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Science Briefing

Antelope found in '92 nearly gone

September 05, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

The Saola antelope, discovered in 1992 by scientists in remote valleys on the borders of Laos and Vietnam, is on the brink of extinction from hunting with dogs and snaring, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said on Thursday.

Resembling the desert antelopes of Asia but more closely related to wild cattle, the Saola has rarely been seen or photographed, the Swiss-based organization said.

"We are at a point in history where we have a small but rapidly closing window of opportunity to conserve this extraordinary animal," said IUCN expert William Robichaud.

"Its wild population may number only in the dozens, and it is certainly not more than a few hundred," said his colleague Barney Long in a statement issued from IUCN headquarters at Gland, near Geneva.

The only Saola captured alive and held for any length of time -- in a Laotian menagerie in 1996 -- survived only a few weeks, according to the IUCN.

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