Global Rescue Sponsors Conservation Efforts in Asia

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September 9, 2009

Categories: In Action,

The Annamite mountain range on the Laos-Vietnam border represents the sort of remote terrain that beckons to our adventurous members – unexplored wilderness in a remote corner of the world – and it also happens to be the sole refuge of an elusive animal that is a few breaths from extinction. Global Rescue, a committed sponsor of exploration and conservation efforts worldwide, is proud to support Global Wildlife Conservation’s efforts to identify the biodiversity of these wild regions, and the human threats to its survival, especially from poaching.
Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) members recently returned from a meeting in Laos organized by the world’s international experts on the Saola, part of a broader mission to map out the habitat of the antelope-like member of the bovid family and one of the rarest mammals on Earth. The numbers range from perhaps a dozen to no more than a few hundred. It was only discovered in 1992. No Western scientist has ever seen one in the wild, and the few instances where they were kept in captivity, the animal survived only a few weeks.

“The Saola is a unique animal, charismatic and mysterious, called the giant panda of the region by some,” explained GWC’s Wes Sechrest.

The major obstacle to the species’ recovery is poaching, Sechrest explained, whereby illegal hunters use snares or dogs to trap the animals both for meat and for trophies. Scientists and conservationists continue to find evidence of increased poaching activity in the field.

GWC’s goal is to provide local governments with the scientific information necessary to create sound policies to increase soala populations, and also to promote awareness of the problem in the United States, especially among the Vietnamese-American and Lao-Ameican communities.

Other recent conservation efforts by GWC have focused on the Cardamom Mountains region in southwest Cambodia, one of the last remaining large expanses of wilderness in that part of the world. Most of the region is largely unexplored and the distribution of species unknown, although the few surveys completed have discovered significant populations of threatened species such as Siamese Crocodiles and Asian Elephants.

Until recently, access to the Cambodian mountains was prevented by security concerns, and even today exploration of the remote areas presents health and safety risks from land mines, unexploded ordinance, malaria and dengue fever.

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