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Rare deer-like species snapped in the wild

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In this Jun. 21, 2018, photo, a silver-backed chevrotain is captured by camera trap in an undisclosed forest in south central Vietnam. (Southern Institute of Ecology/Global Wildlife Conservation/Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research/NCNP via AP)

A tiny deer-like species not seen by scientists for nearly 30 years has been photographed in a forest in southern Vietnam.

Images of the silver-backed chevrotain, commonly called the Vietnamese mouse deer, were captured in the wild by trap cameras, conservation group Global Wildlife Conservation said on Tuesday.

It said the rabbit-sized animal is not a deer or a mouse, despite its nickname, but is the world's smallest hoofed mammal.

They are shy and solitary, have two tiny fangs, appear to walk on the tips of their hooves, and have a silver sheen, the group said.

Conservation scientist An Nguyen from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, a partner of GWC in the project, said it was important to protect the chevrotain.

"For so long this species has seemingly only existed as part of our imagination," he said.

"Discovering that it is, indeed, still out there, is the first step in ensuring we don't lose it again, and we're moving quickly now to figure out how best to protect it."

The chevrotain was first described in 1910 by four people.

A fifth sighting was reported in 1990 in central Vietnam, making it one of the rarest animals in the world, GWC said in a statement.

An and his team set up camera traps after receiving reports from local villagers and forest rangers of the animals.

The cameras took some 1800 photos of the species over a period of five months.

© AP 2019