“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.