An "Asian unicorn" has been caught on camera in Vietnam.
One of the rarest and most endangered mammals on the planet, the saola was recently photographed at a camera trap set up by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Vietnamese government's Forest Protection Department. According to the WWF, it's the first documented sighting of the animal in 15 years. Already at risk due to their small population, the saola also face threats from illegal snares set up for other animals like deer and civets.
“This is a monumental find and comes at a critical moment in time for saola conservation,” said Dr. Barney Long, the director of the Species Conservation Program at WWF. “It’s a huge reward for decades of tireless work by the provincial government that established the saola reserve, community snare removal teams and WWF biologists. Now it’s time to double our efforts to recover this iconic species.”
The horned-mammal, whose population is estimated at somewhere between a few dozen and a few hundred, was only formally "discovered" in 1992. Known to reside in Vietnam and Laos, it's a member of the Bovidae family (like cattle, water buffalo and bison), with an average height of 80–90 cm and weight of 90-100 kg. It gets its nickname from the rarity of its sightings, as well as its horns — although there are two, not one.
Conservation campaigns have been ongoing since 2011 to remove snares and stop illegal hunting of the animal.