GOOGLE JOINS FORCES WITH WWF-VIET NAM IN SAOLA CONSERVATION CAMPAIGN

Posted on 09 July 2021
Saola
© David Hulse
On World Saola Day, Google joins forces with WWF-Viet Nam, to kick off the “Preserve the Saola’s footprints” campaign to save this endangered species by raising awareness and calling for action from the public.

Notably, Google is launching an Augmented Reality 3D of Saola on Google Search so that global users can have an up-close, detailed view of this spectacular species on their smart devices. It is the first time Google has digitalised one of the rarest wild animals of Viet Nam and Laos to AR 3D.

Living in the magnificent Annamite Mountains which span the border between Viet Nam and Laos, the elusive Saola is a symbol of the rich biodiversity of Laos, Viet Nam and the wider Mekong region. The discovery of the Saola in 1992 in Vu Quang Nature Reserve shook the world of conservation and biology, having been the first large mammal described by science in more than 50 years and being one of only five large mammals discovered in the previous century. Having survived countless disruptive events over the course of millennia, Saolas are now considered to be Critically Endangered, with the global population being estimated at less than 100 individuals. Habitat loss caused by human development, rampant snaring to supply the wildlife trade, and climate change are threatening this species with extinction, making saving Saola more urgent than ever.

By launching the campaign and the Saola AR 3D, Google and WWF-Viet Nam hope to bring the Saola closer to the public, helping people better understand the way that their behavior and activity impacts nature and rare wildlife, like the Saola. Each of us, both as individuals and as members of larger organizations, must take concrete action to bend the curve and prevent biodiversity loss to protect and revive the Saola and other threatened species.

The campaign “Preserve Saola’s footprints” include two phases, starting in July. The first phase “Follow the Saola’s footprints” will bring to the audience engaging information about Saola, resolving common misunderstandings about them. In the second phase, via online interactive activities, the public will learn about how their daily consumption behavior directly and indirectly impacts Saola, wild animals and Nature. Each of us can make minor adjustments in our daily lives to help save the Saola and protect the region’s biodiversity.

“Saola are a symbol of the amazing biodiversity that exist only in this one place on earth,” said Chris Hallam, Conservation Director of WWF-Laos. “People in Laos should be immensely proud of these unique species but many of them aren’t aware of how rare, special and endangered they are. We hope that this campaign will motivate people in Laos and Viet Nam to protect this habitat and the wildlife within them for future generations.”

Mrs. Tram Nguyen, Country Manager of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia at Google Asia Pacific, said, “By bringing the AR 3D model of Saola on Google search, we’d like to introduce to the world this rare endangered animal of Viet Nam, that you get to see up close, in the most vivid way possible. Google hopes to bring technology to support conservation efforts, digitizing information and images, so that they can be accessed by everyone; and that is exactly the objective of this campaign.”

Dr. Van Ngoc Thinh, CEO of WWF-Viet Nam, said, “The first time seeing the Saola AR, I am so excited by its vibrancy and authenticity. It is really hard to tell the difference from the real Saola I met. Hopefully, this model will help the public learn more about this species and admire its unique beauty. WWF-Viet Nam appreciates Google’s support for conservation and biodiversity. We are also delighted to join forces with Google in other activities to raise public awareness and call for public actions for Saola, bringing hope to a brighter future for our country’s biodiversity symbol.”
Saola
© David Hulse Enlarge
Saola, the elusive "Asian unicorn"
© David Hulse / WWF Enlarge
Pseudoryx nghetinhensis - Saola 4 to 5 month old female. An endemic mammal species that made this region well known on its diversity.
© David Harvey / WWF Enlarge