The Saola is one of the world’s rarest mammals, on the brink of extinction.
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NOTE: Thanks to Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism for this amazing picture that came from the BBC. (By the way Yves’ Blog is an excellent subscription if only for the wonderful daily animal pictures.)
If you, like me, had never heard of this creature then be prepared to weep a few tears; this beautiful animal is very unlikely to survive as a species for much longer.
Wikipedia has an entry that is informative. Here’s how the entry starts:
The Saola or Vu Quang ox, also, infrequently, Vu Quang bovid (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), one of the world’s rarest mammals, is a forest-dwelling bovine found only in Vietnam (Vu Quang Nature Reserve) and in Laos, near the Vietnam-Laotian border. Its name Saola means spindle-[horned]. The scientific epithet nghetinhensis refers to the two Vietnamese provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh while Pseudoryx acknowledges the animal’s similarities with the Arabian or African oryx. The Hmong natives call this beast saht-supahp, a term derived from Lao meaning “the polite animal”, because it moves quietly through the forest.
Saolas have only been known to zoologists since 1992, initially from unusual horns obtained in Vietnam. Analysis of morphology and DNA has revealed that this is a new bovine genus, related to cattle, nyala, kudu, and elands. Saolas are antelopes, in the sense that an antelope is any morphologically primitive bovine. It is not known how many individuals exist, as only 11 have been recorded alive.
We are at a point in history when we still have a small but rapidly closing window of opportunity to conserve this extraordinary animal. That window has probably already closed for another species of wild cattle, the Kouprey, and experts at this meeting are determined that the Saola not be next.
Here are some more pictures of the Saola:
And if you want to offer some support, read on.
The IUCN have a specialists group, the Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group (AWCSG).
The AWCSG comprises three working groups, one of which is the Saola Working Group.
If you are interested in providing help or support then there is a section on the IUCN web site that provides the necessary details.
Or to save you the bother, here are the details:
Please contact the Chair of the AWCSG, if you are interested in supporting the vital work of this Group:
Fax (from outside the UK): +44 1 295 680076 Fax (Within the UK): 01 295 680076
It would be a shame if our children could only see the Saola as a postage stamp!
By Paul Handover