Newly found mammal threatened

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 August, 1996, 12:00am

A remarkable creature, half-ox, half-goat, that has survived Indochina's many wars may not outlive Laos' logging frenzy or the demands of collectors.

Scientists only set eyes on the sao la two years ago - proclaiming it the first new mammal discovery this century.

Only six sao la are known to have been captured, including the first two discovered in Vietnam. None has survived for more than a few weeks.

Now the logging boom is creeping towards the rainy Annamite mountains between Vietnam and Laos where most sao la are believed to live.

Conservationists in Laos said the army-owned company, the Bolisat Pattana Khet Phudoi, was keen to find out how to keep the animals alive because it plans to open a zoo in the future.

The animal has unusual white markings on its face and long, swept back horns.

Although DNA tests have been carried out, scientists have still not decided whether the animal is more closely related to the cow or the goat.