Saving Saola – Let’s Seize This Moment!

This is an opportunity to save a species from extinction; the Saola Foundation's reaction to the IUCN Species Survival Commission Position Statement on the Conservation of Saola (19th August 2021).

Lorraine Scotson, CEO, Saola Foundation for Annamite Mountains Conservation

The release of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Position Statement on the Conservation of Saola (August 2021) is a bright beacon of hope for anyone concerned on whether there is still time to save Saola. The answer is a clear ‘yes’, and the SSC Position Statement is a call to seize this opportunity, to leverage existing political support, and to use the bank of available knowledge and expertise from the field and in conservation breeding. The Saola Foundation is ready to help. We stand at a defining moment in conservation history, and we need the world to join us.

Saola conservation is brimming with opportunity. The governments of both Lao PDR and Vietnam are eager to see progress in saving this endemic icon of the Annamite Mountains. Coupled with this positive political environment, the past decade has seen significant knowledge gain in potential ways by which to find Saola in the wild. By engaging with local communities in the Saola’s range, and by developing and trialing field methods to detect Saola, experts have reached a clear understanding of what it will take to find, and thus save, the last Saolas.

The SSC Statement, jointly led by IUCN’s Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) and Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group, observes that very little of potential range has yet been properly surveyed for Saola - as little as 2%! The Saola Foundation welcomes this Statement as an endorsement of our mission: to generate the financial support and to mobilize the required field effort for an unprecedented and successful search for Saola in the wild in Lao PDR – the necessary first step to save this amazing species.

Deploying methods to effectively search for Saola in the wild is a resource problem, not a technical one. Our small team of deeply committed field conservationists, with decades of collective experience in Saola range, understand the scale of the problem and the tools and technology required to solve it. Our key challenge is to close the gap in the financial support needed and to launch what will be one of the most exciting, and important, wild animal searches of our time.

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