By Jaymi Heimbuch, TreeHugger
One of the rarest and most elusive animals on the planet is the saola, a relative of the ox, though it looks closer to a deer or antelope with its dainty features and two distinctive horns. Two years ago, the species made news after the capture of a saola in the Annamite Mountains, an event that almost never happens. While the animal died shortly after being captured, it has helped conservationists understand much more about this virtually unknown mammal.
The saola is nicknamed the Asian Unicorn, not only for its physical features but also because none have ever survived in captivity. Still, conservationists created a nature reserve in central Vietnam for the critically endangered species. The Saola Working Group is focused on keeping the species alive and, hopefully, bringing numbers back up from decline due to hunting and snaring within its limited habitat, where it ends up as “by-catch.”
As the group states, “There are few animals as phylogenetically distinctive and so threatened with extinction, yet with so little conservation attention.”
Bill Robichaud, Coordinator of the IUCN/SSC Saola Working Group, will be speaking at the Wildlife Conservation Network Expo in San Francisco on October 13, 2012. It is rare that we get a chance to act on behalf of a species we didn’t even know about until so recently. If you’re in the area, mark your calendar to attend!
Image Credit: Silviculture