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Rare Ginger Mongoose Caught on Camera

An orange-coated mongoose comes in for its close-up in Sumatra's Jantho Wildlife Reserve. (Image credit: FFI)

A rare redheaded mongoose was recently captured in camera-trap photos in Indonesia. The animal, initially not recognized by local conservationists, looks like an oversized, orange-coated weasel and is believed to be a ginger version of the usually brown collared mongoose.

Flora & Fauna International (FFI) said the pictures were taken during a training session for community rangers in a wildlife reserve in Aceh, a province of Indonesia located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. FFI officials believe the animal belongs to the species Herpestes semitorquatus, a type of mongoose that has been recorded in Sumatra only occasionally and is noted as Data Deficient by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning there is not enough information to determine its conservation status.

While this sighting was unusual, camera trap surveys in nearby Malaysian Borneo have yielded five independent photographic records of mongooses with a distinct reddish-orange pelt, reports a recent study in the Small Carnivore Conservation Journal.

Camera traps are useful for snapping photos of rarely seen animals in the wild. FFI said it has been using the technique to document scarce species in Sumatra, including the critically endangered Sumatran ground cuckoo and the Sumatran muntjac, a dog-sized deer that had not been seen since 1930 until camera-trap pictures turned up.

This picture was taken during a camera-trap workshop for local wildlife rangers in Indonesia. The photo shows a redheaded example of the normally brown collared mongoose. (Image credit: FFI)
Megan Gannon
Megan has been writing for Live Science and Space.com since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.