"We are not simply looking for a rare species, we are looking for the last few individuals of a highly elusive species on the brink of extinction. The future search effort must be unprecedented and intensive in a way almost unimaginable compared to what has been done before."

                                                                         Rob Timmins, Chief Technical Advisor, Saola Foundation 

Technical challenges in searching for Saola

We are looking for a maximum of 100 Saolas, scattered throughout a remote area equivalent in size to the French Alps (for Europeans) or the state of New Jersey (for Americans), an alternately hot and steamy, cold and wet, dense, steep forest, reachable only on foot. 

 

Some Unknowns:

 

  • We don't know where any individual Saola is; we are searching 'cold'.

  • We don’t know the average amount of effort it will take to cross paths with a Saola AND recognize that path; even with the best human tracker on the planet we'd probably miss the path a few times before recognizing it.

  • We still have a great deal to learn about types of distinctive sign that Saola leave in the forest, which could be used to find and track them. 

  • Without knowing how to target the most likely areas for Saola presence, detecting Saola by camera-traps is an equally daunting challenge; results for rare but much more common species than Saola indicate the probability of detection of a single Saola individual is extremely low even with hundreds of camera-traps.

 

Key Questions:

 

  • Is it possible to develop search strategies where we have reasonable certainty in the level and consistency of effort required, so that we can be confident in detecting Saola if they are present in an area?

  • Can we pinpoint a Saola’s current location with enough accuracy that it could then be safely captured?

  • Is the detection process feasible in terms of both funding and timescale to make saving Saola from extinction possible?

 

The Solution (stacking the odds in Saola's favor):

  • Enlist expert local and international wildlife trackers.

  • Focus on areas where our current body of information indicates that Saola are most likely to be found.

  • Search strategically to increase time in 'micro-habitats' more likely to encompass Saola 'paths'.

  • Deploy as many eyes skilled eyes (and appropriate technical tools) as possible to search.

  • Learn by doing; all efforts must directly lead to increased knowledge and improved skill and effectiveness at finding Saola; the more we search, the more we learn.

  • Educate, inspire and recruit patient, understanding and committed supporters, who will help us see the process, including the difficult times, to a successful end.  

 In securing a future for saola, half measures will achieve/gain us nothing.

 

Please reach out to our Technical team with any questions via the contact form

 512 N 50th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53208 USA

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