New Saola Encountered, Dies

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 17th, 2010

Earlier saola photo (above) by Alan Rabinowitz now joins the newest ones coming out of Laos.

The saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), discovered less than twenty years ago, is still one of the world’s least frequently seen animals. Word is reaching the West that one was encountered in August 2010, caught alive, and then died in captivity. Such events are so rare, news of the incident is beginning to be widely reported by the Asian media and BBC News. Dozens of press articles on the news are appearing this morning.

The event is noteworthy. No zoologist or wildlife biologist has ever reported seeing a saola in the wild and there are none in captivity. The conservation group International Union for Conservation of Nature, which classifies saolas as critically endangered, notes there has not been a confirmed sighting of these animals in over ten years.

The saola are rarely encountered, let alone photographed.

Reportedly villagers from Laos’ central province of Bolikhamxay caught a adult male saola earlier this August, and brought it back to their village.

The villagers photographed the strange-looking mammal and then notified the Lao authorities. Unfortunately, by the time the Bolikhamxay Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office team reached the remote location, the saola had died in captivity.

“The death of this Saola is unfortunate. But at least it confirms an area where it still occurs and the government will immediately move to strengthen conservation efforts there,” said a spokesperson of the provincial conservation unit of Bolikhamxay province, as reported by Katia Moskvitch, science reporter of the BBC News.

Sadly the meeting ended tragically, but maybe it will lead to renewed conservation efforts.

It will be recalled that the saola was found in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos in 1992 by a team of scientists from the Vietnamese Ministry of Forestry and the World Wildlife Fund. The species was, at the time, the first large mammal to be discovered anywhere in the world since 1936.

The saola is a primitive member of the Bovidae family, which includes antelopes, buffalo, bison, cattle, goats and sheep. Although very little is known about the species, its global population is thought to be no more than 250 individuals, and its distribution highly restricted to only six provinces in Vietnam and four in Laos. The largest population thought to be found in the far south of the saola’s distribution range in Vietnam on the border between Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam provinces where nature reserves have been established in recent years.

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Thank you.


Tip of the hat to Roddy Hayes of Legend Lures.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

13 Responses to “New Saola Encountered, Dies”

  1. DWA responds:

    One amusing reflection I had after reading this is that there is far less evidence for the saola than there is for the Sasquatch and the Yeti.

    I’m not totally sure this whole thing isn’t faked. Compared to those other two animals, faking every single scrap of evidence for the saola would be a cinch. That animal does look pretty weird. And you are telling me we had like two major wars in its territory, and no one reported seeing even one?

    Sounds fishy to me. And familiar. 😉

  2. Harold responds:

    What did the saola die from? Strangulation? It looks like it’s tethered in at least two different directions. Is it already dead in those photos?

  3. Cass_of_MPLS responds:

    This should explain to any skeptic just why such creatures as Bigfoot avoid prolonged contact with humans.

    It can be hazardous to your health.

  4. korollocke responds:

    How could anyone think this is fake? Seriously? I saw the first two back in 92, before that skulls and antlers that were keep by hunters who had killed them. The first pair also died in captivity.One set of antlers showed the existances of a completely different animal all together. Here we actulally have clear film footage and complete bodies as proof not “questionable foot prints, blurry photos, and exciting but unprovable tales.” .

  5. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Open question for the cryptozoological community:

    Would you ever want to see Bigfoot held captive in a zoo facility?

    Ditto for Nessie, Ogopogo or Mokele Mbembe…

  6. Mr. Elekom responds:

    About Would you ever want to see Bigfoot held captive in a zoo facility?

    Ditto for Nessie, Ogopogo or Mokele Mbembe…

    I think it all depends on what you think they are. If you think bigfoot is a relative to humans I don’t think you would. If you think BF is an animal like a rhino, elephant, or even fish, I don’t see any problem with it being in a zoo.
    Although ogopogo would need a big tank.

  7. korollocke responds:

    I’d shell out the bucks to go a cryptid zoo/park… just hope the power doesnt fail and we have run for our lives from a pack of near humanly intelligent moa birds ala like the ones in the book the Flock or have to be meanced by giant Guy N. Smith crabs; clickity click….

  8. DWA responds:

    “How could anyone think this is fake?”

    Simple. Ever seen a saola, in the flesh? Personally, yourself?

    That simple.

    I don’t think it’s fake either. I have less reason to think the saola is fake than I do to think the sasquatch is fake, because the former has been proven to science’s satisfaction. I’m just trying to make a point that non-scientific thinkers simply don’t get when it comes to crypto: EVIDENCE COUNTS.

    Whether proof, or not.

    Lots of people – far, far more than claim to have seen a saola, by orders of magnitude – claim sasquatch and yeti sightings. They run the gamut of education and social class. The pattern of encounters follows, pretty much exactly, that for all other large animals we know of, in that those in their territory most often have the most sightings, and they happen where the mass of other reports would lead one to suspect they would happen. In their own vernacular, witnesses describe very consistent features – down to hair length, head shape, nose shape, relative size of hands, fullness of lips, extreme muscularity, speed and athleticism – you get the idea. Included among their number are scientists, with knowledge in relevant fields. These scientists have examined forensic evidence – yes there IS – and come up with consistent findings on that evidence. The scientific mainstream – which society depends upon, utterly, for proof – simply refuses to follow up. For a variety of reasons, some of them (I have a job doing another kind of science) valid.

    As I’ve never seen a saola, why should I have any more reason to discount someone who seems sincere and gave a good description of a sasquatch? Any scientist who is being honest would tell you: there is no logical reason; to do so without evidence that one should do so is to jump to the exact sort of conclusion logic resists. When people describe something that is consistent with the mass of reports; when there is no reason to think it’s a copycat report or a hoax (not so fast! You need EVIDENCE before you make those pronouncements), and when the mass of descriptions describe a perfectly plausible animal…then you have frequency (lots of reports) and coherence (they all check generally with one another). Any scientist being honest would tell you that you have a basis, right there, for further scientific investigation of the phenomenon, because frequency and coherence alone tell you that you are likely to find an unrecognized source for all that evidence.

    No proof is NOT a logical reason. Proof doesn’t happen when evidence isn’t followed up and the follow-up accepted by the scientific mainstream. That’s science’s job; and science has been lax when it comes to the sasquatch.

    It is far, far more plausible to believe that a wild ape-man runs over the North American continent – frequently reported but never truly investigated, leaving lots of evidence of its passage that is thrown out without review because of a pigheaded refusal to believe something like this even possible – than to think that a 300-pound ox, a quite “believable” animal and kind of a dumb one compared to an ape, could wander through three (I said two; it’s three) WARS in its territory in the past sixty years alone and go unconfirmed by science.

    Yet the latter happened. And the former, remember, is more plausible. And that all of that evidence has been faked? Please. Faking the saola would be much easier. If you doubt that, you need to get acquainted with the evidence. No one who thinks that the sasquatch, or the yeti, aren’t real is acquainted with the volume and depth of the evidence. That’s a fact, not an opinion.

    So it’s not that I think the saola is fake. It’s just that anyone familiar with the other two critters knows that they aren’t any less plausible.

    Fact, not opinion.

    Which takes me to my next question: why does no skeptic debate this with a scientist who disagrees with him…? I’d pay money to hear that one.

    (Back to the saola. Off soapbox.)

  9. DWA responds:

    Whoops. Correction.

    I said in my last post “I have less reason to think the saola is fake than I do to think the sasquatch is fake, because the former has been proven to science’s satisfaction.”

    That is clearly wrong. But if you read my post, I corrected myself.

    So let me restate this properly.

    “Although the saola has been proven to science’s satisfaction, and the sasquatch has not, there is no more reason to think that the sasquatch is fake than that the saola is. Any protestation to the contrary bald-facedly broadcasts ignorance of the evidence.”

    Thank you.

  10. Krimeg responds:

    And what’s about the Kouprey ( Bos sauveli ) ?

    I think it’s even more endangered than the Saola…

  11. DWA responds:

    Krimeg: well, that’s the thing about the kouprey. No one even is close to knowing its current status. It could be extant, it could be extinct.

    And that’s a cow, ferpetesake, living in a very small area compared to the above cryptids. That science recognizes and has been actively seeking for decades.

  12. korollocke responds:

    Get real, it’s real there living and dead specimens that say so. What proof exist of bigfoot and yetis, blurry pics and films, so called casts of “foot Prints”.

    Tom’s bear paw in a jar he claims is bigfoot’s hand and that “toe nail” from awhile back?

  13. DWA responds:

    Read my posts over and over ’til you get them.

    (I do have to say: spending much time here and remaining ignorant of evidence strikes me a waste of time. READ UP.)

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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