People sometimes call the Saola the Asian Unicorn, due to its appearance. This highly reclusive creature remains one of the rarest mammals on earth and represents a genetic cousin of the cow, antelope, and goat.
This rarely seen bovine evolved as endemic only to the Annamite Range of Vietnam and Laos, in Asia. The unique animal stayed entirely unknown to the outside world until 1992.
Its habitat primarily includes the monsoon forests of the region. In early November of 2014, an automated camera spotted a single Saola This formed the first reported sighting in almost 14 years.
Saola Physical Characteristics
Information about the Saola remains exceedingly scarce, and we, therefore, know only a few things about them. Based on the few individuals captured, adult Saola appear to average about 35 ins (90 cm) at the shoulder, and 5 ft (1.5 m) in total body length.
Their adult weight seems to average roughly 220 lb (100 kg). They predominantly show a light to dark brown color, and also scattered patches of white in their markings.
The most striking feature of this animal is a pair of long horns. These grow closely spaced and sharply angled in relation to their body. From a distance these appear as one horn, giving rise to their common name.
Saola Endangered Status
A precise count of the number of Saola seems impossible due to the fact that most of their habitat continues to be virtually inaccessible. However, a projection concerning their numbers does exist.
Based on a combination of unconfirmed reports from local villagers, and physical evidence such as tracks and camera trap sightings, researchers estimate that no more 300 still exist.
The few Saola captured never live more than a short time, which forms a tendency that to date remains unexplained. Given these facts, the IUCN officially lists them as Critically Endangered.