Central Vietnam approves reserve for endangered species

TN News

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The central province of Quang Nam has approved the building of a major reserve to protect the sao la, a critically endangered mammal species, and its natural habitat, Vietnam News Agency reported Saturday.

The sao la reserve will be located in northwest Quang Nam, and will include parts of forests in Tay Giang District's Bhalee and A Vuong Communes, and Song Kon and Talu Communes in Dong Giang District.

Construction of the 15,800-ha reserve is estimated to cost VND50 billion (US$2.4 million).

The project aims to protect the sao la and biodiversity in a place considered a top priority area for sao la conservation in Vietnam.

It also aims to raise the awareness of residents living in the buffer zone around the reserve of the importance of protecting the animal species.

A cousin of cattle, but recalling an antelope in appearance, the sao la was discovered in 1992 at the Vu Quang Nature Reserve near Vietnam's border with Laos by a joint survey team of what was then the Ministry of Forestry and the WWF (previously the World Wildlife Fund, now known as the World Wide Fund for Nature).

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The team found a skull with unusually long, straight horns in a hunter's home and knew it was something extraordinary. It turned out be one of the most spectacular zoological discoveries of the 20th century.

Twenty years on, little is known about the sao la. In 2010, villagers in the central Lao province of Bolikhamsai captured one of the animals, but it died several days later. Earlier, the last confirmed record of a sao la in the wild was in 1999 through camera-trap photos in Bolikhamsai.

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