The Saola is extremely rare with only 4 official sightings since its discovery in 1992. They are characterised by 2 thin horns on their head which make them look like a relative of the antelope family when they are actually more closely related to the Buffalo.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Saola remains the most recent large mammal to be discovered, remaining unknown to science until 1992!
Type of animal: Mammal
Region: Central borders of Laos and Vietnam
Maximum Length: Up to 0.7m
Diet: Grasses and Shrubs
Status: Critically Endangered
of Laos and Vietnam
There is 1 specie of Saola in the world and they are found in the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam. Not a lot is known about these creatures due to their recent discovery and low numbers.
CONSERVATION - HOW TO HELP THE SAOLA
With a lack of knowledge on the Saola due to their recent discovery it is hard to pin point a specific reason for their decline. A major reason for their Critically Endangered status is that they are regularly being caught in snare traps. These traps are made from razor wire and are designed to catch other animals. However Saola are unlucky enough to be caught which has led to an increase in them being eaten as bush meat.
A further reason is their beautiful horns. These horns are used in Chinese medicine and due to an increase in wealth in countries such as Vietnam the demand for Saola horn has increased. This has led to illegal poaching.
WWF have set up 2 conservation reserves to help boost their population and monitor these timid animals. This should decrease poaching and also prevent habitat loss from farming. Hopefully as we learn more about the Saola we can learn to better protect them.
Head to https://www.savethesaola.org/resources/gallery/ for further images of this illusive animal.