The Kashmir musk deer has been sighted in the forests of northeastern Afghanistan for the first time since 1948.
That’s unusual because apart from the fact the musk deer is endangered due to being poached for its scent glands, male musk also sport a horrific set of vampire-like fangs.
They’re hard to miss:
A research team led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) confirmed the species’ presence during recent surveys. They saw the fanged musk deer on five occasions, including a solitary male in the same area on three occasions, one female with a juvenile, and one solitary female, which may have been the same individual without her young.
According to the team, the musk deer were “discrete, cryptic, difficult to spot, and could not be photographed”. When they were seen, it was on steep rocky outcrops “interspersed with alpine meadows and scattered, dense high bushes of juniper and rhododendron”.
It’s the male that wears the fangs in the family, using them during mating season to fight for partners.
Wildlife traffickers have hammered the species, as its scent glands are considered more valuable by weight than gold – up to $45,000 per kilo.
“Musk deer are one of Afghanistan’s living treasures,” said WCS deputy director of Asia programs, Peter Zahler.
“This rare species, along with better known wildlife such as snow leopards, are the natural heritage of this struggling nation.”
The study of the WCS findings was published in the October 22nd edition of the journal Oryx.
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