Facts about saola
Saola are one of the rarest large animals on Earth. They are so rare, in fact, that it is next to impossible to observe them in the wild. Scientists set remote cameras, triggered by movement, in order to be able to capture this rarity in a photograph, and managed to do so only four times since its discovery.
1They are one of the world’s rarest mammals.
Their current population is estimated at below 750 individuals.
2Saola are native to Annamite Mountains on the border of Vietnam and Laos.
3They resemble antelopes, but scientists place them as a member of the tribe Bovini.
4They are the only member of the genus Pseudoryx.
It is thanks to significant differences in behavior and appearance from other known species of the family Bovidae.
5Saola were first discovered in 1992 by Vietnamese biologist, Do Tuoc.
The discovery was officially announced by WWF on July 17th, 1992. It was not a living animal, however, that was discovered, but a horned skull. Since its traits differed significantly from any other known wild cattle species in Asia, it was assumed a new species.
6They reach 150 to 200 centimeters in length and weigh approximately 90 kg.
7They are distinguished by two, 50 centimeters long, sharp-edged parallel horns.
Horns are present in both males and females.
8Saola have dark, chocolate brown fur, with distinguished white markings along their jaws, on their neck, and above their eyes.
9Their tails are short, brown-beige-black.
10The average lifespan is believed to be 9 to 11 years in the wild.
They do not do well in captivity. In fact, every individual ever kept in captivity died of an unknown cause after a short period of time.
11Saola are both diurnal and nocturnal.
However, they are believed to prefer to rest during the day. Their primary activity occurs during twilight.
12Saola are mainly solitary.
They can, however, form herds of up to 7 individuals.
13Saola males are highly territorial.
They mark their territory with a highly scented substance produced in the maxillary gland.
14They are herbivores.
They feed on fig leaves, fruit, berries, and seeds.
15They fell prey to tigers and crocodiles.
16The mating season lasts from April to June in Laos, and from February to March in Vietnam.
17Saola give birth to one calf after 8 or 9 months of gestation.
Information about their reproductive behavior is scarce, however, since they can be hardly observed in the wild, and are very timid animals.
18In Vietnamese, Saola means “spindle horns.”
19The first photograph of Saola was taken in 1999.
Since then, scientists have managed to photograph Saola only three more times, the last time in 2013.
20They are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
They suffer from habitat loss and excessive illegal poaching, which has grown considerably in Vietnam since 1994.