3-7 June, 2013, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Thirty-four participants from 24 institutions joined the 3rd meeting of the Saola Working Group (SWG) of the IUCN Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group, held 3-7 June 2013 in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

The SWG meeting was preceded, ten days earlier, by preparatory, one-day, national Saola meetings, in each of Lao PDR and Vietnam.


The SWG meeting agenda focused on four topics:

  1. Information sharing on current Saola status and conservation efforts
  2. Improving protection at key Saola sites
  3. Detection of Saola, and how to do it
  4. Captive management of Saola.


The principal outcomes of the meeting were:

  1. An SWG goal for Saola protection:
    The Saola Working Group’s protection goal is zero active snares (and other traps that pose risk to Saola), zero domestic hunting dogs and zero illegal firearms in priority Saola areas.

  2. A consensus decision to immediately begin the necessary preparations to establish a captive ‘insurance population’ of Saola.
    The decision was framed by drafting an SWG statement on Saola captive management, which reads in part:
    ...The IUCN SSC and its Saola Working Group (SWG) recommends moving forward immediately to establish a captive population of Saola to maximize the likelihood of saving the species, under the following conditions:

    • The sole purpose of an ex situ population management program will be non-commercial captive breeding for eventual supplementation of wild populations, holding a stable insurance population ex situ, and filling critical knowledge gaps on the Saola to improve in situ conservation efforts;

    • World-best practice under the guidance of world-best expertise will be employed. This will require a level of conservation commitment, expertise and resources that will be exceptional for the region;

    • International institutions with best practice in the captive management of endangered ungulates must work in close partnership with range governments; 

    • The captive management program will be additive, and specifically will not subtract significant resources and attention from vital in situ conservation efforts.

  3. A 12-month worklist to move these and other meeting decisions forward.
    Click here for a report on the proceedings of the meeting