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© WWF / David HULSE


Saola (a.k.a Vu Quang ox). Four - five month old female at the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute Botanical Garden. Hanoi, Vietnam
Shy, elusive and endangered
Discovered in May 1992, during a joint survey carried out by the Ministry of Forestry of Vietnam and WWF in the Vu Quang Nature Reserve (north-central Vietnam), the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) remains almost as elusive today as it was more than a decade ago.
Despite the little information available on this saola, there is no doubt that its existence is severely threatened. Since its discovery, it is believed to have rapidly declined in the face of ever-growing hunting pressure.

The entire population in Vu Quang Nature Reserve is unlikely to be more than 100 animals.

The principal threat to the saola is the snares the local hunter set in the forest. These snares are usually set for wild boar, sambar or barking deer, which are hunted for their meat. But being non-selective, the snares also trap saola. Read more about hunting and the illegal wildlife trade.

The saola's habitat is also being lost and degraded due to shifting cultivation in Lao, and increased infrastructure development in the Vietnamese Truong Son. Read more about habitat loss.

An exciting discovery
The discovery of the long-horned bovid is a significant event in the history of mammalogy. During the last 100 years, only five new species of large mammals have been discovered. The last one, the Kouprey (Bos sauveli), was discovered in Cambodia in 1936 and was described as a new species in 1937

A conservation priority
The saola is a flagship species of conservation work in Vietnam and in Lao PDR, as well as the pride of the Greater Mekong's biological values.

The saola's rarity, distinctiveness and vulnerability make it one of the greatest priorities for conservation in the region.