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Re: [Aroid-l] The Saola and the Araceae

  • Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] The Saola and the Araceae
  • From: "Peter Boyce" <botanist@malesiana.com>
  • Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2006 13:00:43 +0800

Hi Ted

Was interested to see your posting on the saola and aroids. In the late 1990's I was involved with a UNDP/Lao Forest Department project training parataxonomists in the northern part of the Lao PDR as part of a NTFP project funded by UNDP & Danida. While in Lao I met up with Bill Robichaud, then of WSC, who was studying saola and was one of the first westerners to successfully get photographs from camera traps. Bill asked me to identify plants that he had collected from saola grazing sites and these proved to Schismatoglottis calyptrata (Roxb.) Zoll. & Moritzi, a variable and widespread species and is common in everwet forest in IndoChina (its full range is from tropical northeastern Myanmar to New Guinea).

It now seems likely that the saola's primary range is the remote and very precipitous, not to say very wet mountains along the border between Bolikhamxay and Nghe An provinces in Lao & Vietnam respectively with increasing evidence that it most saola and saola habitat in Laos probably lie outside of Nakai-Nam Theun, in areas of Bolikhamxay Province (and to a lesser extent Savannakhet and Xekong Provinces) the area (Nakai-Nam Theun) traditionally considered its main range

Reverting to the aroid aspect, here in Sarawak leaves of Schismatoglottis motleyana (Schott) Engl. are occasionally sold as a vegetable. used to make ulam and are favoured for the astringent/sour taste they impart. In Sabah I have seen leaves of another Schismatoglottis (possibly S. venusta A.Hay) sold for similar purposes.

----- Original Message -----
From: ted.held@us.henkel.com
To: Discussion of aroids
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006 11:36 PM
Subject: [Aroid-l] The Saola and the Araceae

This is a distraction from our usual fare, but I saw an interesting article on the little-known saola, an exotic bovine. The current Science magazine (December 1 cover date) contains a picture and written reference of an unidentified Araceae, which the rare animal is believed to eat. The saola, also known as the Vu Quang ox, is the last new large animal to have been discovered. It was unknown to science before 1992. Although they say it is related to the cow, it looks more like an antelope. The few remaining individuals live in Vietnam and Laos. The article contains some interesting information on the animal and its bleak prospects, but nothing about the aroid save the following:

"The forest ecologist finds safe footing on the slick slope and grabs a handful of broad, dark-green Araceae leaves. 'Saola like to eat these," [Do] Tuoc says. 'At least, we have seen bite marks.'"

There is a photograph of Mr. Tuoc holding some nondescript taro-like plants in each hand (fibrous roots, perhaps 30 cm petiole height).

The saola diet is unknown, save for the hints that it might like tucking into a luscious aroid. Much of the remainder of the article is a discussion, pro and con, of the idea of attempting to clone the beast in an attempt to preserve it.

Anyone having a liking for extremely rare animals can e-mail me separately and I will send them a pirated scan of the article. I don't think anyone will mind this violation of copyright as long as we don't sell copies.



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