World: Silver-backed chevrotain, or mouse-deer, thought extinct, caught on camera in Vietnam - - PressFrom - Australia
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World Silver-backed chevrotain, or mouse-deer, thought extinct, caught on camera in Vietnam

18:55  11 november  2019
18:55  11 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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A silver - backed chevrotain , once thought “lost” to science, captured on video by a camera The illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam has depleted some forests so drastically that scientists call the result “empty forest Researchers had no reason to think the silver - backed chevrotain had gone extinct .

Silver - backed chevrotain caught on camera after it was feared lost to science.

The last silver-backed chevrotain was seen in the 1990s.© ABC News The last silver-backed chevrotain was seen in the 1990s.

With so many stories of animals going extinct these days it's rare to get some good news.

But researchers working in lowland forest near Nha Trang in south-east Vietnam have captured the first-ever photos of a silver-backed chevrotain or "mouse-deer", which conservationists feared was extinct.

The small deer-like species of ungulate was last seen in the early 1990s, and was feared to have been wiped out by extensive land clearing and poaching across its known habitat, researchers wrote in a paper published in Nature today.

While its small and fragmented population means the animal is still highly vulnerable to extinction, it's a "heartwarming" find according to James Watson, director of the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at the University of Queensland.

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Chevrotains , also known as mouse - deer , are small ungulates that make up the family Tragulidae, the only members of the infraorder Tragulina. The 10 extant species are placed in three genera, but several species also are known only from fossils.

The silver - backed chevrotain is also known as the “ mouse - deer ” and is so small it I was overjoyed when we checked the camera traps and saw photographs of a chevrotain with silver flanks. The silver - backed chevrotain is believed only to be found only in Vietnam , making the rare find one of

"[The silver-backed chevrotain] was mythical. People talked for years about whether it existed or not," said Professor Watson, who wasn't involved in the study.

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The Vietnam mouse - deer (Tragulus versicolor), also known as the silver - backed chevrotain , is a species of even-toed ungulate in the family Tragulidae that at present only is known from Vietnam .

The silver - backed chevrotain – or Vietnam mouse - deer - hasn't been seen for 30 years, but conservationists have tracked some down. A species of small deer-like animal feared to have gone extinct has been spotted in Vietnam for the first time in almost 30 years.

"This shows there are still things hanging on and they're not found in these really large protected areas, they're found in these small patches of habitat."

Prior to these images, the animal was only known from a handful of dead specimens and local reports.

The tiny silver-backed chevrotain, which superficially resembles a small deer, gets its name from the grey and white flecked fur on the back half of its body.

Because it is so rare, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists its conservation status as "data deficient".

Conservationists burning out from seeing loss every day

The researchers say there may be other populations in Vietnam.© ABC News The researchers say there may be other populations in Vietnam.

The research team suspected the animal may still occur in the forests near Nha Trang, after interviewing locals in the region who reported seeing chevrotains with grey backs.

So they set up camera traps — cameras triggered by movement — at three sites in early 2018.

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The silver - backed chevrotain has a distinctive ochre-and-grey fur and the team surmised if the species was alive, local residents would be able to recall the species' unique look. The initial surveys helped researchers decide where to build a network of camera traps across the forests in Vietnam 's

The chevrotain , also known as the mouse - deer , is the size of a domestic cat. It dates back to the Stone Age when it was 'However, most of these species are now very rare or extinct in Vietnam . The silver - backed chevrotain is found only in Vietnam - making it vital to the biodiversity heritage

When they retrieved their cameras in April of that year, all three contained images of the animals.

They then increased the number of camera traps to 29, and recorded animals on 15 of 29 cameras between April and July.

Their findings suggest that, at least within this small region, the species may be locally abundant.

However, they stress the need for more research to investigate whether there are other populations across Vietnam.

"We also recommend assessing the major threats in areas in which the species has been confirmed, as a first step in developing mitigation strategies with local stakeholders," they wrote.

Good news stories like this one are really important for conservationists, who are burning out on the seemingly relentless decline of the natural world, according to Professor Watson.

"Unfortunately the news is so often bad because the state of the planet is terrible," said Professor Watson, who is also the director of science and research at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"Most conservationists I think are manically depressed. I really do, because we see loss every day.

"So anything that makes you go, 'wow, that's unexpected but lovely', it warms the heart."

He thinks that the ecology of the silver-backed chevrotain means that it has a good chance of recovery, if the key threats are removed.

"They're rapid breeders, so the good news is that if you can get habitat loss and hunting under control, it's got a good chance at bouncing back."

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