1. ITV Report

Rare mammal saola captured on camera for first time in 15 years

One of the rarest mammals on the planet was photographed in the wild for the first time in 15 years.

Pictures of the endangered saola were captured by a camera set up in Vietnam by the WWF and the country's Forest Protection Department.

The first pictures of the saola in the wild in 15 years were captured. Credit: WWF
The mammal is threatened by extinction due to illegal hunting in Vietnam. Credit: WWF

The mammal is threatened with extinction mainly due to hunting with 30,000 traps removed from the area since 2011.

This is a monumental find and comes at a critical moment in time for saola conservation.

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.

– Dr Barney Long, Director of Species Conservation Program at WWF

The wildlife charity and Vietnamese government have worked on a conservation plan to help save the elusive mammal, with forest guards from the local community being appointed to help remove snares and stop illegal hunting.

These are the most important wild animal photographs taken in Asia, and perhaps the world, in at least the past decade.

They are also inspiring evidence of the effectiveness of the forest guards model to keep saola from sliding into the abyss of extinction.

But more support is needed, so that WWF and other partners can scale up the initiative to additional parts of the saola’s range.

– William Robichaud, Coordinator of the Saola Working Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission

Since the saola's discovery in 1992, the rare mammal has only been documented in the wild by scientists on four occasions.

The mammal is a cousin of cattle but resembles antelope and is distinguished by its long horns and white facial markings.

The saola is usually found near Vietnam's border with Laos. Credit: WWF

The saola is usually found in the forests near Vietnam's border with Laos and little is known about the mammal's ecology or behaviour.

There are only thought to be at maximum a few hundred saolas left in the world but possibly as few as a few dozen.