Small deer-and-mouse-shaped creatures that have emerged over three decades are thought to disappear in southern Vietnam, making this latest discovery extremely exciting to biologists around the world.
The silver-backed chevrotain, also known as the Vietnamese mouse deer, was last recorded more than 25 years ago when a team of Vietnamese and Russian researchers found a carcass from a hunter.
"For a long time, this species only seemed to exist in our imagination," said Vietnamese biologist An Nguyen, a conservation scientist affiliated with the Global Wildlife Conservation Foundation. .
The silver-backed chevrotain or the mouse deer.
"This discovery is only the first step to ensure that we will not lose them again and quickly find the best way to protect this species," An said in a statement.
Scientists thought that the chevrotain, which was on the hunt for 25 species thought to have been lost by the World Wildlife Conservation (GWC), had become a victim of loss. habitat and hunting.
Details of the discovery were published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
After interviewing villagers and forest rangers near the coastal city of Nha Trang, a team of scientists set camera traps for five months in areas where locals said they might have seen crosshairs.
The result was 275 images of this very small deer. The team then set up another 29 cameras in the same area, this time recording 1,881 shots of the chevrotain for 5 months.
According to the GWC, the chevrotain is the smallest sized ungulate in the family, they are shy and isolated, often moving on top of hooves and having two small fangs. They usually weigh less than 4kg.
The animal was first described by scientists in 1910, when four specimens were collected around Nha Trang. There were no additional scientific verification records of crosshairs until 1990, when one was confiscated from local hunters in central Vietnam.
The chevrotain is the smallest sized ungulate in them, shy and isolated.
"Very few people know about this species so the search becomes a huge question mark. One of the biggest challenges is deciding where to start the search," said Andrew Tilker of GWC.
"We have two potential locations that are quite far apart one in the south and north much further. But we know that many people have installed cameras in the wet forests in the north and failed to produce results. , so we thought it was better to find a habitat in the dry forest, where not many people know about this species, " said Tilker.
According to Tilker, this latest discovery has great implications for finding species that are thought to be rare and have disappeared in the wild.
"For scientists, this is a species that has disappeared, but the locals all know about them. Only by using the local ecological knowledge that we have succeeded. That can be replicated." to other species in other parts of the world, " he said.
Tilker also warned that just because this species is found relatively easily, that doesn't mean it is not threatened.
"The detective can be found to be the last or one of the few remaining, in which case we need to take immediate action to take conservation measures to ensure survival. in their " , according to Mr. Tilker.