Vietnam implements project to save one of the world's rarest mammals, the shy soala

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
February 24, 2010





Vietnam's central province of Thua Thien-Hue has approved a project to save the enigmatic saola. Listed as Critically Endangered, the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) —a type of forest antelope—is so rare and secretive that it was only discovered in 1992. It is considered by many to be one of the world's rarest mammals.

The project, funded by the Darwin Initiative, Cambridge University, and WWF, will be largely carried out by forest rangers during the next 33 months in Bach Ma National Park and a saola preservation zone. The project includes research, raising public awareness, and managing the protected areas to help the saola's survival.

"The animal's prominent white facial markings and long tapering horns lend it a singular beauty, and its reclusive habits in the wet forests of the Annamites an air of mystery," said Barney Long, of the IUCN Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group, last September at an emergency meeting to save the species. "Saola have rarely been seen or photographed, and have proved difficult to keep alive in captivity…Its wild population may number only in the dozens, certainly not more than a few hundred."

The saola's range extends along the Annamite Mountains in both Vietnam and Loas. The saola is threatened by poaching, dog-hunting, and loss of habitat largely exacerbated by road construction.




Captive female soala. No captive saola has survived longer than a few months. Copyright 1996 by W. Robichaud/WCS.




Wild Saola caught on film by an automatic camera-trap in central Laos in 1999. Photo by Ban Vangban village/WCS/IUCN.







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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (February 24, 2010).

Vietnam implements project to save one of the world's rarest mammals, the shy soala.

http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0224-hance_soala.html