‘Asian unicorn’ caught on film for first time this century

This camera trap photo taken on Sept. 7 2013 at early evening shows a single saola moving along a rocky forest valley stream in a remote corner of the Central Annamite mountains of Vietnam. (WWF-Vietnam)

WASHINGTON – An animal so rare it’s called a unicorn has had its picture taken for the first time this century.

The saola, or “Asian unicorn” was caught on film on an automatic camera set by the World Wildlife Fund and the Vietnamese government. The critically endangered antelope-like creature is more closely related to cattle, has two horns and is about 4 feet long.

“This is a breath-taking discovery and renews hope for the recovery of the species,” said Dr. Van Ngoc Thinh, WWF-Vietnam’s country director in a news release.


A photo of the saola taken in 1996. (WWF)

The last pictures of the elusive saola were taken in 1999. One of the animals was captured in 2010 but died. Saola were first discovered in 1992.

The saola is a protected species but traps set to capture other animals, such as deer, continue to put it in danger. Laws are implemented in known areas where saola live and more than 600 illegal hunting camps have been destroyed since 2011.

Read more about the saola on the World Wildlife website.

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