Fun Saola Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Diya Patel
Discover interesting saola facts here
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.3 Min

A saola, or an Asian unicorn, is one of the rarest, largest mammals to exist. The saola habitat is limited to the Annamite mountains, a range of mountains in Vietnam and Laos.

With distinctive white markings all over its face, a saola in the wild can live between eight to 11 years.

However, they do not do well in captivity or in protected areas. This large mammal has two parallel horns and its conservation status is Critically Endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Snares that are used by hunters to capture wild boar and other animals can also trap saolas, and eventually lead to their death and a decrease in their population.

The discovery of saolas was made by accident when a survey team from the Vietnamese Ministry of Forestry was sent to evaluate the biodiversity of a newly established part of the area and they came across a skull of this species. Its discovery was officially announced in 1992 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Continue reading this article for more interesting facts about saolas. If you want to learn more about different animals, you can read our articles on the white tiger and on sheep.
 

Saola Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a saola?

Saola is a bovine and is considered to be the largest, rarest mammal to exist on this planet.

What class of animal does a saola belong to?

A saola is a large mammal that belongs to the Mammalia class of animals.

How many saolas are there in the world?

Discovered in 1992, a saola is one of the rarest species in the world. The total population of this species is less than 750, especially in the wild. This species is on the brink of extinction and if proper preservation measures are not taken immediately, the remaining saola population might become extinct.

Where does a saola live?

This species of animal is one of the rarest large-sized mammals to exist and their habitat is limited to the Annamese Mountains in Vietnam and Laos. There have been sightings of this animal in certain regions of Vietnam, like the Quang Nam provinces.

What is a saola's habitat?

Saolas are forest-dwelling creatures that can be found in large evergreen and deciduous forests. They can be seen typically along river valleys. They change their habitat depending on the season, for example they can be found near lowlands during winter.

Who do saolas live with?

Although saolas are generally thought to be solitary animals, there have been instances where a small group of six or seven saolas have been spotted by the local people of nearby villages in Vietnam and Laos. They do not generally show any aggressive behavior towards human beings but are known to be extremely scared of dogs.

How long does a saola live?

The average lifespan of a saola typically ranges from eight to 11 years in the wild. While in captivity, they only live as long as five months.

How do they reproduce?

Late August to mid November is generally considered to be the breeding season of saolas. The gestation period for a female saola lasts 33 weeks.

Just like with other mammals, a female saola also gives birth young. Although the exact litter size of this animal is not yet reported, it is estimated that a saola gives birth to only one calf. Birthing occurs mainly during the months of mid-April to late June.

What is their conservation status?

A saola or the Asian unicorn is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Mainly due to habitat loss and being hunted for their skin and meat, a huge decline in their population has been observed.

They are not at all suitable to be kept in a captive environment and do not live for long in such places.

As a result, saola conservation cannot be kept in check by keeping them in zoos. All remaining saolas are found in the wild and a further decline in the saola population means there will be a complete extinction of this species.

Saola Fun Facts

What do saolas look like?

Mainly found across the regions of Vietnam and Laos, a saola (or Asian unicorn) is a critically endangered large-sized mammal with short and thin hair which is brown in color all over its body.

The regions of its stomach and the insides of its forelegs are covered with large wooly pale brown hair.

The thickness of its skin differs across the various regions of its body, for instance, the skin thickens to 0.20 in (5 mm) in the areas of its neck and upper shoulder, while on the rest of the body it is only 0.04–0.08 in (1-2 mm).

This unequal distribution of the thickness of its skin is to protect it from other predators.

The upper region of its body like the neck, face, and throat is covered with white patches.

It has two parallel pointed horns located on its head and a short tail covered with black, cream, and brown stripes, which gives it the look of a zebra crossing from a distance.

Wild cattle and buffaloes are one of few animals who are considered to be their living relatives.

(The conservation status of a saola is Critically Endangered.

*Please note this is an image of an antelope, a member of the bovine family just like a saola. If you have an image of a saola please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

How cute are they?

Saolas are extremely cute and beautiful. Their face is covered with distinctive white markings and they have two parallel long horns on their heads. One is sure to become mesmerized when encountered by such a species.

How do they communicate?

Discovered in 1992, this species communicates with each other through a variety of sounds and body movements. When they feel threatened, they point their horns at their opponent and start snorting loudly.

Rubbing their horns against vegetation or soil is also considered to be a form of signal that they generate, mainly during their mating season. They are active throughout the day except during hot midday afternoons when they tend to rest.

They may also destroy small saplings with their horns as a form of aggressive behavior when any other animal trespasses their territory.

Secretion on lands is also thought to be a type of marking behavior that is typically shown by the females of this species. A saola does not do well in captivity and does not survive for a long time in such an environment.

How big is a saola?

The average size of a saola is  4.9 ft (150 cm). Their horns can reach up to a length of 3 in (7.5 cm). They are considered to be a critically endangered large-sized species and are shorter compared to tigers.

How fast can a saola move?

A saola is herbivorous by nature, that is it does not feed on other animals or hunt them down. This species can run at a speed of 23 mph (37 kph). Saola predators generally include other carnivorous animals like tigers.

How much does a saola weigh?

Saolas are large-sized mammals and their weight ranges from  176-220 lb (80-100 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name for male and female saolas. They are generally called males and females.

What would you call a baby saola?

A baby saola is called a 'calf'.

What do they eat?

Found mainly in the Annamite Mountains, they are herbivorous by nature and a saola diet includes all kinds of plants and bushes. They have also been known to show a preference towards two particular species of flowering plant, namely Sterculiaceae and Schismatoglottis.

Are they dangerous?

No, saolas are not generally considered to be dangerous animals. They do not directly pose any threat to human beings and they are known to display calm behavior around humans. They mainly feed on plants and are not aggressive unless they feel threatened in any way. They are considered to be one of the most endangered species.

Would they make a good pet?

No, a saola does not make a good pet. They can't survive for long in captivity and can only live as long as five months.

Stress is considered to be one of the main factors behind their mysterious deaths when captured. Moreover, they are one of the rarest large-sized mammals to exist. Measures are being taken for the conservation of this species to prevent further decline in their population.

Did you know...

Although a saola and an antelope share many similar traits, they are different on the basis of physical characteristics and body structure.

Discovered in 1992 and found in the regions of Laos, a saola is known to play a significant role in the food system. They are mainly hunted down by other carnivorous species like tigers and lions, therefore if there is a further decline in their population, there might be a slight change in the diet of these carnivorous species.

Saola meat is also eaten by various communities in Vietnam and Laos.

Although the exact height of a baby saola is unknown, the growth in the size of their horn has been recorded which ranged from 7.4-3.7 in (9.5-18.8 cm).

There is limited information about this species of animal and all that is known has been collected from 13 saolas that were kept captive for these kinds of research purposes.

Saolas are known to be extremely afraid of dogs and have shown aggressive behavior like snorting and pointing their horns towards them when encountered by one.

One of the greatest priorities is to save the remaining saolas. To do so, measures are being taken like setting up protected areas where the surviving species can be kept and encouraged to breed, thus increasing their population.

Why is the saola endangered?

Saolas started becoming endangered in 1992, right after their discovery was announced by the World Wildlife Fund. Saolas are hunted down by poachers in large numbers, mainly for their skin and meat.

The importance of saolas in the scientific community has also led to the captivity of live species, and ultimately to their death. There have also been increased cases of habitat loss because of agriculture and logging. For all these reasons, saolas are now listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Species.

What is the saola related to?

A saola is a member of the sub-family of Bovinae and is related to wild cattle and buffaloes, goats, and antelopes.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including zorse, or plains zebra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our saola coloring pages.

annamite mountains in laos and vietnam

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Diya Patel

Bachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

Diya Patel picture

Diya PatelBachelor of Science specializing in in Computer Science

A member of Kidadl's fact-checking team, Diya is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science from Ahmedabad University with an interest in exploring other fields. As part of her degree, she has taken classes in communications and writing to expand her knowledge and skills.

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