A silver-backed chevrotain is captured on camera in an undisclosed forest in south-central Vietnam. Picture: Southern Institute of Ecology/Global Wildlife Conservation/Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research/NCNP via AP

Hanoi - A cute mouse deer, also known as a silver-backed chevrotain, has been caught on camera in Vietnam after it was considered "lost to science" for 30 years, reports said on Tuesday.

Camera traps captured images of the furry creature rummaging for food amid undergrowth in a southern Vietnamese forest, the first confirmed sighting of the creature since the 1980s.

It's a curious animal resembling a diminutive deer yet with a mouse-like head adorned with auburn fur. It also has hooves, which means it's actually a rare species of ungulate, and is found only in Vietnam.

"We had no idea what to expect, so I was surprised and overjoyed when we checked the camera traps and saw photographs of a chevrotain with silver flanks," said An Nguyen, a scientist at Global Wildlife Conservation, according to The Guardian.

A silver-backed chevrotain is photographed in an undisclosed forest in south-central Vietnam. The species, commonly known as Vietnamese mouse deer, was rediscovered after 30 years. Picture: Southern Institute of Ecology/Global Wildlife Conservation/Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research/NCNP via AP

The findings were first reported in a paper published by Nature Ecology and Evolution. Its opening paragraph calls for renewed conservation.

"Here, we provide evidence that the silver-backed chevrotain still exists and the first photographs of the species in the wild, and urge immediate conservation actions to ensure its survival," the report said.

Two silver-backed chevrotains in an undisclosed forest in south-central Vietnam. Picture: Southern Institute of Ecology/Global Wildlife Conservation/Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research/NCNP via AP

An Nguyen's team discovered the rare animal after setting up three camera traps which took photos over a five-month period in forests not far from the coastal Vietnamese city of Nha Trang.

The report also shares concerns about the use of snares in Vietnam, which may have pushed the creature to the edge of extinction.

dpa