In the forests of Indochina
Lives an ungulate of mystery.
You may never see it living
As the sunlight hits the trees.
The Saola (or the spindlehorn)
Has a discovery so young –
It’s less than thirty years we’ve
Known it and it’s barbed tongue.
Adept as a strict vegetarian
It feasts on plants and leaves
Solitary and hiding deep
To protect itself from thieves.
Saola! Play your hide-and-seek.
Do it well so none can find.
For your rarity adds value
Creating danger from mankind.
The Saola was discovered in 1992 and almost immediately earned a place on the endangered species list. It is the only member of its genus and incredibly hard to find. This lack of data makes it even harder to keep protected and it is not currently known how many still live.
It’s rarity makes a bold kill for local hunters. Due to the economic and cultural attitudes of its home region, it is an enormous challenge for conservationists to protect it from hunting. This is an area that survives on subsistence and eats what it can find. One great challenge of conservation is local attitudes – many sensible given living conditions. Can one ask humans to starve to protect an ungulate?
There is not much hope for the saola, but it remains a unique and beautiful creature.