The Saola, also known as the “Asian unicorn”, is one of the most distinctive and endangered large mammals in the world. No biologist has ever seen it in the wild and the only images of the species in the wild are from camera trap devices set up by conservationists in the forests of Lao PDR and Viet Nam. Since the species is so elusive and rare, few people are aware of the urgency of its conservation and how crucial it is to devote resources and conservation action before the species goes extinct and Viet Nam and Lao PDR lose one of their symbols of unique biodiversity.
Other name: Vu Quang Ox
What is WWF doing?
WWF has been involved with the protection of the Saola since its discovery. WWF's work to support the Saola focuses on strengthening and establishing protected areas, research, community-based forest management, capacity building, international collaboration, and law enforcement.
WWF has been involved in creating a plan for the management of protected areas and continues to work throughout the Saola distribution range in Viet Nam. We helped to improve the management of Vu Quang Nature Reserve, where the Saola was discovered, and we supported the establishment of two new adjacent Saola reserves in the Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam provinces. We lead Saola surveys, do research and play a very active role as national coordinators for the Saola Working Group, an international working group established by IUCN to save the Saola from extinction, working with local partners in both Viet Nam and Lao PDR.
WWF-Viet Nam, together with ReWild, Wroclaw Zoo, Asian Turtle Programme and Bach Ma National Park are leading the development and establishment of a Saola conservation breeding programme, with the centre located in Bach Ma National Park, Viet Nam. The centre will also serve as the first ex-situ breeding site for endemic and endangered Annamitic species of other ungulates (Large-antlered muntjac), Annamite striped rabbit, pheasants (Crested argus and Vietnamese pheasant), and turtles (Bourret’s box turtles and big-headed turtle) with the ambitious vision of supplying rewilding efforts across the Annamites range.
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