The “Lost World” of Vietnam had a surprise for zoology in 1992; it would reveal an amazing new animal, known to the locals as the saola. In initial press releases this forest animal would get the name Vu Quang ox, but later it would be officially called by its native name, saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis). Though ie was described in early media accounts as a goatlike species, examination of three available skins revealed it to be a living bovid. It is also the largest land mammal to be discovered since the kouprey in 1937. Since it was a part of the area’s hunting lore, this discovery has significant implications for cryptozoology, for it was an animal familiar to natives but still a “hidden animal,” unknown to science.
The June 3, 1993, issue of Nature makes it dear just how unique this animal is: “Pseudoryx differs significantly from all described genera in appearance, morphology, cranial and dental features and DNA. The long, smooth, almost straight, slender horns, elongated premolars, large face gland and distinctive colour pattern are diagnostic.” The pattern mentioned is a series of black and white markings on the face, neck, feet, and rump.
It is noteworthy that the saola was found near the Mekong River in Cambodia-Laos, in the same general region of the kouprey. The saola, according to locals, inhabits the pristine evergreen montane forests of northern Vietnam, bordering Laos. Until the spring of 1994, Vietnamese and American biologists had not encountered a living specimen, though they had noted signs of twenty individual animals.
Finally, a female saola calf was captured just outside the Vu Quang Preserve and moved to an eight-acre, forested botanical garden preserve. The new specimen has a thin, dark brown stripe running down its back, distinctive white markings on its face, large eyes, and a short, fluffy tail.
In March 1994, Vietnam’s Vu Quang Preserve yielded up evidence of yet another genus: the giant muntjac, or barking deer (Megamuntiacus vuquangemis). The largest muntjac ever found, this one has a red grizzled coat and weighs ninety to one hundred pounds. Not long afterward, the World Wildlife Fund reported the capture of a live specimen in Laos.
Another new species of muntjac deer, Muntiacus trungsonenis, has been identified in the heavily war-damaged but dense scrub forest of the region. In 1994, word reached the West that a new bovid had been described from Vietnam and Cambodia. The animal, which resembles a small kouprey, was named Pseudoflovibos spiralis.
The discovery of the saola appears to herald the discovery of other “hidden” animals in Vietnam’s Vu Quang Nature Preserve, and cryptozoologists are paying attention.
The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark