This Elusive Creature Wasn’t Seen for Nearly 30 Years. Then It Appeared on Camera. – The New York Times
The illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam has depleted some forests so drastically that scientists call the result “empty forest syndrome,” where almost nothing sings or crawls or rustles the branches.
“There’s a beautiful, vibrant tropical forest around you, but no animals in it,”said Andrew Tilker, a scientist with Global Wildlife Conservation and doctoral student at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin. “It’s an eerie feeling.”
Within this emptiness, Mr. Tilker and a team of researchers went looking for a small, deer-like mammal called the silver-backed chevrotain, which scientists hadn’t seen any evidence of in nearly 30 years. But, the team reported Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution, there’s at least one pocket of forest where the mammal is alive and well, for now.
With its Search for Lost Species initiative, Global Wildlife Conservation aims to highlight species, like the silver-backed chevrotain, that are “lost” to science, but not necessarily extinct. Scientists have only recorded five silver-backed chevrotain specimens. All of them were already dead. The first four appeared in 1910, and the final specimen, killed by a hunter, turned up in 1990.
Researchers had no reason to think the silver-backed chevrotain had gone extinct. But the researchers also had no idea where to find the animal.
In March 2017, members of the research team brainstormed about where to look for the silver-backed chevrotain. They focused on dry coastal forest in the southern part of Vietnam, near where the first specimens turned up more than a century earlier. It’s a very different habitat from the wet evergreen forests that are common across the country, Mr. Tilker says, but other research in those forests hadn’t turned up any silver-backed chevrotains. “We thought, hey, why don’t we go somewhere different?”
Next, Vietnamese team members interviewed local residents about whether they had seen any silver-backed chevrotains in the forest. It was a delicate question, Mr. Tilker said, because the wire-snare hunting that has emptied Vietnamese forests is illegal. Most of it supplies a thriving illegal wildlife trade, with much of the meat ending up in restaurants. Some of the people who could best answer the scientists’ questions were hunters and traders.
An Nguyen, also a Global Wildlife Conservation scientist and a Leibniz Institute doctoral student, led the interviews. Researchers started with simple questions about people’s lives to get them comfortable, Mr. Nguyen said, and then asked about wildlife in the forest. Had they seen the little deer-like animal with a pointed face, tawny fur and a grizzled back?
Everyone interviewed said that chevrotain populations (including the silver-backed as well as another species, the lesser chevrotain) had plummeted in recent years from hunting. But at least nine of the 35 people interviewed said they had seen a silver-backed chevrotain. One person walked researchers into the forest and showed scientists the exact location. The team used the information to set up camera traps, or motion-activated cameras that snap a burst of photos whenever something walks by.
A few months later, the researchers collected the cameras they had left in the forest and combed through the pictures. In photograph after photograph, there it was: the silver-backed chevrotain. It appeared in daytime, usually alone. The cameras had captured the species on 208 separate occasions.
Mr. Nguyen says that after walking through the camera trap sites and seeing footprints and other evidence of mammal life, the pictures didn’t surprise him. Still, they’re the first known photos of silver-backed chevrotains alive, and the first scientific evidence of the creature in almost three decades.
The silver-backed chevrotain is one of many species unique to the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos. Tran Van Bang, a co-author of the study and scientist with the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology’s Southern Institute of Ecology, said that learning more about these species is important for drawing attention and resources to these threatened forests. To keep the silver-backed chevrotain safe in the immediate future, though, the authors aren’t saying exactly where they put their cameras.
But they may have said too much already, said Diana Bell, a professor of conservation biology at the University of East Anglia whose research team has also worked with elusive wildlife in Vietnam. “I think the most important point it raises is whether authors should in fact be publicizing the rediscovery of a critically endangered species.”
Even though the scientists have hidden the silver-backed chevrotain’s exact location, Dr. Bell worries that the publication could increase demand for the animal by hunters.
“It is deeply depressing that conservation biologists should now be placed in this dilemma,” she added.
Mr. Tilker agreed that hunting is the most imminent danger to species like the silver-backed chevrotain. Even if the animals remaining in the Vietnamese forests avoid extinction from hunting, they will still face other threats including climate change and habitat destruction. But knowing where some animals are still hiding out is a first step toward keeping them alive.
“Until we find the species and start learning something about it, it’s not possible to do any sort of conservation,” Mr. Tilker said. “It’s hard to protect a species if you don’t know if it still exists.”
We’ve never seen a quarterback quite like Lamar Jackson is the best running quarterback in NFL history. Better than Fran Tarkenton. Steve Young. Bobby Douglass. Cam Newton. Randall Cunningham. And Vick. Vick has been the standard bearer for running quarterbacks, the … read more
New Zealand central bank seen cutting rates as economic growth slows: Reuters poll By Charlotte Greenfield WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Most economists are expecting New Zealand’s central bank to cut rates to a record low at its last monetary policy decision … read more
This is the lowest price we’ve seen yet! Sony’s best noise-canceling headphones are on sale — save $72 “As someone who owns Bose noise cancelling headphones, these new headphones have blown me away,” wrote a five-star Amazon reviewer. “The noise cancelling is … read more
A transit of Mercury was first seen in 1631 and nearly disregarded – CNET A composite image of Mercury’s journey across the sun in 2016. NASA The transit of Mercury in front of the sun will happen Monday, a rare event … read more
U.S. seen as ‘exporter of white supremacist ideology,’ says counterterrorism official Jeff Schoep, former chairman of the National Socialist Movement, speaks during a rally at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 10, 2018. (Photo: Jim Urquhart/Reuters) WASHINGTON — … read more
Reluctant PBOC Seen Limiting Support for China’s Bond Market (Bloomberg) — While Tuesday’s move by the People’s Bank of China to trim a benchmark for bank funding costs has helped halt a slide in the country’s bonds, market participants see … read more
The “GMA” cohost is seen in an unreleased video livid that her interview with the billionaire’s alleged sexual assault victim was scrapped. Watch! #AmyRobach #ENews #CelebrityNews #JeffreyEpstein Watch Live from E! here: http://bit.ly/2vGuD5g Subscribe: http://bit.ly/enewssub About E! News: Giuliana Rancic, … read more
He may have died in 1955 — but you haven’t seen the last film featuring James Dean. In a creepy turn, the Hollywood icon will be digitally reincarnated to star in the action film “Finding Jack,” in which he’ll play … read more
Bangladesh seen as climate threat by boosting coal reliance By Naimul Karim DHAKA, Nov 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Bangladeshi plan to burn more coal for power will worsen global warming in a nation already battered by climate crises … read more
LAS VEGAS — Over the years, I’ve seen tons of people who go through their NFL pools picking all the home teams, figuring they’re more likely to win. Well, those players finally had their day, as home teams went 11-0 … read more
In only 11 NHL games, Adam Fox had already seen a lot. The Rangers’ righty-shot defenseman started slowly, expected for a 21-year-old coming straight out of Harvard into his first pro season. His young team then went into a slide … read more
Mexican inflation seen holding steady in October: Reuters poll Mexican inflation seen holding steady in October: Reuters poll MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s annual inflation likely remained stable in October at the central bank’s target rate, reinforcing expectations of another … read more
White nationalists seen filming at lynching victim memorial People carrying a white nationalist flag were caught on security cameras trying to film in front of a new memorial to lynching victim Emmett Till. Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett … read more
19-year-old Aniah Blanchard was last seen more than a week ago. Police found her damaged car two days later and say the evidence points to foul play. Alabama officials are offering a reward of more than $100,000, thanks in part … read more
Miami-Dade County has already seen a rise in officers seeking psychological help, emerging peer-support groups Jack Brook and Charles RabinMiami Herald MIAMI — In 30 years as a Miami-Dade cop, he’d seen things he could not shake from his mind … read more
Japan Sept. household spending seen jumping ahead of sales tax hike: Reuters poll TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s household spending likely rose at the fastest pace in nearly 20 years in September, a Reuters poll found on Friday, as shoppers rushed … read more
Maybe you’ve seen the old Robert Redford movie from 1972, “The Candidate.” Redford plays Bill McKay, an underdog running in the California Senate race against longtime incumbent Crocker Jarmon and, spoiler alert (or, really, not; you’ve had 47 years to … read more
You’ve never seen Trump TV so afraid. Aired on 10/29/19. » Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc MSNBC delivers breaking news, in-depth analysis of politics headlines, as well as commentary and informed perspectives. Find video clips and segments from The Rachel Maddow … read more
Q’ela Pierce could be seen crying, overcome with emotion, and then smiling as her parents spoke to her. WATCH THE FULL EPISODE OF ‘WORLD NEWS TONIGHT’: https://bit.ly/34cDlpB WATCH OTHER FULL EPISODES OF WORLD NEWS TONIGHT: http://abc.go.com/shows/world-news-tonight #WorldNewsTonight #AmericaStrong #QelaPierce #cochlearimplant … read more
California’s Kincade wildfire fury seen in harrowing video as firefighters drive into flames This is a drive straight into hell. A harrowing video emerged Tuesday showing what firefighters are dealing with as they battle the largest wildfire currently burning in California, … read more