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New deer species discovered in Russia

01 november 2019
Primorsky Province Wildlife Management Department, the Land of the Leopard National Park and WWF Russia announce that a water deer, a new mammal, appeared in the fauna of Primorye.

The first information about the “roe deer with canine teeth”, or “swamp musk deer” came from a citizen of the village of Barabash, the southwestern Primorye, in August 2016. After that, rangers, frontier guards, hunters, and fishermen encountered this “strange hybrid” quite regularly.

In April 2019, the Land of the Leopard Nation Park’s staff captured the water deer (Hydropotes inermis) with a camera trap in the southern part of the Park. According to the information presented on the Park’s site, this species in the fauna of Russia and the former Soviet Union’s borders has been registered for the first time. From now on the list of mammals will include 327 species instead of 326 and the water deer will become the eighth in the Cervidae family.
Water deer - new species in the fauna of Russia
Yulia Fomenko / WWF Russia
Revelation of a not-seen-before across Russia animal has become the first fact of such a kind in the 21st century.

Finally, in July 2019, inspectors of the Primorsky Province Wildlife Management Department and one of WWF specialists found the first evidence – a stuffed water deer. Its body was found in the Khasansky District most likely in winter 2018. Right away the stuffed animal is being studied by the scientists and staff of the National Park and WWF. They conduct DNA test, perform morphometric analysis, and examine the deer’s hair coat.

“Water deer entering the picture we regard as a piece of cake which we should accept properly and do our best for the animal to become a common species. Unfortunately, this guest entered a “hostile” territory which promises him a small chance to survive. Forest fires, poachers, specific diseases are around the corner of its uneasy trail. Now we should strengthen anti-poaching and firefighting activities, and what is more important we have to reconsider our attitude to preserving the unique Russia southernmost piece of land sandwiched between the urbanized China and the Sea of Japan, and to declare the territory of the right bank of the Razdolnaya River and the southwestern Primorye a special nature management zone”, notes Pavel Fomenko, head of rare species conservation unit of WWF Russia Amur branch.
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