Adorable Vietnamese Mouse-Deer Rediscovered In The Wild After 30 Years!

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The Vietnamese mouse-deer has not been seen in the wild since 1990 (Credit: SIE/GWC/Leibniz-IZW/NCNP)

Endemic to the forests of south and southeast Asia, the silver-backed chevrotain, or Vietnamese mouse-deer, is one of the world's most elusive animals. The rabbit-sized critter is only known to science through five specimens, four of which were recorded by researchers in 1910. The fifth was killed by a hunter and donated to scientists in 1990. Since then, there have been no recorded sightings of the animals, leading many to fear they had gone extinct. Now, thanks to the efforts and persistence of a team led by biologist Andrew Tilker, the species has not only been rediscovered but also photographed in the wild for the first time!

"It's a really cool species, and we'd long hoped to find the proof they were still around," says Tilker, a doctoral student with the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany.

The animal, which looks like a hybrid between a mouse and a deer, is the smallest member of the hoofed ungulate family, which includes deer, giraffes, sheep, llamas, and many others. They live alone, or in pairs, and have a distinguishing silver sheen on their rumps, along with tusk-like incisors. Because chevrotains lack horns and antlers, and the teeth are unusually long in males, scientists believe the "fangs" are used to compete for territory and mates.

Andrew Tilker and An Nguyen are the first to photograph the mouse deer in the wild (Credit: SIE/GWC/Leibniz-IZW/NCNP)

Tilker and An Nguyen, a biologist and Ph.D. student with the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, began their search by talking to the local residents and rangers familiar with the dense forests. They then set up camera traps in three different Vietnamese provinces where there had been recent mouse-deer sightings. To their surprise and delight, over the course of two six-month study periods in 2017 and 2018, the motion-triggered cameras captured 200 images of the animals at 15 different locations.

"The species has been known to local people all along," says Tilker. "In this respect, the silver-backed chevrotain was a species that was 'lost to science,' but it was not lost to local people living in and around its habitat."

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution on November 11, 2019, believe that poaching and habitat loss are the biggest risks to the mouse-deer's existence. They are suggesting additional research to find more specimens. "It is important that scientists conduct follow-up surveys to search for additional populations, assess how common or rare the species is in places where it occurs, and to assess the major threats that it faces," says Tilker. "The involvement of local people will be critical in all of these efforts."

Climate change and loss of habitat is resulting in the loss of thousands of animals (Credit: IUCN/BBC)

The mouse-deer is the first creature found through the Search for Lost Species, a Global Wildlife Conservation initiative to find and protect around 1,200 breeds of animals and plants that have been lost to science. However, they are not unique in their status as a rediscovered species. Recently, scientists have also found specimens of other "vanished" animals, including Wallace’s giant bee, the Lord Howe Island stick insect, and the Varanus douarrha monitor lizard. Hopefully, they will be able to find all the others as well. As Tilker succinctly puts it, "We shouldn't give up on them just because we haven't seen them in a long time."

Resources: Natgeo.com, CNN.com, NewsAtlas.com

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294 Comments
  • potterforever
    potterforeverSaturday, February 15, 2020 at 7:07 am
    So cute!!!!!!!!😍
    • kittyndogonews
      kittyndogonewsThursday, February 13, 2020 at 5:36 pm
      Aww those animals are so adorable 😍
      • pupluver626
        pupluver626Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 1:37 pm
        Are we sure if is real? I mean I agree they are totally adorbs! But it looks Photoshop to me 😕😑😑😕
        • midlandlover
          midlandloverTuesday, February 11, 2020 at 8:55 am
          Awwwwwww i want one sooooooooo bad :D there so cute
          • herminefanhd
            herminefanhdSaturday, February 8, 2020 at 12:46 pm
            this is cinda weird...
            • cxrstall_yeet
              cxrstall_yeetFriday, February 7, 2020 at 11:37 am
              Wow, these are so cute. Are they real..?
              • emma19
                emma19Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 12:17 pm
                wow cool
                • unipup_dogonews
                  unipup_dogonewsThursday, February 6, 2020 at 11:11 am
                  The world is dying because of humans, we need to stop polluting, littering, poaching, and killing a lot of other animals. Like this if you agree. Reply #save the animals if you want to stop polluting and other things that are killing animals.
                  • pupluver626
                    pupluver626Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 1:38 pm
                    #SaveTheAnimals!
                    • unipup_dogonews
                      unipup_dogonewsThursday, February 6, 2020 at 11:11 am
                      #save the animals
                    • jadebeca-156797427458
                      jadebeca-156797427458Friday, January 31, 2020 at 2:36 pm
                      # save the turtles
                      • icecreamheaven
                        icecreamheavenThursday, January 30, 2020 at 11:22 am
                        thats good that they havent gone exticnt so we can bring them into a lab and breed them.