VietNamNet Bridge – Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) on Truong Son Mountains are
considered the most typical representatives for the biodiversity in Vietnam.
However, over the last 20 years, since the day saola was discovered, 3/5 of the
total saola individuals have disappeared.
The century’s discovery
In May 1992, saola was discovered for the first time in the world at the Vu
Quang National Park in Ha Tinh province. This was a great achievement of the
group of researchers, including Vu Van Dung, Nguyen Mong Dao, Do Tuoc and John
The discovery was described as the most impressive findings of the century which
stirred up the world science community. After that, saola was given the name
“the Asian unicorn.”
Saola is a mammal, which has been in the highest danger of getting extinct. They
live on the Truong Son Mountains, Vietnam, listed in the world’s Red Book.
No more than 200 individuals exist
Nguyen Xuan Dang, Member of the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources
has admitted that the humans’ knowledge about saola remains limited, despite a
lot of efforts to do research and preservation over the last 20 years.
Meanwhile, the situation of the saola populations tends to go worse.
The 2007 Vietnam’s Red Book listed saola as EN and IUCN. However, since 2010,
the danger level has been upgraded to CR – or very dangerous. It’s very
difficult to define the number of saola individuals existing in Vietnam.
However, Professor Dang believes that the number would not be higher than 200.
If it is true, this is really a failure in the preservation of the rare and
precious animal. In 1992, when discovering saola on Truong Son Mountains and
making field surveys, scientists believed that there were about 500 saola
individuals. Meanwhile, the figure has dropped dramatically to 200 just after 20
Scientists say they have proof showing that saola populations have been
separated into small groups which live separately from each other.
The Vu Quang National Park, where the first saola was discovered, said that four
years ago, a group of men were discovered killing a saola. The men ran away when
they were discovered, leaving the dead saola. No other saola individual has been
seen since then.
Bigger efforts needed
After saola were discovered, 10 big projects with international cooperation have
been carried out to preserve the rare and precious animal. However, Professor
Dang said the number of saola still has been decreasing rapidly because people
hunt for them, set traps to catch them and trade them for profits.
Dang has suggested that it’s necessary to gather strength on the two most
important regions for saola: Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam provinces, where there
are 40-50 individuals left, the southwest of Quang Binh province and the north
of Quang Tri provinces, where 30-40 saola are living.
The preservation of the 200 saola individuals left is really the duty of the
whole nation which needs the cooperation of the whole community. Scientists have
called on state management agencies to pay more attention to the species which
has been in danger.
They said that in order to protect saola, it’s necessary to build the habitat
areas with the space large enough to cover most of the small saola populations.
They have emphasized that if no drastic measure is applied right now, the
scenario of one horn rhino may repeat, which means that saola would disappear
from the world.