Saola is threatened primarily by hunting , rather than habitat loss. The main hunting threat comes from commercial poaching, not subsistence hunting by local people. In Southeast Asia, most endangered species of wildlife are threatened by targeted offtake for the wildlife trade, either for bushmeat or traditional Asian medicine.
I IUCN Critically Endangered Large-antlered Muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis) dead in a snare in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area, Lao PDR. Saola is now distributed in several isolated, small subpopulations.
A common query we ran across in our research was “Can You Help Us Save the saolas?”.
Another answer was Let us help save the saolas and our planet. There are so many other critically endangered, endangered and threatened species all over the planet in various habitat / ecosystem. We have also lost so many other species due to the destruction caused by humans apart from natural catastrophes.
The main habitat of the Saola is wet evergreen or deciduous forests throughout eastern Indochina. They are mostly found near rivers and in valleys often in really steep between 300 – 1800 metres above sea level. Aversion to human proximity – this is one of the major keys for Saola populations as they like remoteness from human disturbance.
How is the saola being threatened?
The added pressure from rapid and large-scale infrastructure in the region is also fragmenting saola habitat. Conservationists are concerned that this is allowing hunters easy access to the once untouched forest of the saola and may reduce genetic diversity in the future.
One article stated that this either fragments the saola population or reduces the size of their habitat. Fragmentation will also decrease genetic diversity and create issues like inbreeding. Decrease in the size of habitat also makes the saolas more vulnerable in the sense that they are in easy access to the hunters.
How are saolas affected by human activities?
Humans destroy the forests where saolas live and use them for agriculture and other infrastructures. This either fragments the saola population or reduces the size of their habitat. Fragmentation will also decrease genetic diversity and create issues like inbreeding .
What is the SWG doing to help saola conservation?
Since 2011, the SWG and its partners have focused on improving protection at five protected areas believed to be key for saola conservation, in Lao PDR and Vietnam. Since inception of the program, patrol teams recruited from local villagers have removed more than 130,000 wire snares from these areas.