In the early 1990s scientists discovered two large mammals—the saola, a deer-like animal with long swept back horns, and the giant muntjac, another deer-like mammal—that were new to science, a feat many though was next to impossible. Scientists also found a new species of squirrel and rabbit as well as several new fish and birds and a tortoise with a bright yellow shell. The Vietnamese wart pig, last seen in the wild by Westerners 100 years ago, was seen in the wild in 1995 in Laos. AFP reported: “Biologists have been stunned to find that Vietnam, shut off for decades by war and politics, has rainforests far more species-diverse than previously known. A one-horned rhinoceros thought extinct in mainland Asia was rediscovered and biologists found three new deer species, 63 vertebrates and 45 unknown fish, says the recently-published 'Vietnam: A Natural History'. Yet scientists are racing against time to catalogue the new animals before they are gone.”

John Balzar wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “In 1992, Western scientists cataloged the "discovery" of the planet's largest new mammal in more than half a century, a forest-dwelling ox named the saola. Not merely a new species, it represented an entirely unrecorded genus of life. As of the June publication of "Vietnam: A Natural History," scientists still had not sighted another free-ranging saola in the wild, although villagers sometimes kill an animal for meat. “Since then, researchers in Vietnam have identified three new species of deer and a striking striped rabbit — 63 new terrestrial vertebrates and 45 fish. An animal once thought extinct on the Asian mainland, the lesser one-horned rhinoceros, was rediscovered. A wild pig, a monkey, a pheasant and at least two other varieties of birds have been re-sighted almost a century after they were identified and then vanished from scientists' view. [Source: John Balzar, Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2006 ]

“The era of grand biological discovery pretty much ended long ago across most of the globe. Not so for Vietnam, which continues its struggle to emerge from the darkness of war.This natural history, compiled by three scientists from the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at New York's American Museum of Natural History, is the latest chapter in the postwar development of one of the world's most remarkable, and mysteriously rich, landscapes.

“A comprehensive and knowingly illustrated scientific work that hints of more discoveries to come, the volume is engagingly readable. It deserves attention from those with a curiosity for contemporary biological exotica, as well as the increasing legions of tourists bound for the socialist republic, not just on account of rare and odd things that inhabit the east coast of Indochina but also because of the staggering variety of everyday flora and fauna. A nation about 20 percent smaller California with more than twice as many residents, Vietnam now faces a paradox of a more familiar kind. Even as new animals and plants are discovered, they are being jeopardized by roads, an expanding population, over-harvesting and pollution. Perhaps tourism, an important pillar of the government's economic growth plan, will forestall some of the damage — if visitors and residents alike truly comprehend the bounty before them.”


In May, 1992 the first large mammal discovered in over 50 years, was found in an area of unmapped tropical rain forest near the Laos border in Vietnam. The animal was dubbed the the saola, or Vu Quang ox after the region it was found. The last time such a large species was discovered was when a species of wild cattle was found in northern Cambodia in 1937. That species is probably now extinct.

It is believed that there about only 200 saola left. Some animals have been taken for food by tribesmen who hunt them with snare traps or dogs who pursue the animals to accessible riverbanks. Laotian hunters have used horns from the animals to make racks and ceremonial altars, not realizing the animal is endangered. At least six of these animals were found in 1994. Two adolescent ones were captured and taken to a botanical garden in Hanoi, where they died from an infection in their digestive tract. Vietnamese scientists made calls to zoologist around the for advise on how to help them.

The saola is also known as Vu Quang ox, spindlehorn and pseudoryx. It weighs about 100 kilograms and stands 80 to 90 centimeters at the shoulder. It was classified as a kind of wild cattle even though it has 20-inch-long backward-pointing horns similar to horns of a goat.

The saola was described by Barbara Basler in the New York Times as "a cowlike creature with a the glossy coat of a horse, the agility of a goat, and the long horns of an antelope. Know to local people as the "forest goat" or "spindle horn," DNA analysis of 11 Vu Quang ox specimens, determined that not only was it a new species, but a new genus as well. It was not considered a member of the bovid family, which included cattle, sheep, goats and antelopes.”

The sure-footed saola spends much of its time on high cliffs, where it feeds on grass. It has narrow, two-toed hooves with a concave area on the bottom that allows the animal to grip slippery surfaces, large facial glands, which secrete a scent to mark territory. Larger than a goat but smaller than a cow, it has a deep brown coat with black and white markings. Perhaps the most unusual thing about the animal is that seems to have more in common with species that roamed the earth between 5 and 10 million years ago than it does with modern ones.

Looking For the Saola

The Saola was discovered by a team of scientists led by biologist John MacKinnon in the Vu Quang Nature Reserve, a beautiful mountainous area of dense, unmapped tropical rain forest near the Laos border 170 miles southeast of Hanoi. The animal was described in 14th century Chinese journals but was thought to either have been mythical or extinct.

The first clues of the new animal were reports by village hunters of wild goats in the Vu Quang region and the discovery by Vietnamese zoologist Do Tuoc of skulls with long curved horns mounted on posts outside the home of a hunter. Japanese film crews roamed the region around Vu Quang offering anyone who produced the animal several thousand dollars.

A live saola specimen was captured in early 1996 in the Khammuan Province of Laos. Most of what scientist know about the animal has been determined from heads, horns and skins of the animal collected by local T'ai tribal hunters. Photographers hired by the World Wildlife Fund hoped to photograph it by setting up "photo traps” along forest tracks believed to be used by the animal.

Until 2013 none one had been able to photograph the saola. DNA evidence indicates the horns are similar in composition to ordinary cattle. Some believe that horns were artificially created and the species was a hoax.

Saving the Vu Quang Reserve

Vu Quang Reserve has been described as "a dense, high-quality forest" filled with wild birds, cattle-like gaurs, forest pigs, sambar deer, gibbon, tigers, leopards, elephants and deer. How could it yield so many new species. "Part of the explanation," wrote Eugene Linden in Time magazine, "lies in the region's steep, ragged terrain and exceptionally wet, sweltering weather conditions...Incessant rains during the rainy season and dripping fogs during the dry season nurture a slick algae that adds a treacherous coating to rocks and other surfaces...The presence of what may be ancient species is evidence that Vu Qunag and its environs have been ecologically stable for millions of years."

Despite widespread hunting, Vu Quang remains incredible biologically diverse. "If mankind wants to preserve biodiversity," one conservationist told Time, "it makes sense to start in places like Vu Qunag, which have proved able to sustain biodiversity for along time." Vu Quang is also the home of a strange new species of fish, the quang khem, which resembles a carp. The yellow terrapin, once found in Vu Quang, is now extremely rare.

The park was named after a 19th century Vietnamese who revolted against the French. Established in 1986, it was later enlarged from 40,000 acres to 150,000 acres. There has been some logging, but most of the park embraces virgin rain forest. Vu Quang is connected with the 900,000 acre Nakai Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area in Laos. There areplans to also include 750,000 acres of reserves in the surrounding mountain forest in Vietnam.

Hunting presents the greatest threat to wildlife in VU Quang. Many of the tribesmen that live in area where the saola is found use guns and snares for hunting. A WWF official told Time, "Hunting only supplements the diets of local villagers, and it imposes little hardship to ask them to put it aside if that is necessary to protect unique natural treasures."

Saola Spotted for the First Time in 15 Years

In November 2013, Reuters reported: “The critically endangered saola has been photographed in Vietnam, the first sighting in 15 years, conservationists said. Known for its two parallel horns that can grow to 50 inches (1.27 meters) in length, the saola is so rare that simply seeing a picture of one gives hope to those who want to preserve the species, said Van Ngoc Thinh ofWorld Wildlife Fund. "When our team first looked at the photos, we couldn't believe our eyes," Van Ngoc, WWF-Vietnam's country director, said in a statement. "This is a breath-taking discovery and renews hope for the recovery of the species." [Source: Reuters, November 13, 2013 +]

“The automatic camera trap that snapped the saola was set by the wildlife group and the Vietnamese government's Forest Protection Department in the central Annamite mountains. The last confirmed record of a saola in the wild was in 1999, from camera trap photos taken in the Laotian province of Bolikhamxay. Villagers in Bolikhamxay captured a saola in 2010 but it subsequently died, the WWF said. In Vietnam, the last confirmed sighting was in 1998, said Dang Dinh Nguyen, deputy head of Quang Nam Forest Protection Department. +

“The greatest threat to saola are wire snares set by hunters to catch deer and civets — a small nocturnal mammal — native to the same forests and destined for the illegal wildlife trade, Van Ngoc said. To combat this trend, conservation groups recruited forest guards from local communities to remove the snares; since 2011, more than 30,000 snares have been removed from the area of critical saola habitat along theVietnam-Laos border. The guards have also destroyed more than 600 illegal hunters' camps, the statement said. +

“Discovered by Vietnam's agriculture ministry and World Wildlife Fund in 1992, the saola was the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years. Twenty years on, the animal's elusive nature has prevented a precise population estimate, but at best, no more than a few hundred and possibly far fewer, survive in the forests along the Laos-Vietnam border. +

Giant Barking Deer and Other New Species Found in Vietnam

In 1994, the World Wildlife Fund confirmed the discovery of a new species of barking deer, or muntjac. About 50 percent larger than its cousins, the giant 100-pound muntjac was discovered by Western scientists in Nghe Tihn Province in Vu Qunag nature preserve, the same place where saola was discovered. The new species is distinguished from other muntjacs by its long, curving canine teeth, and large head and antlers. A live male muntjac deer was found in captivity in Laos. Blood samples were taken from it.

Unbelievably a third species of large mammal was discovered in Vu Quang—the quang khem, known to locals as the slow running deer and some scientist as Chihn's deer. While looking through bones samples in the Hanoi Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, MacKinnon found a strange set of antlers in a box that may belong to yet another species.

In March 2003, Alex Kirby of BBC News wrote: “Earlier fieldwork by BirdLife to identify Vietnam's key conservation sites led to the discovery of three species of bird new to science — the black-crowned barwing, and the golden-winged and chestnut-eared laughing thrushes. The country is also home to an extremely small population of highly endangered rhinos. New mammal species found in recent years in south-east Asia include the world's smallest deer, in Burma, and a striped rabbit in the mountains straddling the border between Laos and Vietnam. In the last few years a forest pig have also been found in the region. [Source: Alex Kirby, BBC News, March 13, 2003]

The Tuong Song Range. See Places.

Eleven New Animal, Plant Species Found in Vietnam

In September 2007, AFP reported: “Eleven new animal and plant species have been discovered in a remote area of central Vietnam, conservation group WWF announced. Scientists have found a snake, five orchids, two butterflies and three other plants new to science and exclusive to tropical forests in the Annamites Mountain Range, known as the Green Corridor, in Thua Thien Hue Province, WWF said in a press release. [Source: Agence France Presse, September 26, 2007 ]

“The new snake, the white-lipped keelback, tends to live by streams where it feeds on frogs and other small animals, the WWF said, adding it can reach 80 centimeters (31 inches) in length and has a distinctive yellow-white stripe along its head and red dots covering its body. "Discoveries of so many new species are rare and occur only in very special places like the Green Corridor," said Chris Dickinson, WWF's chief conservation scientist there. "Several large mammal species were discovered in the 1990s in the same forests so these latest discoveries may be just the tip of the iceberg."

“Of the five new orchid species, three are completely leafless — a very rare characteristic for an orchid. Like many fungal species, they contain no chlorophyll and live on decaying matter. WWF is also examining 10 other plant species, including four orchids, which also appear to be new species. "The area is extremely important for conservation and the province wants to protect the forests and their environmental services, as well as contribute to sustainable development," said Hoang Ngoc Khanh, director of the Provincial Forest Protection Department.

“The Green Corridor is home to one of the world's most endangered primates — the white-cheeked crested gibbon — and the best location in Vietnam to conserve the saola — a unique type of wild cattle discovered by scientists in 1992. The WWF said the Green Corridor's significant population of threatened species is at risk from illegal logging, hunting, unsustainable extraction of natural resources and conflicting development interests, despite commitment for preservation by local authorities. As well as supporting threatened species the Green Corridor also helps preserve water supplies for thousands of people who depend on the region's rivers and contains vital non-timber forest resources for local ethnic groups who earn a significant proportion of their income from the products.”

The golden Vietnamese cypress is a new species of plant discovered in 2001 in the forests of northern Vietnam. Mature trees have both needles and scales, an unusual feature for trees. The the Vietnamese have built a temple to honor the Azolla fern.

New Giant Flying Frog Discovered near Ho Chi Minh City

In January 2013, Jeremy Hance of wrote: “Jodi Rowley is no stranger to discovering new amphibians—she's helped describe over 10 in her short career thus far—but she was shocked to discover a new species of flying frog less than 100 kilometers from a major, bustling Southeast Asian metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately, the new frog, dubbed Helen's tree frog (Rhacophorus helenae), may be on the verge of extinction, according to the description published in the Journal of Herpetology. "To discover a previously unknown species of frog, I typically have to climb rugged mountains, scale waterfalls and push my way through dense and prickly rainforest vegetation," Rowley with the Australian Museum explains. "I certainly didn’t expect to find a new species of frog sitting on a fallen tree in lowland forest criss-crossed by a network of paths made by people and water buffalo, and completely surrounded by a sea of rice-paddies." [Source: Jeremy Hance,, January 9, 2013 ////]

“Measuring 10 centimeters long, the new species is described as a giant flying frog. Flying frogs don't actually fly, but instead use webs between their hands and feet to glide from one tree to another. Researchers believe Helen's tree frog went unnoticed for so long, because it stuck to the high canopy. The frog persists in just two lowland forest patches in southern Vietnam, not far from Ho Chi Minh City: Nui Ong Nature Reserve and Tan Phu Forest. The forests are 30 kilometers apart and surrounded by agriculture, making it impossible for the two population to meet. ////

"It is likely that [Helen's tree frog] was once widespread over southern Vietnam but now persists in small fragments of remaining lowland forest. The continued survival of [Helen's tree frog] is threatened by further habitat loss and degradation due to encroachment (e.g., livestock grazing and collection of forest products) and habitat isolation," the researchers write in the paper. ////

“Rowley says that more information is needed before scientists decide how best to proceed in conservation efforts. "The first step is finding more about the species—is it really just distributed in a couple of lowland forest fragments or it is more widely distributed? What is the population size of the species? Both these things are going to be incredibly hard to figure out, due to the arboreal nature of the frog. Based on what we know at the moment, I'd say the frog is likely to be highly threatened—primarily by habitat loss and modification." Rowley named the new species after her mother, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "To be told I was to have a frog named after me was wonderful, I don't know anyone who has had anything named after them," Rowley's mother, Helen, said.” ////

New Bullfrog and Crocodile Newt Found in Vietnam

In September 2013, VietNamNet Bridge reported: “Scientists recently announced the discovery of a new species of bullfrogs in Indochina. In Vietnam, this species is distributed in Gia Lai and Dong Nai provinces. The new species is named Kaloula indochinensis bullfrog based on their distribution in the three countries of Indochina, including Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This is the third species of bullfrogs recorded in Vietnam. Kaloula indochinensis can be distinguished from its congeners by the following combination of characters: maximum snout–vent length 53.7 mm; finger tips expanded into wide discs; the majority of specimens with two subarticular tubercles on the fourth toe; inner and outer metatarsal tubercle slightly raised, inner metatarsal tubercle shorter than first toe; absence of dorsolateral stripe; and large, bright, orange-yellow axillary and inguinal spots. The finding was published on the journal on reptiles and amphibians Herpetologica this month. [Source: VietNamNet Bridge, September 29, 2013]

In March 2013, James A. Foley wrote in Nature World News: “A devilish looking new species of crocodile newt has been identified in northern Vietnam by an international team of researchers. The new species, Tylototriton ziegleri, was identified by researchers in the mountainous provinces of Ha Giang and Cao Bang. Also called Ziegler's crocodile newt, new species is named after Thomas Ziegler, a reptiles and amphibian specialist in Cologne, Germany, who has "made significant contributions in the biodiversity study and conservation in Vietnam," the website VietNamNet Bridge reported. [Source: James A. Foley, Nature World News, March 20, 2013 ||]

“Zigler's crocodile newt has apparently been seen before by Japanese researchers in Tokyo, but at the time they did not recognize it as a new species. "I was asked by a curator to identify [the new species] and temporarily identified it as Tylototriton vietnamensis (the Vietnamese crocodile newt). However, the morphology was different from the original description of the Vietnamese crocodile newt," Kanto Nishikawa with Kyoto University said to the website Mongabay. "Because I have never seen the Vietnamese crocodile newt I could not confirm the specimens in Tokyo are undescribed species. In 2012, I had a chance to visit Vietnam and discussed [the specimen] with co-author, Tao Thien Nguyen, and made a conclusion on its taxonomic status, as new species." ||

“The pair's findings are published in the more recent issue of Current Herpetology. Newts are often captured and sold as pets, quite often illegally. However, no data on how often this new species of newt is bought and sold on the pet market was available. There are now 10 known species of crocodile newts, at least three of them are classified as nearly extinct, Mongabay reported. Zigler's crocodile newt differs morphologically from all other known newt species. The newt has distinctly rough, black skin with orange accents. It is quite small, males and females are less than three inches long and they are characterized by knob-like rib nodules, a tubular vertical ridge, large eyes and a narrow tail. ||

New Self-Cloning Lizard Found in Vietnam Restaurant

In November 2010, Brian Handwerk wrote in National Geographic News, “You could call it the surprise du jour: A popular food on Vietnamese menus has turned out to be a lizard previously unknown to science, scientists say. What's more, the newfound Leiolepis ngovantrii is no run-of-the-mill reptile—the all-female species reproduces via cloning, without the need for male lizards. Single-gender lizards aren't that much of an oddity: About one percent of lizards can reproduce by parthenogenesis, meaning the females spontaneously ovulate and clone themselves to produce offspring with the same genetic blueprint. [Source: Brian Handwerk, National Geographic News, November 8, 2010 ==]

"The Vietnamese have been eating these for time on end," said herpetologist L. Lee Grismer of La Sierra University in Riverside, California, who helped identify the animal. "In this part of the Mekong Delta [in southeastern Vietnam], restaurants have been serving this undescribed species, and we just stumbled across it." Grismer's Vietnamese colleague Ngo Van Tri of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology found live lizards for sale in a restaurant in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. ==

“Noting that the reptiles all looked strangely similar, Ngo sent pictures to Grismer and his son Jesse Grismer, a herpetology doctoral student at the University of Kansas. The father-son team suspected that they may be looking at an all-female species. That's because the team knew that the lizard likely belonged to the Leiolepis genus, in which males and females in lizards have distinct color differences—and no males were apparent in the photos. So the pair hopped on a plane to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), telephoned the restaurant to "reserve" the lizards, and began an eight-hour motorcycle odyssey—which ended in disappointment. "When we finally got there, this crazy guy had gotten drunk and served them all to his customers," recalled Lee Grismer. Fortunately other area restaurants had the lizards on offer, and local schoolchildren helped gather more from the wild. Eventually the Grismers examined almost 70 of the lizards—and all turned out to be females. ==

“The newfound reptile also had rows of enlarged scales on its arms as well as lamellae—bone layers—under its toes that set it apart from other species, according to the study, published April 22 in the journal Zootaxa. The species is probably a hybrid from maternal and paternal lines of two related lizard species, a phenomenon that can occur in transition zones between two habitats. For instance, the new lizard's home, the Binh Chau-Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve, sits between scrub woodland and coastal sand dunes. "So species that do really well in one habitat or the other will occasionally get together and reproduce to form a hybrid," Grismer said. Genetic tests of the new lizard's mitochondrial DNA identified its maternal species as L. guttata. Because this type of DNA is passed down only through females, the paternal species isn't yet known. ==

“The newly discovered hybrid species may already be at a disadvantage, Grismer added—even though it doesn't seem to be rare in the wild. For instance, some scientists suggest that hybrid species are more prone to extinction because they don't produce much genetic diversity from generation to generation, according to herpetologist Charles Cole, curator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Genetic diversity keeps a species viable and healthy in the long term. "At least in terms of lizards, most that are unisexual species—when compared to the lineages of other lizards—have not been around very long," said Cole, who was not involved with the Grismers' research. ==

“Because the lizards don't combine genes during mating, genetic changes arise by random mutations—which are at least as likely to be detrimental as beneficial. However, Cole cautioned, there are also theories that hybrids can be healthier in the short term. For instance, a hybrid's cells may be more genetically diverse than those of nonhybrids, because hybrids carry genes from each of their parent species. "This might mean that the animals are tougher and more adaptable," Cole said. ==

New Lizard Species Found in Central Vietnam in 2013

In November 2013, Thanh Nien reported: “Scientists from Germany, the US, and Vietnam discovered a new species of skink in the Kon Tum Plateau and reported it in Zootaxa, a zoological taxonomy journal. According to Wildlife at Risk (WAR), Nguyen Quang Truong, a biologist at the Institute of Ecological and Biological Resources, and four WAR experts discovered the forest skink of the genus Sphenomorphus during a biodiversity survey in a forest in Ba To District, Quang Ngai Province, in May and June 2012. The site is in a transitional area between the Kon Tum Plateau in the Central Highlands Province of the same name and the lowlands of Quang Ngai Province. [Source: Thanh Nien, November 10, 2013 ^^^]

“The scientists named it shea forest skink after Australian scientist Glenn Shea, who has made great contributions to the study of skinks in the Asia-Pacific, WAR said. The animal, around 94 mm long including a 59-mm tail, lacks external ears. It has scaly lower eyelids and 20 rows of midbody scales, Truong said in an article published on the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology's website. ^^^

“The head, back, and top of its tail are bronze brown and glittering with small black spots. On both sides is a single thin long black stripe running from behind the eyes to the top of the tail. It also has black spots on its ribs and a cream-colored belly. It lives beneath the leaf litter on the ground of the evergreen forest in Kon Tum Plateau at an altitude of 1,000 m above sea level, he said. The discovery brings the total number of Sphenomorphus species in Vietnam to 12, WAR said.” ^^^

'Penis-headed' Fish Discovered in Vietnam

A bizarre penis-headed fish has been discovered in Vietnam, according to a new paper published in the journal Zootaxa. The species, dubbed Phallostethus cuulong, is the 22nd known member of the Phallostethidae family, a group of tiny, otherwise non-descript fish characterized by the presence of copulatory organs just under their throat. The authors explain: Male phallostethids have a unique complex copulatory organ, termed the priapium, under the throat (thus the fishes of this family are commonly called "priapiumfish"). The priapium is a bilaterally asymmetric organ for holding or clasping onto females and fertilizing their eggs internally; following internal fertilization, phallostethid females do not give birth to live young, but instead lay fertilized eggs. [Source: Koichi Shibukawa, Dinh Dac Tran, and Loi Xuan Tran. Phallostethus cuulong, a new species of priapiumfish (Actinopterygii: Atheriniformes: Phallostethidae) from the Vietnamese Mekong. Zootaxa 3363 published: 3 Jul. 2012, August 27, 2012 /~/]

“Phallostethus cuulong was collected during an expedition to the Mekong delta in Vietnam. It was recognized as an undescribed species after it was compared with other known members of the Phallostethidae family. Scientists don't yet understand the evolutionary origin of the unusual placement of the fish's reproductive organ. However Phallostethidae fish are "part of a larger group that includes many species that fertilize their eggs internally," according to National Geographic News, which goes on to note that "the vast majority of fish species fertilize their eggs outside the body." /~/

“Lynne Parenti, curator of fishes at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., explained the fish's mating behavior to National Geographic News: "As with all Phallostethus—'penis chest' in Greek—species, the male uses its bony "priapium" to clasp a female while he inserts sperm into her urogenital opening, also located on the head." Phallostethidae fish mate head-to-head, which is apparently "a very efficient way to do it," according to the researcher. The fish discovery comes less than a month after a biologist in the Amazon revealed a little know species of caecilian — a legless amphibian — that was shockingly phallic in shape.” /~/

Gray-Shanked Douc Langur

The gray-shanked douc langur was first described by biologists in 1997. It has hardly ever been seen in the wild. The individual described by scientists was found in a cage at a market. It shares the same habitat in the Truang Son region with black shanked douc langurs. Scientists are debating whether it qualifies as a unique species or a subspecies.

In 2007, The Hindustan Times reported: “Scientists have found the world's largest-known population of an endangered monkey species in central Vietnam, increasing its chances of survival, conservationists said. Surveys since 2005 by the WWF global environmental conservation organization and Conservation International recorded at least 116 of the tree-dwelling grey-shanked doucs, one of the world's 25 most endangered primates. "It's very rare to discover a population of this size with such high numbers in a small area, especially for a species on the brink of extinction," Barney Long, a conservation coordinator with WWF Vietnam, said in a statement. "This indicates that the population has not been impacted by hunting like all other known populations of the species." [Source: The Hindustan Times, July 3, 2007 ||~||]

“The species has only been recorded in the five central Vietnam provinces of Quang Nam, Kon Tum, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh and Gia Lai. Fewer than 1,000 are believed to exist, and until the discovery announced, only one other population with more than 100 animals was known, the statement said. Conservation International said 65 percent of Vietnam's primates are endangered. ||~||

Endangered Turtle Found in Vietnam

In December 2006, Associated Press reported: “Researchers in Vietnam announced Friday they have caught one of the world's most endangered turtles in the wild, a development which could bolster efforts to protect the species from hunters and collectors. The Vietnamese Pond turtle — which is found only in lowland areas of Vietnam — was caught in late November in Quang Nam province, according to the Asian Turtle Program. It was the first time researchers have caught one in the wild in 65 years, it said, though the turtles are occasionally found in Asian markets and pet shops. "There was definitely a buzz there. It was very exciting," said Tim McCormack of the Asian Turtle Program in Hanoi, who along with Nguyen Xuan Thuan trapped the turtle. "We didn't expect to find it as easily as we did. After three days of setting traps, we found it. That was pretty impressive. I expected it would take months." The World Conservation Union has classified the turtle known as Mauremys annamensis as "critically endangered" and conservationists say it on a list of the world's top 25 endangered turtle species. [Source: Associated Press, December 8, 2006 |*|]

“The turtle faces a number of threats to their survival, McCormack said, including farmers who destroy their habitat and traders who sell them to collectors and traditional medicine markets. Blood from the Vietnamese turtle is used as a traditional treatment for heart disease. But McCormack said the find is the latest sign that the turtle's future may be improving. Vietnam passed a law this year making it illegal for anyone to collect or sell the turtles — though enforcement remains weak. The Asian Turtle Program also is planning to launch a program in Quang Nam province that would include education and an awareness campaign aimed at protecting turtles, and eventually establishing a program to release turtles raised at the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Center into the wild. |*|

"We will have someone working in the area to dissuade local residents from collecting any more of these turtles and trying to improve conservation of the species in the surrounding villages," McCormack said. "You really need local involvement in any conservation effort for it to work." |*|

Cloning Program to Save Saola and Maintain Biodiversity in Vietnam

In June 2005, Agence France Presse reported: “French researchers have begun an inventory of animal species in Vietnam and a programme to clone those which are endangered to ensure their survival, a French public research institute said. [Source: Agence France Presse, June 6, 2005 ]

“One of these endangered species is the forest-dwelling ox or saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), Vietnam's emblematic mammal which weighs about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and whose discovery was only announced in 1995 in the journal Nature. "It is urgent to save it (the saola), and reproductive cloning is the solution which was decided on," said the French Center for International Cooperation and Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD) which participated in three-day European research exhibition in Paris at the weekend.

"At the moment, six-day-old embryos have been developed thanks to a cloning technique involving the transfer of cell nuclei. A number of them have been frozen, ready for implantations into carrier mothers". The programme is part of the French Biodiva project signed in 2003 for three years and funded by the foreign ministry which aims to take an inventory of and conserve the many different animals species which inhabit the isolated mountainous regions of Vietnam such as the forest-dwelling bison or gaura, the Javan rhinoceros and the giant muntjac, a type of deer.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

Last updated May 2014

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