Fanged deer returns after 65-year absence

A rare fanged deer has been observed in the wild in Afghanistan for the first time in 65 years.

Five sightings of the Kashmir musk deer were recently documented by a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) team in Nuristan province - it was last observed scientifically by a Danish survey team in 1948.

Male musk deer's vampire-like fangs are not used to suck blood but rather during rutting season.

But it is their scent glands that have helped contribute to them being listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List - the glands selling for up to $45,000 on the black market.

The WCS team, publishing their findings in the October issue of Oryx, saw one lone male in the same area three times, one female with a child and one solitary female - which may have been the same deer without her young.

It was not possible to photograph the deer however and the above photo is of a Siberian musk deer, one of seven similar species found in Asia.

"Musk deer are one of Afghanistan's living treasures," said Peter Zahler, deputy director of WCS Asia programmes, said.

"This rare species, along with better known wildlife such as snow leopards, are the natural heritage of this struggling nation. We hope that conditions will stabilise soon to allow WCS and local partners to better evaluate conservation needs of this species."

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