Northern Annamites, Lao PDR

Northern Annamites, Lao PDR Photo
©Eleanor Briggs

Straddling the border between Lao PDR and Vietnam, this biodiversity conservation landscape covers one of the most biologically important regions of the Annamite mountain range and includes Nam Kading NPA. Because of its rugged nature, the habitat, which is primarily moist evergreen forest, is relatively intact and under-explored. Five new mammal species have been discovered in the area in recent years. The landscape harbors important populations of highly threatened wildlife, including the saola, Francois’s langur, crested argus, two species of endangered gibbons, and the Indochinese and Chinese three-striped box turtles. The landscape also supports a small, but ecologically important population of Asian elephants.

Fast Facts

  • WCS has been working with the Government of Lao PDR since 2005 to build the capacity of conservation professionals to manage the Nam Kading National Protected Area and other Provincial Protected Areas in Bolikhamxay Province.
  • The saola resembles a wild goat or an antelope, but DNA analyses show that it is more closely related to wild cattle and buffalo.
  • In addition to the evergreen forests, extraordinary limestone rock formations and sheer-faced cliffs are also an integral part of the landscape. New species of birds, mammals, and reptiles continue to be discovered, particularly along the upper reaches of the mountains.
  • The Kha-Nyou, or Laotian rock rat, first discovered in the Annamites landscape and formally described in 2005, belongs to an entirely new family of mammals—the first of its kind to be discovered since 1974. 


Challenges

Hunting remains a major threat in this landscape. The majority of the forests, even though they appear intact, have been stripped of most wildlife. Planned hydropower projects will undoubtedly have some impact on connectivity among the landscape’s protected areas and will affect the movements and ecology of several species of mammals. Loss of habitat will also affect birds and mammals that occur at low population densities.

WCS Responds

WCS is working with both the Government of Laos as well as rural communities to reduce poaching and habitat loss, and we are conducting scientific surveys of wildlife populations in the region to determine their abundance. WCS also collaborates with the Lao government to raise public awareness concerning the wildlife trade and to assess wildlife loss, habitat destruction, and human-animal conflicts. In 2009, a team of WCS scientists, Lao PDR Department of Forestry, and other groups working in the region discovered the limestone leaf warbler, a new species that breeds in Laos's limestone karst environments. In 2010 WCS signed another 5 year agreement to continue this important work.
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