The silver-backed chevrotain, or Vietnam mouse-deer (Tragulus versicolor), has been discovered living in the wild for the first time in 30 years, according to a paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution yesterday (November 11). This species is only found in Vietnam, and was thought to be pushed to the brink of extinction there due to hunting and deforestation.
Researchers led by An Nguyen and Andrew Tilker, both with Global Wildlife Conservation, conducted interviews with local people who had seen chevrotains in Nha Trang, Vietnam. The team then set up 33 motion-activated cameras in forested areas of Nha Trang to try to detect the elusive animal. Over the course of six months, from November 2017 to April 2018, the small, deer-like mammals were spotted on camera more than 200 times.
The authors don’t know how many individual animals were recorded, but are calling for further research and increased conservation efforts to protect the chevrotain population. “It is critical that the confirmation of the species’ survival is followed by on-the-ground action,” the authors write in the paper.
A. Nguyen et al., “Camera-trap evidence that the silver-backed chevrotain Tragulus versicolor remains in the wild in Vietnam,” Nat Ecol Evol, doi:10.1038/s41559-019-1027-7, 2019.
Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.