Walter's duiker, a petite antelope species, made itself known on a trail camera.
Researchers in the West African country of Togo were recently treated to an extremely rare sight—one that had never been caught in the wild before.
Thanks to a joint WildCRU Togolese, British, and German team of scientists who placed 100 camera traps in Fazao-Malfakassa National Park, Walter's duiker, a petite antelope species, was caught on camera for the first time ever in the wild. WildCRU researchers were ecstatic to catch this extremely elusive animal in action.
The antelope was first discovered in 2010, when skulls and carcasses spotted in bushmeat markets in Benin, Togo, and Nigeria were compared with other duiker specimens. This new photographic evidence marks the first time scientists have captured an image of it in a natural habitat.
"This graceful antelope has, for the last 200 years, displayed a great talent for avoiding scientists, but proven tragically less adept at avoiding nets, snares, and hunting dogs," said Professor David Macdonald with WildCRU.
The Walter's duiker is so elusive, it is logged as "Data Deficient" on the IUCN Red List, a directory of endangered species.
Camera traps are a game-changer for scientists studying this and other rare species. Rather than having to rely on evidence from illegal bushmeat hunting to collect information, researchers can set up a camera, which is triggered to take pictures when an animal wanders by, and catch many elusive species in their natural habitat. It cuts bushmeat hunters further out of the equation and also provides critical evidence of biodiversity that will help the case for conservation.
"This is the way to find needles in a metaphorical haystack. It also instantly shines a global focus on this important national park in Togo. Along with Walter’s duiker we also found aardvarks and a mongoose called cusimanse, neither of which have previously been recorded in Togo," said McDonald.
According to a release from WildCRU, images compiled from the camera trapping in the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park identified 32 mammal species. When combined with other published studies of the park, it increases the total number of mammals (excluding bats) historically reported to 57 species.
Read more about this important research on WildCRU.org.
Have you been to Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo? Or better yet, have you ever seen a Walter's duiker? Share in the comments.