From an endemic creature known as an Asian unicorn, the sao la (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) is grabbing more attention from the community. Aside from becoming the mascot in the 31st SEA Games, the image and name saola also become a business brand in many fields.
The patrol force at Saola Nature Reserve
Products named “Saola”
In Hue, the healthcare product chain called Saola of Lien Minh Xanh (Green Union) Co., Ltd. uses the natural materials grown in the upstream Perfume River.
Naming the product line Saola, the leader of Green Union said that he desired to use the image of the animal endemic to the Truong Son Mountain Range, contributing to the communication of protecting the aforementioned animal from the danger of extinction.
This is reflected in the cooperation with households to develop medicinal plants, thereby improving the livelihood of the residents in the forests where saola grows, protecting and restoring the habitat for this rare animal. Part of the profits from "Saola" products goes to the mountain village conservation funds of ethnic communities in the Truong Son Mountain Range.
Mentioning “Saola”, people promptly think of the keywords: “precious and rare”, “sensitive ungulates”, “environmental protection”… Upon choosing Saola as a symbol and brand, Saola Trading Joint Stock Company (Hai Phong) also establishes specific elements in business activities.
Saola Apartment and Saola Hotel limit the use of plastic bags, equip some reusable personal items for guests, and use organic garbage bags... The programs call for protecting resources, retaining Saola's footprints, and preserving biodiversity... The company views them as meaningful communication activities, contributing positively to building Saola's brand and image.
Mr. Nguyen Quyet Thang, Founder and CEO of Saola Trading Joint Stock Company said, “The saola is very sensitive to the surrounding environment, so we would like our guests to stay in a safe, peaceful, healthy environment”.
In Vietnam and Southeast Europe alike, Saola coffee shop - a shop providing snacks and drinks in Romania - is loved by many travelers on the Tripadvisor website. The image of saola is printed all over the shop's utensils.
Doru and Alexandru – two managers who agreed to use the name Saola to emphasize the rarity of their business – like the Asian unicorn – on Calea Plevnei 7 Piata Kogalniceanu Street. A great many diners love coffee at Saola coffee shop; someone left feedback saying that the coffee here is the best specialty they have ever enjoyed in Bucharest!
Closer, more familiar
The saola is the world’s most mysterious animal recorded by scientists. It appeared three times in nature in Vietnam. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Vietnam, the discovery of saola is seen as a typical event for Vietnam's biodiversity.
This animal increasingly becomes the pride of the country’s people. Thanks to saola, Vietnam becomes a prominent point on the world's biodiversity map, among the leading group of 200 global high biodiversity regions.
Over the last 20 years (after its appearance in Huong Thuy and A Luoi), saola has by no means been seen in the wild, except in the photos through camera traps, so its existence is increasingly mysterious. The scale of this population has not yet been determined. However, according to the experts and scientists from the SWG of the IUCN organization coordinated by WWF-Vietnam, there is an estimate of about 20 individuals, even fewer, scattered throughout the forests of the Central Truong Son Mountain Range.
Thua Thien Hue is where the appearance of saola was recorded quite a lot, including the encounters with local people, especially in A Roang and Huong Nguyen (A Luoi) … With the support of WWF, two Saola Nature Reserves were established in Quang Nam and Thua Thien Hue. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development approved the project to build a Center for Breeding and Re-release to conserve saola and other animals of high conservation value located in Bach Ma National Park.
Thua Thien Hue Saola Nature Reserve has an area of more than 15,000 hectares of natural forest. With persistent activities over the years, Mr. Nguyen Thanh, Director of Saola Nature Reserve Management Board, judged that the people's awareness of forest and wildlife protection has increased markedly. The local community and the public have given attention to protecting and providing information on the emergence of saola and other rare species.
Mr. Vien Xuan Lien, the officer of Saola Nature Reserve, who had encountered saola three times (before 2000), has 17 years of working. At his dwelling, there is also a Saola trail for visitors to explore. “I hope to see again the animal with star spots on its cheek one day because when going to the jungle to patrol, I still see its traces of eating. With the hunch of a person attached to the forests for years, I believe that day will come soon," said he.
According to Mr. Nguyen Quang Hoa Anh, Biodiversity Project Manager, WWF-Vietnam, from naming products, places, and business brands…, this mysterious animal gradually becomes closer and more familiar to human life. Especially with the positive effects widely spread after the 31st SEA Games, we have witnessed the commitment, consensus, and widespread attention by the ministries, and authorities at all levels as well as the local communities towards the “Asian unicorn”.
The search for information about saola on Google is on the rise. WWF-Vietnam said it will set up 4,500 camera traps to try to capture saola images in 21 special-use and protection forests in seven provinces in Vietnam. Many communication activities continue to be organized, especially in areas where the saola is likely to live to mobilize the involvement of the saola conservation community. “We encourage individuals and groups to share information about saola and hope to continue to receive commitments to support and act for saola from the community and businesses in the short run,” said Mr. Hoa Anh.
Story: Tue Ninh - Photo: Tue Ninh - Saola Nature Reserve