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2 Status of taxonomic knowledge of Lao wildlife National species diversity 1 Mammals 1 Birds

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  1. Introduction

2 Status of taxonomic knowledge of Lao wildlife

2.1. National species diversity

2.1.1. Mammals

2.1.2. Birds

2.1.3. Reptiles and amphibians

2.1.4. Fish

2.1.5. Gaps in taxonomic knowledge of wildlife
3 Knowledge and status of wildlife habitat in Lao

3.1. Description
4 Status of wildlife and conservation priorities

4.1 Status of wildlife in Lao.

    1. National species conservation priorities

5. Value of Wildlife

5.1 Goods: food and medicine.

5.2 Ecological services: pollinators, seed dispersal and pest control

5.3 Economic: tourism and trade

5.4 Cultural: (for example, elephants in the “Lane Xang”)
6 Threats

6.1 Over harvest of wildlife

6.1.1 Local hunting / fishing for consumption

6.1.2 Wildlife Trade

6.2 Fragmentation and loss of wildlife habitat

6.2.1 Clearance for agriculture

6.2.2 Forest fire

6.2.3 Logging (Illegal and legal)

6.2.4 Hydropower development

6.3 Other threats

6.3.1 Pollution and poison.

6.3.2 Animal /human conflict (depredation of livestock and crops)

6.3.3 Alien Invasive species

6.3.4 Gaps in knowledge of threats to wildlife
7.1 Legislation

    1. Protected area system

7.2 Management for sustainable use of wildlife

7.3 Captive breeding

7.4 Research

    1. Other practices

  1. Conclusions and recommendations for the long term and immediate


  1. Reference





  1. Introduction

Lao PDR still harbors a rich fauna, with many species’ populations and their habitats probably being less depleted within Lao PDR than within several other countries of the region. Currently, the richness of Lao PDR’s wildlife has less to do with conservation efforts than with the country’s low population density and consequently extensive forest cover. Although hunting pressure in the country is still widely, the relative abundance of habitat and, in some areas, its long distance from human settlements, have provided partial protection for the country’s wildlife. However, human population and development pressures are rising, especially since 1990. Therefore, wildlife population is dramatically declining throughout the country. The understanding of them is still unclear among Lao people, wildlife is wildly known as the wild animals, fishes and include any plants.

Indeed, Wildlife is the undomesticated animals and plants, which are living in nature. They are including many types and species of a very small size up to a very big size of vertebrates or invertebrates or any type of habitats, such as: mammals, birds, reptile, amphibian, fishes, insects and all type of plant’s communities.
2.Status of taxonomic knowledge of Lao wildlife

2.1.National species diversity


There are 247 species of mammal occurred in Lao PDR, which three large mammals recently discovered to science such as small dark muntjac (Muntiacus truongsonensis), giant muntjac (Megamuntiacus (Muntiacus) vuquangensis) and saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensi). They are also endemic to the Annamite range along the border between Lao PDR and Viet Nam; and another 60 species are threatened (WCMC).(table 1)

Elephant herd in Nakai NamTheun, during the behavioral studies. This species is one of the most threatened in Lao PDR. Nakai Plateau,November 2001. Mr. Khamkhoun Khounboline.


Approximately 700 species of bird are known or provisionally recorded from Lao PDR and another 100 or so are reasonably likely to occur (J.W. Duckworth, R.E. Salter and K. khounboline,1999), which 72 species are highly threatened(WCMC).

Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are sites of international importance for bird conservation, based upon standard, internationally recognized criteria. IBAs are not only important for birds, but typically support a wide range of other important animal and plant species. Furthermore, many IBAs are also significant for human welfare and economic well being through protecting catchments, providing flood control or as a source of natural resources for local communities.
The global IBA programme is coordinated by Bird Life International, and aims to identify and protect a network of critical sites for the world's birds. The IBA programme began in Europe in 1985, since when IBAs have been identified for all countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and several in Asia. In Lao P.D.R., the identification of IBAs is being conducted by the Forest Inventory and Planning Centre and the Division of Forest Resource Conservation of the Department of Forestry, with technical support from Bird Life International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
To date, 44 IBAs have been identified in Lao P.D.R. IBAs have been identified within all protected areas for which ornithological data are available, with one or two being identified in each, apart from Nakai-Nam Theun Protected Area, where three have been identified. Because IBAs are spatial delineated and are important for other taxonomic groups, not only birds, they can be used as a basis for protected areas zoning. Regarding species, 86% of the globally threatened and near-threatened bird species that have been recorded in Lao P.D.R. to date are included within at least one IBA, with most of the remainder being species for which there are no recent records, for example, Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis. Consequently, protection of the entire network of IBAs in Lao P.D.R. would go a long way towards ensuring the conservation of the full diversity of bird species in the country.
2.1.3.Reptiles and amphibians

Recent surveys by the specialist from outside the country have recorded at least 166 species of amphibians and reptiles for Lao PDR, which 10 species of reptiles are threatened and 1 specie of Amphibian is endemic to Lao PDR.

Knowledge of which species occur where is fundamental to conservation of biodiversity, yet the amphibian and reptile composition of Lao PDR has long remained unknown. Previous reports on the herpetofauna (Gressitt 1970, Salter 1993b) are based largely on secondary, regional accounts or are exptrapolations from documented occurrence in adjacent countries. Even the single attempt to catalogue any component of the herpetofauna, Deuve`s Serpents du Lao (1970), contains suppositions and records that could not be traced to museum specimen by this author.
Some small museum collections were made by various workers earlier in the century, yet no attempt has been made to compile these records. Recent surveys by the author, supplemented with specimen and photographic contributions of other conservation workers and the holdings of specimens in various museums, have recorded at least 166 species of amphibians and reptiles for Lao. Presented here is an inventory of the known conservation status, distribution and habitat use of the amphibians and reptiles of Lao. Records of most species listed here are verifiable with voucher specimens.

Sight records of only the more easily identified species (platysternid, testudinid and some emydid turtles, Monitors, Pythons and King Cobra), and photographic records only of species of unambiguous taxonomy have been included to maintain a conservative list. With the exceptions of two species of turtles whose names are contained in brackets and of Siamese Crocodile, interview reports of species that were unconfirmed with voucher specimens have not been used, because of easily mistaken identification and incongruencies between folk and scientific taxonomy.

Because exploration of the herpetofauna of Lao is still in its infancy, the following inventory is not exhaustive. Species should not be considered limited in Lao to the reported habitats, elevation or range as further sampling will certainly expand these aspects for many of the species. the habitat descriptions and elevations are based on specimens encountered in the field by the author or on data associated with other Lao records: extrapolations from habitat use in neighbouring countries have not been made. Most of the sampling to date has been conducted in the central region, with the north and other area over 1000 m being particularly under-represented. A number of taxa have proven difficult to identify. These will require further studies and in some cases a revision of the genus before specie names can be properly assigned. These have been included only to the genus except for several frogs, which are listed under group(aquatic).

A special community of mammals, bird, reptiles are important for conservation in Lao PDR.

2.1.5.Gaps in taxonomic knowledge of wildlife
In the past, there were a few record on wildlife species known to occurred in Lao. Since 1988 up to now, in-cooperation with the foreign expert, wildlife have only been surveying in the designated and proposed protected areas and focused on the large mammals, birds and some amphibians. The Insects data and information are also very little known, as well as many type of plants species, particularly the herb species.

  1. Knowledge and status of wildlife habitat in Lao

The high international conservation significance of forests and other habitats in Laos has often been noted generally (e.g., MacKinnon 1986, Berkmüller et al. 1995b, Duckworth et al. 1999). A more specific assessment has been made through the analysis of ecoregions, contiguous habitats or ecosystems of a identifiable type. WWF compiled a global priority list of the ecoregions of highest significance in the world for biodiversity conservation, "The Global 200" (Olson and Dinerstein 1998). Four of these occur in Laos and its NBCAs:
Annamite Range Moist Forests

・ Indochina Dry Forests

・ Northern Indochina Sub-tropical Moist Forests

・ Mekong River and its catchment.

Contiguous and biogeographically similar ecoregions can be conceived as one ecoregions complex. WWF recently coordinated the identification and assessment of a complex covering central and southern Laos, central and southern Vietnam, and Cambodia. This has been termed the "Forests of the Lower Mekong ecoregions Complex" (FLMEC) and a detailed analysis of its biological significance is about to be published (Baltzer et al. in prep).
These ecoregions analyses, combined with the analyses of MacKinnon and MacKinnon (1986) and MacKinnon (1997), identify the following habitats in Laos of high international significance for conservation:
Evergreen Forests of the Annamite Mountains and foothills. This is considered the most biologically distinct ecosystem with the FLMEC. Species endemic is high for many taxa. Included are extremely wet forests, formed by a interaction of monsoon patterns and local topography. Annamite forests are found only in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, but they are probably of highest quality in Laos, due in part to lower human pressure. The Annamites proper are represented in Nakai-Nam Theun (NNT), Xe Xap (XXP) and Dong Ampham (DAP) NBCAs (although the biological communities in each are quite different). Foothills are represented in NBCAs such as Nam Kading (NKD). Box 1 describes features of the Annamite Range that make it so important.
Central Indochina Limestone Karst: Like the Annamites, species endemism is high and the habitat is found elsewhere only in Vietnam. It is represented in Laos in Phou Hin Poun (PHP) and Hin Nam No (HNN) NBCAs.

Dry Dipterocarp Forests of the Mekong Plain. Found mainly in southern Laos, and characterized by relatively flat, low elevation land with grass and herbs under widely spaced deciduous trees (predominantly Dipterocarpaceae). It is typically studded by permanent or seasonal pools, which are of high importance for a variety of wildlife, from large ungulates to rare waterbirds. This habitat is best represented in XPN NBCA.

Bolavens Plateau. This massif between the Mekong and the Annamites in southern Laos is a habitat of high distinctiveness in the FLMEC. It occurs only in Laos, and part of it is protected in only one gazetted NBCA, Dong Houa Sao (DHS).
Northern Highlands. The mountains of the north are biogeographically distinct from the Annamites in the central and southern part of the country, with different species assemblages. While they have received less attention than the Annamites, they are nonetheless an important habitat type. Representations occur in northern NBCAs such as Nam Ha (NHA), Phou Den Din (PDD), Nam Et (NET) and Phou Loey (PLY).
Mekong River. Laos has a pivotal role in the conservation of the biodiversity of the Mekong. Not only does much of the river run through Laos and along its border, more of the drainage that feeds the river is found in Laos than any other country. Laos is much more important to the river's conservation than the country with which it shares the Mekong as a border, Thailand. A boundary of one NBCA (PXT) is formed by the Mekong, but the river is not a focus of management (probably in part because it forms the international border with Thailand).

Other rivers and streams. Because of the extensive mountainous topography of Laos, streams are a widespread and key habitat. The fish diversity in streams of Laos is very high, and so is endemism (Baird 1998, Baltzer et al. in prep). Many NBCAs, especially the mountainous ones, include important extents of natural streams. A highly threatened, distinct habitat type are larger, slow moving rivers, such as the Nam Theun/Nam Kading in central Laos and the Xe Kong and Xe Banhiang in southern Laos. Very limited unaltered stretches of these rivers flow through any NBCA.

  1. Status of wildlife and conservation priorities

4.1. Status of wildlife in Lao.
Threatened species recorded in Lao PDR, based upon November 1998 data from the WCMC, comprised 220 plants and 150 animals. Numbers of threatened animals are shown in the table below. Categories of threat follow those of IUCN.








Critically Endangered

3 species

2 species

1 species

1 species














Least risk






Data deficient






60 species

72 species

10 species

9 species

The most highly threatened species (critically endangered and endangered), based upon information provided from the WCMC database, are listed below. Where appropriate, comments or corrections have been added based upon local information from relevant specialists.

Priorities are assessed from a national perspective. The international priorities can be deduced by combining the priority assessment with information in the global importance column.
Acute: species with very low and/or drastically reduced population levels, and that are unlikely to persist in Lao PDR unless all remaining populations and their habitats receive effective protection.
High: species that can still be maintained at viable levels in Lao PDR, but only if immediate and effective action to address the threats to them is taken; all are particularly vulnerable to habitat modification and / or hunting (and usually the interaction between these), and are likely soon to be reduced to critical levels if action is not taken.
Indeterminate: poorly known species that there are reasonable grounds for thinking that they may be under threat to the extent of being of Acute or High national priority, but for which status information is lacking.
Assessments are made on the best available information and are subjective. In some cases extrapolations are made from other countries / related species, to give the best indication for action. In cases where threats really are unclear, a question mark is used. Note that the assessments for birds differ from those in Thewlis et al. (1998), as the latter used an international perspective to assign priority for action.
Criteria for assignment of global significance category:
The contribution of the current Lao population to the conservation of the species is assessed, using maintenance of population numbers, of ancestral range or of genetic diversity (e.g. a well-marked subspecies endemic to Indochina is considered of higher significance than would be the same population if it belonged to a species not or weakly differentiated from those in neighbouring countries).

Very high: Species is very close to global extinction.
High: Species has a small global population and / or restricted range, and Lao populations comprise a significant proportion of remaining individuals; or subspecies potentially close to global extinction.
Moderate: Species has a small regional (Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand) population but is more numerous outside the region, or has a large regional population but is limited in distribution outside the region, and Lao numbers comprise a significant proportion of remaining individuals.
Low: The species occurs in good numbers in at least one of Cambodia, Vietnam or Thailand and there is no obvious special role of the Lao population in international conservation.
*Species is not confirmed to be extant in Lao PDR; assessment relates to Lao population if found to be present.

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