The Saola Working Group (SWG) is part of the Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). The SWG was formed in 2006 in recognition of the need for urgent, coordinated action to save the Saola from extinction.
SWG is the main driver of Saola conservation while also advocating for the conservation of the globally significant Annamite Mountains as a whole.
Its mission statement is : “The Saola Working Group works collaboratively to conserve Saola in nature, and to leverage Saola as a flagship for conservation of the bio-cultural diversity of the Annamite Mountains as a whole.”
Collaboration is key to the SWG’s work. The SWG is not a stand-alone organization, but a collaborative partnership. The SWG currently has 30 members, drawn from range government partners and conservation organisations working in the Saola's range. SWG members are among the most experienced conservationists and biologists at work in Southeast Asia. This experience, and their close collaboration, are the SWG's central strengths.
ASAP Species That We Work On
The Saola is one of the most enigmatic animals in the world, but unfortunately also one of the most threatened. Found only in the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam, the Saola is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. There are few animals as phylogenetically distinctive, and so threatened with extinction, that receive so little conservation attention.
Saola’s decline is due mainly to intense levels of hunting and snaring in its range, for animals valued in traditional Chinese medicine and the bushmeat trade. Paradoxically, Saola is not a target species; the Chinese never knew the animal, and so Saola is unknown in the traditional East Asian pharmacopeia. Tragically, this magnificent species is being driven to extinction largely as a by-catch of hunting efforts targeting other species.
But this also presents an opportunity for its conservation. No poachers are racing conservationists to the last Saola, as they are the last rhinos and tigers in some areas. Thus there is an opening to save Saola, and it must be acted on now.
The most pressing priority is reduction of snares and illegal hunters in areas where Saola occur. If hunting levels can be reduced, the species' prospects are good, since habitat remains relatively plentiful.
What We Do
The SWG designs and coordinates Saola conservation projects, which bring bring scientists, local people, government officials, and conservation organizations together to save the Saola. Each project contributes to the overall conservation of Saola in Laos and Vietnam by improving our understanding of Saola status and natural history, building partnerships with local people for Saola conservation, and training conservation officers to reduce critical threats.
Find more details on the Saola Conservation Projects here: http://www.savethesaola.org/#/projects/4560959935
Where We Work
The Saola is found only in the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam
Web & Social Media
Ban Vangban village and W. Robichaud (featured image)