Why do Saolas need a breeding program?
An article from Tasmin Hansmann
Like many other species, the Saola is threatened by extinction. What makes them extra special is the fact that no scientist has ever actually seen one in the wild. In fact even camera-traps set in their forest home have failed to detect one since 2013!
The beautiful animals with their dark brown fur and white spots around their chins live in the Annamite Mountains in Vietnam and Laos, like the humid rainforest climate and can weigh up to 100kg with horns up to 50cm in length.
But that is pretty much the only information that was gathered since the official discovery in 1992.
Every Saola counts
There have only been 5 official sightings of the Saola in the wild, all of which happened through camera traps. Even the indigenous people of the region rarely spot them in the wild.
Most of the information about this mysterious animal is, therefore, a guess based on local indigenous knowledge, the observations of one previously captive animal, and the little field data available.
They tend to live by themselves and not in herds and are usually active during daylight and twilight hours. Both, males and females have similar horns. These days scattered individuals may survive across the Annamite Mountains, but it is completely unclear how big the entire population truly is.
The only thing certain: There are not many left. Poaching is threatening their lives and their habitat is becoming fragmented by roads and other infrastructure.
Now scientists estimate that there might be only about twenty animals left. Who might even be spread across different areas, unable to find each other.
Protection and Reproduction
As a consequence of this shocking prediction, the government of Vietnam is establishing a Saola conservation breeding program.
This is supposed to ensure that the species survives. As soon as the numbers rise, they will be rewilded and brought back into their natural habitat.
Together with organizations like Re:wild the effort is going to take place on two fronts. One is to bring the species back from the brink of extinction with the help of the breeding program, the other is to protect the actual animals from getting poached.
How you can help
We’re devoting the next 12 months of our lives to raising the money and awareness we need to stop species going extinct, and to put them back into recovery.
Our project brings together the best projects and thinking from 7 charities and a whole slew of experts from across the planet. Let this be the moment we say “NO MORE EXTINCTION” and start rebuilding their world, for all our benefits.
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Story developed with Karrueche Tran and Re:wild
Art by Extrafabulous Comics