first described in 1910 by four people. A fifth sighting was reported in 1990 in central Vietnam, making it one of the rarest animals in the world, GWC said in a statement.

"For so long this species has seemingly only existed as part of our imagination. 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," says An Nguyen, a conservation scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, a partner of GWC in the project. An and his team set up camera traps after receiving reports from local villagers and forest rangers of the animals, the AP reports. The cameras took some 1,800 photos of the species over a period of five months.

(Read more endangered species stories.)

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