How do you save an animal that’s only been seen a few times? If you’re the Saola Working Group, you work on the ground and with local resource harvesting groups to protect an animal that, in profile, looks a little bit like a unicorn. The saola so shy that a camera trap image taken in November of 2013 was the first image captured of the animal in almost fourteen years. The trap was placed by William Robichaud, also one of the first people to observe a captured saola in 1996. He was awed by the serene nature of the animal, comparing it to the cows and sheep he grew up with.
William is now the founding coordinator of the Saola Working Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. The saola is a mysterious and highly endangered hoofed mammal which was discovered by scientists only in 1992. This beautiful animal lives only in dense forests of Laos and Vietnam, and is probably the largest animal in the world that has never been seen in the wild by a biologist, prompting its nickname “Asian unicorn.” William has been engaged in wildlife conservation projects in Southeast Asia since 1994, variously for the Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, Fauna & Flora International, IUCN and the Lao government. He is a native of Wisconsin, and holds degrees in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin and the University of British Columbia. William is currently a staff conservation biologist for Global Wildlife Conservation. William has now been a guest speaker at three Wildlife Conservation Expos, most recently in 2015.
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-Text by Elizabeth Rogers