Thursday, November 14, 2013

PHOTO and VIDEO: Extremely rare Asian 'UNICORN' spotted in Vietnam for first time in 12 years

The endangered saola is a mix between cattle and antelope and is one of the rarest and most threatened mammals on the planet

Rare: A female saola pictured at Lak Xao in the Lao province of Bolikhamxay

An extremely rare animal known as the 'Asian Unicorn' has been spotted for the first time this century in Vietnam.
The twin-horned saola is critically endangered, but the recent sighting has sparked hopes for conservationists of a recovery for the species.
The rare beast, which is a cousin of cattle but looks like an antelope, is known as the Asian Unicorn because of its elusiveness.
It was filmed in September after a camera trap was set up by WWF and the Vietnamese government’s Forest Protection Department in the Central Annamite mountains.
Dr Van Ngoc Thinh, WWF-Vietnam’s country director, said: “When our team first looked at the photos we couldn’t believe our eyes. Saola are the holy grail for South-east Asian conservationists so there was a lot of excitement."
He added: “This is a breath-taking discovery and renews hope for the recovery of the species.”

The saola has two sharp horns which can reach 50 centimetres in length, giving it the look of a fictional unicorn.
The last confirmed sighting of one in the wild was in 1999, from camera-trap photos taken in Laos.
One of the creatures was reportedly captured in August 2010 by villagers in Laos, but it died a few days after.
Dang Dinh Nguyen, director of Quang Nam’s Saola Nature Reserve, said: “This is an historic moment in Vietnam’s efforts to protect our extraordinary biodiversity, and provides powerful evidence of the effectiveness of conservation efforts in critical saola habitat.”
The WWF runs a law enforcement program which recruits forest guards from the local community to prevent illegal hunting.
Since 2011, they have removed 30,000 snares and destroyed more than 600 illegal hunters' camps.
Experts believe there are only a few left in the wild, perhaps less than 100.
The saola was discovered in 1992 by a joint team from Vietnam’s Ministry of Forestry and WWF surveying the forests of Vu Quang, near Vietnam's border with Laos, when they found the unusual skull in a hunter's home.
Source: Mirror


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