Asian Unicorn Reserve Established in Vietnam to Protect the Species

A reserve for the so-called Asian unicorn, or the saola, was established in Vietnam to protect the rare species.

The saola, which may only be in the few hundreds, was only just discovered in 1992. Vietnamese researchers could only identify the species at first after discovering saola skulls with villagers in remote mountainous regions. It has been categorized as a critically endangered species.

The animal received its nickname Asian unicorn a year ago, but in truth actually has two horns.

"They obviously have two horns," said Barney Long to MSNBC, "but it is a cylindrical horn and pretty straight, so if you look at it from the side, it looks a bit like it has one horn."

Captivity for the creature can prove to be fatal. Villagers in Laos captured a male saola last year, and died after only a few days.

"When they're in captivity they seem to act extremely tame, and they're very open to having people come up to them and touch them," Long explained to MSNBC. However, their calm behavior is actually a function of their extreme stress.

"The animal is freaking out," he said.

The new reserve is the fourth set up in terrain thought to contain the saola.

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