A Requiem for Martha: One Saola whose Death was not In Vain by Prof C. Michele Thompson
Date : 21 Jun 2018
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Meeting Room
AS8 Level 7, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC


Assoc Prof Greg Clancey, Asia Research Institute, and Tembusu College, National University of Singapore


The photo in the publicity for this talk is of a saola, Pseudoryx nghetinhensis. The name of that saola, while she lived in captivity, was Martha. Saola are arguably the most endangered species of large mammal on Earth. There are none in public zoos and none anywhere else in captivity, as far as is known as of June 4, 2018. However, a few saola have lived in captivity for brief periods of time. Martha was one of these and she had a tremendous effect on the conservation community in Mainland Southeast Asia through her effect on one scientist, William G. (Bill) Robichaud. Because of their relationship Martha is the most famous saola who has ever lived, up to now. She is the most famous saola because she was the most carefully observed, studied, recorded and published about saola. Plus, she had a real name-which those other captive saola did not. This talk will present information on what a saola is, it will cover the history of the discovery of saola, it will discuss the three saola which survived longest in captivity-including detailed information on Martha’s time in captivity. The presentation will then move to information on the impact of Martha on international conservation efforts in the Annamite Cordillera between Laos and Vietnam and to new developments including a discussion of a planned captive breeding program and its potential impact. The indigenous flora and fauna of both Laos and Vietnam, particularly in the mountains between them, has been devastated in recent decades by the China driven trade in faux medicinal uses of rare plants and animals. Anything that raises awareness of the value of the native plants and animals of the region is to the benefit of both countries and to the environment of Southeast Asia as a whole.


C. Michele Thompson holds an MA in East Asian History and a PhD in Southeast Asian History. She specializes in history of medicine and science in Southeast Asia, and is a Professor of Southeast Asian History at Southern Connecticut State University. She is the author of numerous articles on the history of medicine, science, and the environment in Southeast Asia including, most recently, "Selections from Miraculous Drugs of the South by the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Physician Tuệ Tĩnh (c1330-c 1389)" in C. Pierce Salguero ed. Buddhism and Medicine, a Sourcebook, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2017. She is the co-editor of Translating the Body: Medical Education in Southeast Asia and Southern Medicine for Southern People: Vietnamese Medicine in the Making and the author of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine: A Social History. Her forthcoming publications include "Swarms, Herds, and Peoples: Examinations of Interspecies Dynamics in China and Vietnam" a special issue of EASTM: East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine. Her works in progress include a monograph on the interplay between Buddhism, the environment, medicine and politics in Tran Dynasty Vietnam and a monograph on the medical, political, and social history of vaccination for smallpox in Southeast Asia c1804-1945.


Admission is free. We would greatly appreciate if you click on the "Register" button above to RSVP.

Contact Person(s)
Minghua TAY