Good news for the Visayan Spotted Deer, Cervus alfredi, said to be the rarest deer in the world.  Evidence of two groups of the rare deer was found on the Philippine Islands.  A team of specialists from the Negros Interior Biodiversity Expedition (NIBE) found evidence of the deer at the North Negros Natural Park (NNNP) during the very first biological expedition at the park. 

Visayan Spotted Deer

The deer, not much bigger than some types of dogs, stands less than 3 feet tall at the shoulder.  True to its name, the deer has a pattern of cream-colored spots along its back and side.  Although the species is fully protected by law, hunting still continues.  Besides hunting, habitat loss due to logging and agricultural expansion has also contributed to the near demise of the deer. According to the IUCN Red List, the deer is “estimated to have been extirpated from at 95% to 98% of its former range.”

Negros Interior Biodiversity Expedition

Due to the difficult terrain, parts of the park had never been scientifically explored. Besides the tough terrain, the specialists had to contend with unpredictable weather and dangerous animals including blood-sucking Limatik leeches that are attracted to soft tissues – including eyeballs!

Bottom Line

It is estimated only a few hundred of the deer remain in the wild and sightings are rare.  Although none of the deer were visibly seen during the expedition, evidence of feeding activity, droppings and footprints were located.  Besides the deer, the experts also discovered other endangered species during the three-week exploration.

For a rare chance to see the Spotted Deer, visit the Philippine Spotted Deer captive breeding project  of Silliman University and managed by the Center for Tropical Conservation Studies (CENTROP).

Photo courtesy of Magalhaes via Creative Commons license.