Several photos of the Sao La, one of the rarest and most threatened mammals on the planet, were made public in Dong Hoi City, the central province of Quang Binh on August 13 by the Viet Nature Conservation Centre and the Quang Binh provincial Department of Forest Rangers, according to the Sai Gon Giai phong daily.

The photos, which featured two individual Sao La, were taken by camera trap set at the Dong Chau forest in Khe Nuoc Trong area, Le Thuy district, Quang Binh province in 2012 and 2013. Nine photos taken on July 14, 2012 captured the image of an adult Sao La, while a single photo on June 8, 2013 showed a young animal estimated at more than one year old.

In November last year, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) also announced photos of the animal which were taken on September 7 that year by a camera trap set by the WWF and central Quang Nam province’s Forest Protection Department in a hard-to-reach area on Truong Son range in the province.

The animal (known as Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), dubbed the Asian Unicorn because it is so rarely seen, looks like an antelope in appearance, and is recognised by two parallel horns with sharp ends which can reach 50 centimetres in length.

The species was discovered in 1992 by a joint team from Vietnam’s Ministry of Forestry (now the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) and the World Wide Fund for Nature during a trip surveying the forests of Vu Quang in Ha Tinh province, near Vietnam’s border with Laos.

Scientists estimate about 200 Sao La, maybe only a few tens, now survive in the remote, dense forests along the Vietnam-Laos border.-VNA