The beautiful, little known and Critically Endangered species – the saola, was captured on camera earlier this month for the first time in almost 15 years.
The species was not discovered by scientists until 1992 and has since become known as the Asian Unicorn due to its mystical and elusive nature and its two long parallel horns, giving it the appearance of an antelope, despite being a bovine.
There is hope that this photo (snapped using a camera trap) is evidence of conservation efforts to protect the species, particularly focused around snare removal, are to some extent working. The soala while highly threatened, is not considered desirable in the wildlife trade industry and is instead caught as by-catch (accidentally) in the pursuit of more desirable (and easier to obtain) forest species.
The area where the species was pictured is one where forests guards, recruited from local communities by WWF and Vietnamese government counterparts, have been concentrating their efforts on collecting millions of snares. The species is also native to Laos where efforts continue to protect the species.
The Saola Working Group consists of all the key players in saola conservation. It has proved to be one of the most collaborative alliances known for a single species, working closely with local people, government officials and conservation organisations.
We, at Synchronicity Earth, are keen to add saola conservation to our species portfolio while there is still a window of opportunity in which the species can be saved from extinction. If you wish to find out more about how to help, please contact us.