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Were sao la seen in Quang Binh after 10 years of no sightings?

VietNamNet Bridge - Described as a timid species only living in primeval forests, sao la, or Asian unicorn, ( Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) have been spotted in the central province of Quang Binh.

VietNamNet Bridge - Described as a timid species only living in primeval forests, sao la, or Asian unicorn, ( Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) have been spotted in the central province of Quang Binh.


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Le Thanh Tinh, director of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, has confirmed that the camera trap at Phong Nha-Ke Bang captured an image of an animal believed to be a sao la on February 9.

The trap was set in the contiguous area between the buffer zone and core zone of the World Natural Heritage site of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.

“Some leading experts think this is a sao la. The possibility is very high if considering the horn of the animal. However, we still need more evidence and analyses for confirmation,” Tinh said.

No evidence of sao la in the area has been found over the last 10 years.

The park has taken conservation measures, including removing traps set by illegal poachers in the core and buffer zones.

Sao la are timid and mostly live in primeval forests, where there is no human intervention. “Sao la are very sensitive to the living environment. A man once caught a sao la in Laos, but it died a short time later

Sao la are timid and mostly live in primeval forests, where there is no human intervention. “Sao la are very sensitive to the living environment. A man once caught a sao la in Laos, but it died a short time later,” Tinh said.

“We still don’t know about their food and other habits. In general, it is difficult to conserve sao la with artificial methods,” he explained.

Van Ngoc Thinh from WWF noted that the typical characteristics of sao la such as the white spot on the forehead and horn could not be seen clearly on the image.

The image shows characteristics similar to Mang Truong Son’s (Muntiacus truongsonensis).

If the image is a sao la, this indicates that the sao la’s habitat area includes not only national parks mentioned previously, such as Pu Mat (Nghe An), Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue, but also Phong Nha-Ke Bang.

“This means that conservation work in Vietnam has worked well,” Thinh said. “This also shows Vietnam’s rich biodiversity.”

Sao La is one of the world’s rarest large mammals which is found only in Vietnam and Laos. The species was defined following a discovery of remains in 1992 in Vu Quang Nature Reserve. 

A living sao la in the wild was first photographed in 1999 by a camera trap set by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Another sao la individual was photographed in 2013 in the central province of Quang Nam.


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