The WWF reported yesterday that one of the most endangered mammals on the planet had been photographed in a Vietnamese forest.
The Saola was spotted in a remote conservation area. Fewer than 250 of the species are thought to exist in the whole world, so this discovery is very significant.
The Saola, famous for its pair of long and straight horns that are often very close together, resembling a unicorns’ headspike, has the largest scent glands in any recorded animal, and reportedly sprays scent when in danger. It is reported to be friendly around humans, but has evolved an unceasing cautiousness as the species lives in one of the most heavily fought-over areas of the world.
The Vietnamese government has established a local-operated conservation area to preserve the small populations of Saola that still exist, but the future of the animal is sadly not so definitely bright.
Video footage of the animal is incredibly rare, as would be expected, but in 2010 a group of locals captured one and recorded its behaviour. The Saola did sadly die before scientists could reach it, but a necropsy determined that the captured animal was definitely not an antelope.
Very little is known about the ‘unicorn’ species, but scientists and the WWF hope that the conservation efforts being made in Vietnam will at least help to maintain the existing populations to allow future scientific research.