Title

New sighting of so-called asian unicorn

Database

Electronic Media Monitoring Service 

Date

18-09-2010 08:25 AM

Source

ABC Canberra 666

Parl No.

 

Channel Name

ABC Canberra 666

Start

18-09-2010 08:25 AM

Abstract

 
End

18-09-2010 09:00 AM

Cover date

2010-09-18 08:25:35

Citation Id

328498

Enrichment

 
Reporter

JACKSON, Elizabeth

Speaker

KERIN, Lindy

URL

Open Item 

Parent Program URL
Text online

No

Media Deleted

False

System Id

emms/emms/328498

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New sighting of so-called asian unicorn -

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For the first time in more than a decade there's been a confirmed sighting of one of the rarest
animals in the world. The Saola was first discovered in 1992 and is listed as critically
endangered. The animal was captured by local villagers in Laos, but unfortunately died a short time
later.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: For the first time in more than a decade there's been a confirmed sighting of
one of the rarest animals in the world.

The saola that lives on the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam, was first discovered in 1992
and is listed as critically endangered.

The animal was captured by local villagers in Laos, but unfortunately it died a short time later.

Conservationists are hoping the sighting will help renew efforts to protect the species.

Lindy Kerin reports.

LINDY KERIN: It's often referred to as the Asian Unicorn, but the saola has two horns. To
conservationists it's one of the most mysterious animals in the world.

BILL ROBICHAUD: Conserving it is like conserving a unicorn because it's an animal that no-one has
ever seen, except local villagers - or has ever seen in the wild.

LINDY KERIN: Bill Robichaud from the International Union for Conservation of Nature heads the
program to protect the rare animal.

BILL ROBICHAUD: The animal was discovered to science in 1992 and it was probably the most
spectacular zoological discovery of the 20th century.

Here's an animal that weights almost 100 kilos, has these horns a half metre long, beautiful white
spots all over the face. It's very striking. This went completely unknown to the outside world
until 1992.

LINDY KERIN: The animal has been living in the forest along the Laos and Vietnam border for
millions of years but it's never been sighted in the wild by biologists. But now after more than 10
years there's been a confirmed sighting.

Bill Robichaud says local villagers recently captured an adult male saola.

BILL ROBICHAUD: We've heard conflicting stories, that they found it in a snare, caught by the foot
or their dogs chased it down and they caught it after their dogs brought it to bay. We've heard it-
both versions of the story.

The village is about two days' walks, or two days travel from the district town and they sent word
down somehow to the district that they had this soala. And this is a project area in which the
Wildlife Conservation Society has been working. So they and the Lao government put together a sort
of a rapid response team to go up to the village, gather as much information as they could quickly
from the animal and make sure that it was released to the wild as soon as possible.

But by the time they got up there the animal was so weak it couldn't stand up any more and it died
several hours later.

LINDY KERIN: He says another eight or nine animals taken into captivity have all died, most within
days. He says the animal is critically endangered and there could be between 12 and 100 left.

BILL ROBICHAUD: The problem with not having concrete evidence of the animal is now donors are a bit
reluctant because they say 'Well, how do you know it still exists?' So indisputable record of this
animal from this area of Laos is very important.

LINDY KERIN: The last confirmed report of the species was in 1999, when two photographs of wild
saola were taken by automatic camera traps.

Bill Robichaud is hoping the recent sighting will help renew interest in the rare animal and help
generate support for conservation efforts.

BILL ROBICHAUD: You have projects around the world which we should have, with full time people
spending millions of dollars to conserve orangutans, pandas, tigers, Asian elephants. This is all
needed. None of these are as remotely threatened with extinction as saola. But saola is just off of
peoples' radars.

LINDY KERIN: Local authorities in Laos and Vietnam are urging villagers in the area not to capture
the saola, and immediately release any they might encounter.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Lindy Kerin with that report.