A species of fanged deer that hasn’t been seen in 66 years was spotted by scientists in Afghanistan, according to a news release published by the Wildlife Conservation Society on Friday.
The Kashmir musk deer is one of seven similar species found in Asia. However, due to its habitat loss and poachers, who value it for its prized scent glands, the animal is endangered. The glands are used in perfumes and traditional medicines, and are valued at more than $20,000 per pound. The male musk deer are also known to have fangs, which they use during breeding season to battle for mates.
A member of the species hasn’t been spotted in Afghanistan since 1948. On Friday, scientists published evidence of several appearances, though only one male was seen.
Because the deer are discrete and difficult to spot, scientists were unable to capture the animal on camera.
WCS Deputy Director of Asia Programs Peter Zahler noted in the press release that the organization hopes “conditions will stabilize soon” so that WCS and its partners can evaluate the conservation needs of the species. According to Zahler, the musk deer is one of Afghanistan’s living treasures.
"This rare species, along with better known wildlife such as snow leopards, are the natural heritage of this struggling nation,” Zahler said.