Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: Saola

Nominated by: Zoological Society of East Anglia


Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Why do you love it? Often referred to as the Asian Unicorn, the saola is elusive, distinctive and highly secretive.  A large mammal that managed to remain undiscovered by scientists until as recently as 1992 is definitely a reason to love it.  Years can pass without any sightings of this animal by local hunters and scientifically documented wild saola sightings can be counted on your fingers.  This species needs urgent love and attention to prevent its extinction, but with the fantastic coordination by the highly skilled experts working to save the saola and support from all of us, there is a realistic chance to save and protect this species.

What are the threats to the saola? Thanks to their elusive nature, they are not sought after by the prolific highly-resourced poachers for the traditional medicine market, unfortunately however they are often caught in their snares, are also hunted for food by local hunters and their horns have been found for sale in Hanoi.  The surviving population estimates are very low and their habitat fragmentation through economic development, increased wealth and therefore development in the region are the main threats here.

What are you doing to save it? Zoological Society of East Anglia has supported the Saola Working Group over the past three years donating nearly £11,500 through both financial donations and staff time. The catalyst for this was Gary Batters, ZSEA Director of Conservation’s role co-chairing the EAZA IUCN SSC Southeast Asia Campaign 2011-2013 learning further of the plight of the saola.  Terry Hornsey, Animal Manager at ZSEA Africa Alive! is leading a group of ungulate captive breeding experts to plan for intensive management of this species within its range.  The group of conservation experts working with saola are amongst the most experienced conservationists in the region and are concentrating their efforts on researching further about this elusive species, their ecology and habitat and expanding protection at key sites.

Find out more about the work of the Saola Working Group

Find out more about the Zoological Society of East Anglia’s Africa Alive project

Discover more bovid species on Arkive