Sunday, January 6, 2013

Saola

Pseudoryx nghetinhensis
The Saola is a truly amazing animal, but it could be extinct very, very soon. What makes the species so remarkable is that it was only first discovered in 1992, which is an astoundingly long time for a 200+lb bovid to remain hidden away from the world. Also amazing? Scientists have documented less than half a dozen in the wild.

The species was first described from horns collected by hunters in the Annamite Mountain Range in Laos and Vietnam. The straight, Unicorn-like horns gives the species it's name, which translates to "spindle horns" in Vietnamese. They have brown coats and white markings on the face.

The animals have been seen alive by local people in the remote mountainous forests close by, and some have even been captured. Unfortunately, all Saola that have been captured alive have done very poorly. So far 11 have been captured, the most recent in August 2010. All perished, and we still don't know how many are actually out there. Habitat loss and poaching are major threats, and the animal is listed as Critically Endangered.

The World Wildlife Fund has been working to protect and conserve the Saola ever since their discovery 20 years ago. They have helped to improve the management of the Vu Quang Nature Reserve, have conducted surveys  and have helped to bring this animals plight into the international spotlight.


IUCN Status : Critically Endangered
Location : Vietnam and Laos
Size : Height up to 35in (90cm), Weight up to 220lbs (100kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Bovidae -- Genus : Pseudoryx -- Species : P. nghetinhensis

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