Antelope first seen 20 years ago is on brink of extinction - Nature - Environment - The Independent

Antelope first seen 20 years ago is on brink of extinction

 

A A A

Vietnam's rare mammals may be sliding towards extinction, but Britain's rarest butterfly is going from strength to strength, a series of contrasting announcements makes clear today.

Fears are growing about the future of one of the world's most mysterious animals, the saola, a cross between an ox and an antelope, which was the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years when it was discovered in Vietnam in 1992. There is also concern about three of the country's six species of gibbon, which are said to be "perilously close to extinction".

On the other hand, a new reserve is being set up for the large blue, the butterfly that went extinct in Britain in 1979, but which has been reintroduced through painstaking conservation work and is now flourishing at a handful of sites in southern England.

The contrasting East-West fortunes of these species say a lot about the different pressures on wildlife in Asia and Europe. Twenty years after its discovery, the saola remains elusive, with no precise estimate of its population, and according to WWF (formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature) there are fears that it could go the way of the Vietnamese rhino – discovered in 1988 and hunted to extinction by last year.

"While they inhabit a very restricted range, there is still no reported sighting of a saola in the wild by a scientist, and the handful of saola taken into captivity have not survived," said Nick Cox, of WWF. "If things are good, there may be a couple of hundred saola out there," said William Robichaud, co-ordinator of the saola working group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. "If things are bad, the population could now be down in the tens."

Although development is encroaching on the saola's forest habitat, the greatest threat to the animal comes from illegal hunting. Saola are caught in wire snares set by hunters to catch other animals, such as sambar deer, muntjacs and civets, which are largely destined for the lucrative wildlife trade, driven by traditional medicine demand in China and restaurant and food markets in Vietnam and Laos.

Meanwhile, the first comprehensive study of gibbons in Vietnam in more than a decade has found that three of the six species (the eastern and western black gibbons and the northern white-cheeked gibbon) are close to extinction, and the remaining three have suffered massive population reductions. The report, co-authored by Britain's Fauna and Flora International and Conservation International in the US, details the decline that Vietnam's gibbon species have suffered over the past 10 years. They have disappeared from much of their historical range in the country, and the remaining viable populations are restricted to protected areas, most of which lack the standard of protection needed to ensure their survival.

On the other hand, Britain's once extinct but now reintroduced large blue butterfly is faring so well that the Butterfly Conservation charity has acquired a new reserve to house it. It is at Rough Bank, overlooking the Slad Valley in the Cotswolds. Already home to four species of blue butterflies, the Rough Bank reserve is likely to become a key site for the largest one as it expands into the Cotswolds from its re-introduction base in Somerset's Polden Hills.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week