Reserve established for one of world's rarest animals
The rarity of the saola gives it mythical status in some parts of Asia, with some referring to it as Asia's "unicorn."
April 13th, 2011
07:02 PM ET

Reserve established for one of world's rarest animals

Vietnamese officials are setting up a nature reserve to protect one of the world's rarest animals, the saola, sometimes known as Asia's "unicorn."

A few hundred are believed to remain in the wild, inhabiting the Annamite Mountains along the border of Vietnam and Laos in Southeast Asia, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which, along with the Quang Nam Provincial Forest Protection Department, announced the establishment of the Saola Nature Reserve in the province.

None of the animals are in captivity, and the few that have been caught have survived only a short time, including one that villagers in Laos captured last year.

“The establishment of this new Saola Nature Reserve shows a strong commitment by the Vietnamese government and Quang Nam Province in the conservation of this highly threatened endemic species,” said Tran Minh Hien, country director of WWF-Vietnam, said in a press release. “This new reserve will create a biodiversity corridor connecting the East of Vietnam to West side of Xe Sap National Park in Laos.”

The saola is about 3 feet tall, weighs as much as 220 pounds and has two closely spaced horns that can reach almost 20 inches in length, according to the WWF.

WWF forest guards and rangers will patrol the area, looking for snares set for wild boar and barking deer that also could trap the saola. The animals also have been hunted for their horns, which are prized as trophies, according to the WWF.

The saola was first discovered in 1992, and the one captured in Laos last year was the first confirmed sighting of the animal since 1999, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The rarity of the saola gives it mythical status in some circles, according to that organization. Although the saola has two horns, it may be the basis of the Chinese unicorn, the qilin, the group says. It is unknown if the saola ever existed in China, however.

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Filed under: Animals • Nature • Vietnam
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Steve

    I im not mistaken, did a thing on this a while back. They have a pic of one of these guys that confrim it has one horn in the middle of its head. The scientific debate is weather it's one horn on that particular saola was the result of injury or genetic mutaion.
    Anyway, setting up a reserve will help other protected species in the area stay off the poaching block

    April 14, 2011 at 5:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. IrieMon69

    It's not a unicorn, it's a two-nicorn...get it 2-ni-corn! Ha-Ha! Thank you very much. I'm here all week! Please be sure to take care of your waiters, waitresses, and bartenders! Thank you, good night. Drive safe.

    April 14, 2011 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. travis fisher

    That animal is toast literaly to the vietkong as they eat anything that will boil in a hot pot.

    April 14, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. travis fisher


    April 14, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. travis fisher

    Or bun-icorn

    April 14, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. banasy

    Two-nicorn. Lol. Best one yet!

    April 14, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. banasy


    @Philip: What does banasy...whatever. LMAO mean?

    April 14, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. ed Bailey

    Hey lordbobo, I have a nice comfy set of railroad tracks you can sleep on. The engineer could be helped quickly with your writings then he would be proud!

    April 14, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. ramiz

    hee amazing job help there too ):

    April 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ournote2self

    They are beautiful animals. Hopefully they will be able to save them. Thanks for sharing your blog!

    April 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MadMatt

    The WWF made this announcment? Since when do professional wrestlers care about animals?

    I kid, I kid...

    April 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. batikmania

    I thought it is picture of Anoa, one of unique animal from Sulawesi island, Indonesia. I think Saola and Anoa are related 😉

    April 15, 2011 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Calogero Mira


    April 15, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. ลดความอ้วน

    They need to send Tom Cruise there to protect these "unicorns" just like he did as Jack in the movie Legend. Just leave Mia Sara, aka Lili behind though.

    April 18, 2011 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. Luis

    A horse! Yay!! I love these. I have been hanvig fun taking pictures with those little green maple buds lately. They are so pretty.

    February 12, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
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