The Saola or Vu Quang ox, also, infrequently, Vu Quang bovid (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), one of the world's rarest mammals, is a forest-dwelling bovine found only in Vietnam (Vu Quang Nature Reserve) and in Laos, near the Vietnam-Laotian border. Its name Saola means spindle-[horned]. The scientific epithet nghetinhensis refers to the two Vietnamese provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh while Pseudoryx acknowledges the animal's similarities with the Arabian or African oryx. The Hmong natives call this beast saht-supahp, a term derived from Lao meaning "the polite animal", because it moves quietly through the forest.
Saolas have only been known to zoologists since 1992, initially from unusual horns obtained in Vietnam. Analysis of morphology and DNA has revealed that this is a new bovine genus, related to cattle, nyala, kudu, and elands. Saolas are antelopes, in the sense that an antelope is any morphologically primitive bovine. It is not known how many individuals exist, as only 11 have been recorded alive.
Saolas stay in mountain forests during the wet seasons, when water in streams and rivers is abundant, and move down to the lowlands in winter. They are shy and never enter cultivated fields or come close to villages. To date, all known captive saolas have died, leading to the belief that this species cannot live in captivity.
Local populations report having seen saolas traveling in packs of two or three, rarely more.
Saola mark their territories by opening up a fleshy flap on their snout to reveal scent glands. They subsequently rub the underside against objects leaving a musky, pungent paste. The saolas' colossal scent glands are thought to be the largest of any living mammal.
The saola's last stand: wildlife experts say the rare Southeast Asian ungulate may soon disappear; a Vietnamese lab is undertaking a controversial attempt to clone it.(WILDLIFE CONSERVATION)
Dec 01, 2006; PU MAT NATURE RESERVE, VIETNAM -- Do Tuoc climbs a steep riverbank, entering the realm of the elusive Saola. The creature,...