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Range DescriptionThe specimens used by Thomas (1910) to describe this species were acquired at Nhatrang on the coast of southern Viet Nam (12°15'N 109°10'E). The provenance of the specimens cannot be certain, although there is no specific reason to doubt it, because they may have been acquired in trade. Another specimen was obtained from local hunters on 16 January 1990 at about 500 m asl near the River Tra (a tributary of the River Ba) around Dak Rong and Buon Luoi, about 20 km north of Kan Nack (Gia Lai province, Viet Nam) and is now held at the Zoological Museum of Moscow University (Kuznetzov and Borissenko 2004). The true distribution of the species is unknown, because there has been very little conscious knowledge of the species, so surveys have not sought it; many have assumed that only one Tragulus occurs in most of Indochina and therefore not critically identified records. Confusion was fomented by the widespread inclusion of T. versicolor within T. napu, although in many external characters T. versicolor is more like T. kanchil than it is T. napu (Meijaard and Groves 2004a; R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008), meaning that even surveyors who thought they had correctly excluded ‘the second Indochinese chevrotain’ from their records of T. kanchil (then referred to as T. javanicus) had not in fact done so (e.g. almost all records from Lao PDR in the 1990s). Few, if any, records of Tragulus from Indochina other than those in Meijaard and Groves (2004a) and in Kuznetzov and Borissenko (2004) have been positively identified to species using criteria that could distinguish T. versicolor from T. kanchil. However, the species is certainly not as widespread as T. kanchil in Indochina (which is known from a scattering of specimens from throughout southern and central Indochina; Meijaard and Groves 2004a; E. Meijaard pers. comm. 2008), and analysis of Tragulus photos (by R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008) from camera-traps from a number of localities (central Annamites: Quang Nam; B. Long/WWF; Virachey NP; Huy Keavuth/WWF; Northern Annamites: Nakai-Nam Theun NPA; W.G. Robichaud/J. Johnson/WMPA; eastern Cambodian lowlands; Huy Keavuth/WWF) have either been of unidentifiable chevrotains or more commonly have certainly been of T. kanchil (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). The same appears to be true of photos from camera-traps from Siema Biodiversity Conservation Area in eastern Cambodia (J. Walston pers. comm. 2005 to R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008).
T. versicolor would be difficult to separate confidently from T. kanchil especially under field conditions and this is so even on photographs. Thus, building knowledge on the species is likely to prove difficult and time consuming (R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Distinguishing characters were discussed by Meijaard and Groves (2004a) and by Kuznetzov and Borissenko (2004). The latter, admittedly on the basis of a single specimen which, lacking a skull, could not be aged, confirmed the pelage pattern differences described in the earlier source, but suspected that T. versicolor might be smaller than sympatric T. kanchil, rather than consistently larger.