Thua Thien-Hue: Endangered muntjacs spotted in Phong Dien Nature Reserve hinh anh 1An endangered muntjac is captured by a camera trap inside Phong Dien Nature Reserve in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue. (Photo: Phong Dien Nature Reserve)
Hanoi (VNA) – Endangered muntjacs thought to have become extinction have been spotted again inside Phong Dien Nature Reserve in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported, quoting the reserve’s director Le Ngoc Tuan.

At least two muntjacs, one of the rarest and most threatened mammal species of Southeast Asia, were captured in 11 photos taken by camera traps set up by scientists and conservationists in the reserve since March, according to Tuan.

Sketching across an area of 11 hectares, the system of 110 camera traps was initially intended to track Edwards’ Pheasant (Lophura Edwardsi), an extremely rare bird only found in the lowland forests in central Vietnam.

The camera traps unexpectedly captured muntjacs in at least 11 high-resolution photos – three in the day time and eight in the night time. Two muntjacts were even pictured in one photo.

They are not large-antlered muntjacs as initially suspected, but more likely Truong Son muntjacs (Muntiacus truongsonensis) or Roosevelt’s muntjacs (Muntiacus rooseveltorum), said Saola Foundation Chief Technical Advisor Rob Timmins. Both are endemic ungulates species discovered in Vietnam and Laos.

In addition to muntjacs, some 30 rare bird and animal species were also captured in the photos, such as crested argus (Rheinardia ocellata), Annamite striped rabbit (Nesolagus timminsi), Indochinese serow (Capricornis milneedwardsii maritimus), stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides), and Owston's palm civet (Chrotogale owstoni).

The findings are beyond expectation, Tuan said, adding that it shows the high biodiversity of Phong Dien Nature Park. As the area where camera traps were set up was relatively small, the findings can be even more surprising if it is expanded, he added.

Founded in 2002, Phong Dien Nature Park covers an area of nearly 41,000 hectares in Thua Thien-Hue’s A Luoi and Phong Dien districts.

The muntjac, which was first discovered in central Ha Tinh Province in 1994, is endemic to evergreen forests in the Truong Son (Annamite) Mountains bordering Vietnam and Laos. The rare animal has been spotted in Thua Thien–Hue in 2013, Thanh Hoa in 2016, and Quang Nam in 2018 and Lam Dong last year.

The deer has been absent for years due to illegal snare hunting./.