A new protected area designed to save one of Earth's most mysterious and elusive creatures has been established in a lush, mountainous region of Vietnam, officials announced this week.
The creature, the saola (known colloquially as the "Asian unicorn") is a small, horned animal that resembles a strange goat-antelope hybrid, but is more closely related to a kind of wild cow.
"It's a very beautiful forest ungulate, and really looks like nothing else in Asia," said Barney Long, manager of the Asian species conservation program at the conservation group WWF and a key figure behind the creation of the newly established Saola Natural Reserve, which covers an area about three times the size of Manhattan along the Vietnam-Laos border.
Long said saola first got their mythical nickname a year or so ago — in spite of the fact that the animals have more than one horn.
"They obviously have two horns," Long said, laughing, "but it is a cylindrical horn and pretty straight, so if you look at it from the side, it looks a bit like it has one horn."
However, it was chiefly the animal's elusive nature that earned it the fairytale name, Long told OurAmazingPlanet. "It's so rare to see that it would almost be like seeing a unicorn," he said. More....