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File photo of a saola, also known as the "Asian unicorn." Photo distributed by Digital First Media
Wait, so unicorns are real?
First Published Nov 19 2013 12:48 pm • Last Updated Nov 19 2013 12:48 pm

In parts of Asia, "unicorns" really do exist.

At least in theory.

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Environmentalists are jubilant after cameras in a remote Vietnam forest captured the first pictures of a live saola in 14 years, the World Wildlife Federation announced last week.

While they actually have two horns and not one, saolas are known as "Asian unicorns" because humans seldom see the horned creatures.

The sighting suggests that conservation efforts to protest the endangered animal are working.

"These are the most important wild animal photographs taken in Asia, and perhaps the world, in at least the past decade," William Robichaud, coordinator of the Saola Working Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission, said in a World Wildlife Fund press release.

The picture was taken in September in a reserve in Vietnam’s Central Annamite Mountains.

Not discovered until 1992, the saola is a slim bovine with two sharp, parallel horns that can grow up to 20 inches in length.

It was the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years and had not been seen in Vietnam since 1999, according to WWF.

Conservationists estimate there are only a couple hundred now in existence.


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"This is a breathtaking discovery and renews hope for the recovery of the species," Van Ngoc Thinh, WWF-Vietnam’s country director, told the Christian Science Monitor.



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