First, Saola is a very rare and endangered animal. It cannot live in captivity. This animal was discovered in 1992 and we are still learning a lot about it. It is very hard to find books about the Saola. The only one I could find was a very thick book not geared toward children called The Last Unicorn. It was a very long read, but not something you could use as a lesson unless you are working with high schoolers.
I found photos on the WWF website: https://www.worldwildlife.org/media?species_id=saola
and shared them with the kids. It is not easy to find pictures of Saola. They are very rare and a special animal that needs to be left alone.
I then shared this video about the Saola to start my lesson off:
I liked this video because it was short and to the point which is what I need for the big age range I deal with.
Then I shared some fun facts I learned about Saola’s that I found on A-Z Animals: https://a-z-animals.com/animals/saola/
and Soft Schools: http://www.softschools.com/facts/animals/saola_facts/273/
1. The Saola is a species of Antelope natively found in the forests on the border of north-central Vietnamand Laos.
2. They are one of the most recently discovered large mammals in the world but are now also believed to be one of the rarest with estimated population numbers just in the tens of individuals
3. They are incredibly rare and elusive mammals, and still today, very little is actually known about the Saola. The Saola is also known as the Asian Unicorn, which is not thought to be particularly related to its long horns, but more the fact that it is just so rare.
4. smooth horns are found on both males and females of the speciesand can grow up to 50cm in length
5. They are thought to live for between 8 and 11 years in the wild.
6. Saola is herbivore (plant-eating animal). It eats fig leaves and other plant material (seeds, fruit and berries) that can be found near the riverbanks.
7. Males are territorial. They roam over larger areas compared to females. Saolas use sticky, smelly substance produced in the maxillary gland to mark borders of their territory.
8. All information about saola was collected by observing 13 captive animals. Unfortunately, soala cannot survive long period in captivity and all except two captured animals died within the short period of time
The next activity was making a Saola out of salt dough. The Saola is so rare that we needed to make it out of clay to be able to see it! It was cute watching the kids try and mold the face of a Saola.
At the end of our lesson, I shared this video while the kids made their Saola’s out of clay.
This is a really good video from the WWF and very informative. It is a little long, but that is why I played it when the kids were sitting playing with clay.