No, this isn’t a belated Halloween prank.
A fanged deer species thought to possibly be extinct has been spotted in its native Afghanistan for the first time in nearly 60 years.
The Kashmir musk deer sets itself apart from other deer species thanks to two vampire-like fangs that protrude from the mouths of male musk deer. These extra-long teeth are used for sparring – not blood sucking – during mating season, reports The Weather Channel.
The animal was once prevalent throughout the mountains of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. Due to poaching and logging, the species has seen severe drops in numbers.
Prior to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s recently reported sighting and study, the last Kashmir musk deer spotted on record was in 1948.
“Musk deer are one of Afghanistan’s living treasures,” said Peter Zahler, one of the co-authors of the study that spotted the animal. “This rare species, along with better-known wildlife such as snow leopards, are the natural heritage of this struggling nation.”
While the animal’s fangs may be the stand-out feature to many, the musk deer is actually hunted for its scent gland. This gland, which the deer uses to mark its territory, is used by humans for perfumes and medicines. With a $45,000 per kilogram price tag on the black market, the musk has led to the aggressive poaching of this species.
The Kashmir musk deer is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Conservationists hope this new sighting will encourage the IUCN and animal lovers to protect the animals and help increase its numbers.