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. kim

    Cute save the two horn unicorn

    April 13, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cesar r

    At ah girl Kim, that's the spirit.

    April 13, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jazzzzzzzz

    Beautiful creature

    April 13, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. conor

    protect what we can

    April 13, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bbare89

    How the hell can a unicorn have 2 horns?

    April 13, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladylike

      I thought the same thing.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • It definitely has one "corn"

      You guys need to put the joint down and look again. I see two ears, the corn, and... a thin tree trunk. Look below the neck for continuity.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cpuls

      Right!? how can a unicorn have two horns????

      April 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • wzrd1

      So, the person who named it that wasn't a math major. Sue them!

      April 13, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wae'

      A UNIcorn with two horns......OooooKaaay :-/

      April 13, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      The horns are very close together, and look like one. Most horned animals have horns that are far apart, and can be distinguished when seen from the side. They should have shown more than one picture, but this may be the only picture they have. Animals used to be named for how they looked, not what they really were: there are several that are totally misnamed.

      April 14, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • whocares

      http://www.earthwatch.org/europe/images/Newsroom/Science/saola1.jpg

      April 14, 2011 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
    • VegasRage

      @It definitely has one "corn": And you need to quit looking at the pictures and actually read the article. It say "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."

      April 14, 2011 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
    • It definitely has one "corn" now but later it won't

      After reviewing the play, it was determined that the Saola does have two horns, 5 yard penalty, Offense. http://www.pattayadailynews.com/en/2010/09/17/critically-endangered-species-caught-in-by-laotian-villagers/ SO why would they even think it's a unicorn, it looks like it at that one angle sure but when they get big you can tell it isn't.

      April 14, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cesar

    Nancy, YOUR COMMENT IS AWAITING MODERATION

    April 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      Cesar. Thanks for the update...Here, moderate THIS!

      April 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      @ Nancy , You go girl:)

      April 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • mania

      Nancy what did you say???

      April 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      I said just keep this animal away from hungry asians. Run saolo, run!

      April 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    Yeah, beautiful. I recall seeing this animal years ago. Good to see there is an attempt to include them in our equation. (howdy Jazzy! hee-heee, ran into you again!)

    April 13, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Daniel Stehman

    Nancy, your comment was not intended to be a factual statement. Though, it was funny.

    April 13, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jazzzzzzzz

    Hey Phillip, Going to bed in 20 so if I don't catch u tonight see u later:)

    April 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cesar

    Gasp! My goodness, Nancy. Please!

    April 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. LordBobo

    There's a delicious local soup made from these little beauties. It's a shame that the liberal WWF has expanded it's reach to asia. If we can manage to cut back on enough social programs in the US, then all the bleeding hearts can concern themselves with domestic issues, rather than funding unnecessary groups such as the WWF.

    April 13, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephen Hawking knows more than you

      Stephen Hawking disagrees with LordBobo, who has the intelligence of a Higgs boson.

      April 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladylike

      LordBobo is an IDIOT.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • LordBobo

      I'm sure it took Hawking over an hour to type that worthless reply with his eyes. That's one hour closer to death you Godless heathen.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      Bobo... says it all. What do lord over, BTW? Imaginary serfs residing on bathroom floor tiles that you oversee while on the john?

      April 13, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephen Hawking knows more than you

      LordBobo

      "I'm sure it took Hawking over an hour to type that worthless reply with his eyes. That's one hour closer to death you Godless heathen."
      --------
      Over an hour, Bobo? The time stamp clearly shows a 13 minute gap between our posts. Congrats. It took you only one post to prove my "Bobo has a low IQ" hypothesis correct.

      April 13, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • cynos

      There's a delicious local soup I can make from the flesh of LordBobo. I'll stuff the rest of his worthless carcass down a sewer hole. No one will care.

      April 13, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      At least liberals pay their taxes, and provide you with lovely parks so that in future generations you can turn them into parking lots and hotels and make a lot of money on tourism. This cute little animal horrifies you because it reminds you that you are alive and not a robot (or bobo, a drunk robot).

      April 14, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. julie

    wwf is crucial to saving animals. why don;t you get off your butt and save dogs chained to a tree in soakland Ca beaten frightened and starved, overbred, fought animals need help ok If it ws not for them animals would suffer. People like wwf, houston spca and many others are out there trying to save what we have left ok. what you men touch you destroy its called greed. its called slater of animals and wildlife, poaching. game warens put their life on the line to save animals be thankful for them, I prefer animals to people.

    April 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yego

      Nice time to include a shot at men there. I'm pretty sure women kill animals too, and I'm also sure that they eat meat. There's a little thing called the food chain, and it means that weaker, less adaptive animals get eaten... regardless of how "cute" they are. Stop trying to change nature. Things that are not sufficiently equiped to survive die. Trying to save everything is the reason that we are sucking the life out of this planet, specifically trying to save people that don't need saved. Any animal, human or otherwise, that is not fit to survive should not be made a parasite to the rest of the world. Call me callous, but in reality it's just the truth. This mentality is why we're so overpopulated and actually inhibits the evolution of the world.

      April 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jazzzzzzzz

    Night all. May peace find you.

    April 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy

    Be vewwy vewwy quiet...we aw hunting LordBobo! Soup's on!

    Seriously cute little chap, though.

    April 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      If he eats real food.

      April 14, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. ladylike

    What a beautiful animal. Didn't know it existed. Hope they can save it from poachers.

    April 13, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
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