Vietnam’s Hidden Animals

“THE most exciting period of animal discovery of the century,” enthused Douglas Richardson, curator of mammals at the London Zoo. He was referring to the discovery of certain large animals in remote jungles in Vietnam during the last ten years.

For decades, savage warfare made these forests inaccessible to scientists. Now, however, animal researchers working there have used automatic cameras to photograph animals. Among these is the Vietnamese rhinoceros, a subspecies of the Javan rhino and one of the world’s most endangered species.

Another of what might be called Vietnam’s hidden animals is an antelopelike ox also known as the Vu Quang ox. This creature, which was discovered in 1992 in the Vu Quang nature reserve, weighs about 225 pounds [100 kg] and stands three feet [1 m] high at its shoulder. It is possibly related to the ox, antelope, or goat. In the same reserve, three deer were also discovered—the giant muntjac in 1993, the Truong Son muntjac in 1997, and the leaf muntjac in 1998.

In 1996, scientists on the Tainguen Plateau in Vietnam discovered a small nocturnal carnivore, the Tainguen civet. It weighs between 6.6 and 16.5 pounds and lives in damp tropical forest.

Richardson explained that small animals are constantly being found—maybe as many as 20 different frogs in the course of a year—but the existence of these larger animals has been quite unexpected, reports The Independent newspaper of London.

[Pictures on page 31]

Tainguen civet

Vu Quang ox

Truong Son muntjac

Vietnamese rhinoceros

[Credit Lines]

Forest: © Wildside Photography

Vietnamese rhino: AP Photo/World Wildlife Fund, Mike Baltzer; other three animals: Courtesy EC-SFNC/Acknowledging the European Commission’s support of the photo-trapping program