The phenomenal recent discovery of the species saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), was found in the Annamite Mountains along the Laos/Vietnam border in 1992. The saola was the first latest large mammal to be discovered in over 50 years, making it one of the biggest zoological discoveries of the 20th century. Also known as the “Asian unicorn,” the rare saola species prefer living in moist, dense evergreen forests with little or no dry season. The saolas have been attempting to survive in the condensed regions of the subtropical evergreen or mixed evergreen and deciduous forests, only found within the Annamite Mountain Range along the northwest-southeast Vietnam-Laos border (Holcomb). The area of the narrow range of the forests that the saola used to inhabit was is 5,000 to 15,000 sq. km, although they don’t inhabit in this area anymore. The saolas’ extremely scarce numbers make their dispersal difficult to determine; currently, they are known to be densely populated into the decreasing area of the evergreen forests and travel mainly individually and occasionally in clumped dispersion. They have been mainly sighted nearby streams, most likely to survive off of the water and possible supplies nearby. Saolas also tend to live on the borderlines of the forests; they currently inhabit the mountain forests during the wetter seasons and live in the lowlands during the winter. Saola are currently known to be herbivores, eating leafy plants, fig leaves, and stems along the rivers, observed from locals that have sighted them. And their shelters that they specifically reside in are unknown.
According to recent studies, the saolas are categorized as critically endangered, with its population size estimated to the miniscule numbers from 70 up to 700 (Timmins). This declining population of the saola is mainly caused by deforestation of their habitat and poachers’ pursuits of catching prey within that region.
Around the Annamite Mountain Range, lumberjacks are tearing down the trees down to make room for agriculture, farming, and infrastructure, creating this exploitative competition from removing large parts of the habitat for the saolas. And because of the decrease of the habitat area, the saola are forced to clump in this fragmenting area in order to obtain the resources they need to survive in the small ecosystem they inhabit. The deforestation of the Annamite Mountain range not only affects the saola, but the rich genetic diversity of the rainforest as well.The smaller habitat region of the saola also facilitates catching them as prey by their predators.
Their natural predators are larger animals that roam around the area, such as tigers and crocodiles; however, their real predators are humans. With the high demand for supplies in the medicine and bushmeat trade, many animals, are hunted down as food for the local villagers in Vietnam and in China at restaurants and food markets; and saolas, useless in the traditional trade of medicine, end up becoming...