Camera-trap evidence that the silver-backed chevrotain Tragulus versicolor remains in the wild in Vietnam


In an age of mass extinctions, confirming the survival of lost species provides rare second chances for biodiversity conservation. The silver-backed chevrotain Tragulus versicolor, a diminutive species of ungulate known only from Vietnam, has been lost to science for almost three decades. Here, we provide evidence that the silver-backed chevrotain still exists and the first photographs of the species in the wild, and urge immediate conservation actions to ensure its survival.

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Fig. 1: Past localities of silver-backed chevrotains within the Greater Annamites Ecoregion.
Fig. 2: Silver-backed chevrotain specimen from 1990 and photographs of silver-backed chevrotain obtained during this study.

Data availability

Owing to the high demand for wildlife products and the large-scale commercial hunting that is prevalent in Southeast Asia, we have decided with local conservation stakeholders not to release any detailed information on the newly confirmed population of silver-backed chevrotain. However, basic camera-trap record information (camera trap station number, date and time of photographs) is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Please note that we are unable to share the name of the survey site or exact GPS coordinates for the camera stations at this time.


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We thank the team members, including T. A. D. Vo, T. Q. Le, N. T. Truong, H. H. P. Tran, V. T. Cao and local people for their support in the field; R. Timmins for discussions in survey planning; and W. Duckworth, R. Ratajszczak and R. Wirth for help with species identification. N. N. Spasskaya, Zoological Museum of Lomonosov, Moscow State University, provided access to the Gia Lai chevrotain specimen (S-151301). Funding for the surveys was provided by Wroclaw Zoo, Aukland Zoo, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (Project 172515989), and the Gerald Singer Deer Research Grant provided by the Sainte Croix Biodiversité. We also thank Southern Institute of Ecology, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Global Wildlife Conservation, and ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo for additional support.

Author information

A.N., T.A.M.N. and D.T.N. conducted the field work. A.N. and A.T. identified and processed camera-trap data. A.N. and A.T. wrote the first draft of the manuscript. A.W., V.B.T., D.M.H., T.A.M.N., D.T.N., T.V.T., E.M., J.H. and B.L. contributed to the manuscript and revised subsequent drafts.

Correspondence to Andrew Tilker.

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Nguyen, A., Tran, V.B., Hoang, D.M. et al. Camera-trap evidence that the silver-backed chevrotain Tragulus versicolor remains in the wild in Vietnam. Nat Ecol Evol 3, 1650–1654 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41559-019-1027-7

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