The 'most wanted' species rediscovered in the wild

Published 4:19 AM ET, Fri August 27, 2021
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Jessie the scent detection dog and her team are searching for De Winton's golden mole, a tiny mammal lost to science for 84 years. The mole is part of conservation group Re:wild's top 25 'Most Wanted Lost Species' list. South Africa's Endangered Wildlife Trust partnered with Re:wild to use new detection techniques to hunt for the creature, including DNA analysis and dogs like Jessie. Click through to learn more about De Winton's mole and other rediscovered species. Nicky Souness
De Winton's golden mole: The moles create these burrows in the sand -- swimming underneath sand dunes with the help of an oily secretion that lubricates their fur and gives them a shine, which led to the name "golden" mole. Because they live underground, golden moles are completely blind, but can detect prey using advanced navigation abilities. Their habitat in South Africa is under threat from large-scale mining operations. Nicky Souness
Sierra Leone crab: Not seen since 1955, this crab was rediscovered last month near Sugar Loaf Mountain in a national park in Sierra Leone. It is the eighth species to be found on Re:wild's list. With its purple claws, the Sierra Leone crab is colorful -- but doesn't spend much time in water. Instead, it lives between rock crevices, burrows in trees, and in the ground. Pierre A. Mvogo Ndongo, a researcher at the University of Douala in Cameroon, spent three weeks searching for the crab, following leads based on interviews with local community members. Re:wild
Wallace's giant bee: Here, an expedition team member examines an arboreal termite mound containing the world's first rediscovered Wallace's giant bee and her nest. The nest was found in a tree about eight feet off the ground in a patch of forest in the north of Indonesia, where deforestation threatens its habitat. The bee has been lost to science since 1981 and was found by an independent search team in early 2019. After rediscovery, the team initiated talks to look for Wallace's giant bee in other locations and to implement conservation action. Clay Bolt/Re:wild
Wallace's giant bee: This is one of the first images of a living Wallace's giant bee. It is the world's largest knowing living bee species -- approximately four times larger than a European honey bee (shown here as a composite for comparison). In 1858, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace discovered the giant bee on his last day exploring Bacan, a tropical Indonesian island. He described the bee as "a large, black wasp-like insect, with immense jaws like a stag beetle." Despite its size, Wallace's giant bee was not seen again until 1981. Clay Blot/Re:wild
Wallace's giant bee: Here, natural history photographer Clay Bolt takes the first ever photos of a living Wallace's giant bee at her nest, found in an active termite mound in the Moluccas islands of Indonesia. The female giant bee makes her nest in the mounds by lining it with sticky tree resin to protect it from termites. Clay Bolt/Re:wild
Voeltzkow's chameleon: After a two-week expedition to northwestern Madagascar, Voeltzkow's chameleon (pictured) was rediscovered. The species was first described in 1893 and last seen in 1913. Although the expedition was in 2018, the rediscovery was announced in the scientific journal Salamandra in 2020. The expedition team provided the first data on the natural history of the species and the differences to its closest relative, Labord's chameleon. The team says the female chameleons stood out, as they have striking patterns and colors, including purple, orange, red, green, black and white -- and are thought to change color depending on their mood. Frank Glaw/Re:wild
Somali sengi: Lost to science since 1968, the Somali sengi (pictured) was rediscovered in 2019. A paper published in 2020 announced its rediscovery in Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa. The small mammal walks on its hind limbs and mates for life, sharing a territory with its chosen partner. It is just a few inches in size and eats insects with its long nose. Re:wild
Somali sengi: The creature was only previously known in Somalia, but this team of scientists set out to find the Somali sengi in Djibouti after receiving tips it might be in the country. Using information from interviews on the ground and results from scat analysis (the study of undigested food remains in animal droppings), the team set 1,259 traps at 12 locations. Incredibly, they caught a Somali sengi in the first trap they set. In total, the team saw 12 sengis during their trip and obtained the first-ever photos and video of live Somali sengis for science. Re:wild
Silver-backed chevrotain: Lost to science since 1990, the rediscovery of the silver-backed chevrotain (two of them pictured here) was published in 2019 in the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. Also called the Vietnamese mouse-deer, the species is about the size of a rabbit and has two tiny fangs. They are shy and appear to walk on the tips of their hooves. Re:wild
Silver-backed chevrotain: The creature was first recorded in 1920, as four individuals were spotted in southern Vietnam (pictured). In 1990, a Russian expedition recorded a fifth. Scientists know very little about the silver-backed chevrotain's ecology or conservation status, making it a high priority. Re:wild
Silver-backed chevrotain: After interviews with local villagers and government rangers, a field team set three camera traps (such as the set-up seen here) for five months in an area of southern Vietnam where sightings had been reported. These traps resulted in 275 photos of the species. Another 29 cameras resulted in a further 1,881 photos, again over a five-month period. The team is now looking to conduct the first-ever comprehensive survey on the species. Re:wild