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By José de Toledo
In a "popular" way this deer has been given the name "vampire fawn". That sounds a lot more attractive than Kashmir musk deer (Moschus cupreus), which would be its official common name, so to speak.
And the scientific explanation of its fangs is also unpoetic. It is, basically, a variant of the horns that the rest of its cousins present. They are used during the breeding season to determine importance. That is, a characteristic for sexual selection.
What is interesting is its state of conservation. It is a highly threatened species for several reasons, many common to other species. Starting with a too common factor, unfortunately: the disappearance of their habitat.
Of course, with the "vampire deer" things are more complicated than normal. Because living in Afghanistan, one of the most convulsive areas on the planet for a long time, complicates things even more. It contributes to the disappearance of your home, and also makes its protection and study extremely difficult.
But this is not even the main factor. Poaching is the greatest threat to this particular-looking animal. Its scent glands, which secrete a viscous fluid full of pheromones, is used in this region of the planet in traditional medicine. In fact, in the article they give a surprising fact: the kilo of gland can reach 45,000 dollars, about 36,000 euros.
Adding up all these factors, and the fact that no one had seen this animal for fifty years, all the specialists assumed that it was extinct. And yet in 2010 at least five sightings could be detected. And since then…
Since then, and due - again - to the complicated situation in the region, no conservation organization has been able to return to the area to conduct field studies. However, specialists remain in contact with the local population, who have been able to confirm that they are still there.
Hopefully, in not long time, scientists - and not only them - can return to the region to help protect this species, and all those that make up the natural heritage of their country.