VLADIVOSTOK, August 15. /TASS/. A new species of deer previously not seen on Russia’s territory was caught by camera traps in Russia’s Far Eastern nature reserve, its press service said on Thursday.
“A water deer (Hydropotes inermis) was caught on camera traps in the southern section of the Land of Leopard nature reserve (in the Khasan district of the Primorsky Region). It is the first time the presence of this species is recorded in the fauna of Russia and within the borders of the former Soviet Union. The overall list of mammals inhabiting Russia has 326 species on it, so water deer will become the 327th, and the eighth species of the Cervidae [deer] family. Detection of this hoofed mammal, which is not endemic for our country, has become the first such event in the 21st century,” the statement reads.
Border guards told experts of the Russian nature reserve that water deers have been sporadically spotted in the south of the Khasan district since 2015.
Now the scientists are to study its numbers, migration and preferred habitats, as well as the how the animal interacts with the endemic species in its family – roe deer and sika (spotted) deer.
Water deers were once abundant along the entire coast of the Yellow Sea, from the Korean Peninsula to the lower course of the Yangtze River in China. However, by the middle of the past century, their habitat has become limited to two separate areas – near Shanghai and on the border between the North and South Koreas. It is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
According to scientists, water deers may occupy vacant environmental niches in the southwest of the Primorsky region and become an additional source of food for the critically endangered Amur leopard.