The Vanishing Saola

Saola is a species of Asian wild cattle discovered in 1992 and considered one of the world's rarest mammals. The species has remained elusive, even after its discovery, and is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Saola are found exclusively in the Annamite Mountains in Vietnam and the Laos Peoples' Democratic Republic, and serve as a symbol of biodiversity for the region. The species numbers in the low hundreds at best and faces many threats, particularly incidental snaring, by far the most formidable to the species' survival.

AWI's wildlife research associate, Serda Ozbenian, is working with a group of five other wildlife conservation professionals to assist saola conservation efforts as part of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) program. The EWCL Saola Team is seeking to raise public awareness and generate funds for an integrated snare removal and community development project, as well as providing a ranger training workshop in Vietnam to improve snare removal initiatives. The team is working with experts from the World Wildlife Fund in Vietnam and the IUCN Saola Working Group. To assist their efforts, visit

EWCL is an initiative that brings together emerging leaders in the wildlife conservation field for capacity-building and intense training, including implementation of a two-year international wildlife issue campaign. EWCL is a collaborative effort between Defenders of Wildlife and the International Fund for Animal Welfare along with multiple wildlife conservation organizations, government agencies and private businesses.