WASHINGTON (AP) - A "Lost World" of undiscovered species of birds,
fish and an unknown dagger-horned mammal has survived a half-century of war and expanding
civilization in Vietnam, wildlife experts say.
If it proves to be a new species, the U.S. and British scientists said the creature-locally
referred to as a "forest goat"-would be one of only a handful of large
mammals newly recorded in the last hundred years.
A recent survey of the relatively untouched Vu Quang Nature Reserve by a team from
the Vietnamese government and the World Wildlife Fund documented preliminary evidence
of two previously unknown bird species, at least one new fish, an unknown tortoise
with a striking yellow shell, and the goat-like mammal.
"The horns are quite unlike those of other goats previously recorded,"
said British scientist John MacKinnon, who led the World Wildlife Fund expedition
in May. He said it could be another kind of bovid, or hooved animal.
"It's in a lost world that modern science had never before looked at,"
With most of Indochina heavily populated and so ravaged by wartime herbicides and
bombing, stepping into Vu Quang is "like opening a door into a lost and neglected
place," MacKinnon said. "Biologically it's not like the rest of Indochina."
Officials of the World Wildlife Fund said the relatively untouched Vu Quang area
spreads over 182 square kilometers along a steep stretch of land near the Lao border,
a 10-hour overland trip from Hanoi. The wildlife group is urging Laos to establish
a reserve in the adjacent area, Hulse said.
The Vu Quang area originally was set aside and protected as a cultural reserve because
it provided refuge for a local hero who had rebelled against the French, MacKinnon
"This is the first time that anyone has looked at it biologically," he
said. The Wildlife Fund said Vietnam has a large system of protected areas, including
national parks and forest reserves. The local government overseeing Vu Quang and
the national Ministry of Forestry have agreed to ban logging in the area and expand
the nature reserve, he said.