Biodiversity conservation in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area

Biodiversity conservation in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area

Red-shanked douc

(Pygathrix nemaeus)

The IUCN Status

LC Least Concern
NT
VU
EN Endangered
CR
EW
EX Extinct

White-cheeked gibbon

(Nomascus leucogenys)

The IUCN Status

LC Least Concern
NT
VU
EN
CR Critically Endangered
EW
EX Extinct
and several other species in Laos PDR’s Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area including small carnivores, small-medium sized cats and primates.

The challenge

When greed knows no bounds 
Southeast Asia has long been identified as being the region of the world with the highest biodiversity extinction risk. Laos and the Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area (NNT NPA) is no exception. The wildlife in the area is severely threatened by illegal hunting, for local consumption and particularly for the international trade. It shares a border of about 160 km with Vietnam, which increases pressure on wildlife from illegal poaching by Vietnamese. Illegal hunting from Lao hunters has dramatically intensified in the past two decades as trade value of wildlife has increased. Most hunted wildlife from NNT NPA is sold to Vietnamese and destined for Vietnam or China for traditional medicine use. Without control over unsustainable harvesting, the most hunting-sensitive and most sought-for species could face local extinction in the near future (e.g. primates, medium-sized cats, pangolins, turtles). Located within about 10 km along the Vietnamese border, Vietnamese poachers are increasingly coming further into the NPA to hunt wildlife.

The goal

Better data for targeted conservation efforts 
'
Project Anoulak tackles these challenges by engaging in biodiversity research and monitoring of species such as the red-shanked douc and the white-cheeked gibbon at the research site, so that novel data on the most threatened species will enable the team to better plan their conservation at the site. They also work with trained villagers from the local community to conduct patrols in one of the Biodiversity Core Zones so that data can be collected on threats encountered, and the relevant management authorities can be involved in mitigating threats and be better prepared to enforce the law. Beyond field-based efforts, Project Anoulak works with the community and its teachers to integrate environmental education and ultimately, to give Lao Nationals an opportunity to improve their technical skills and confidence, so that they can be the stewards of their local biodiversity. 

Our Role

An on-site presence to better understand the threats 
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WRS supports the project’s Field Station Manager, who works with the team to study the wildlife ecology in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area. 

The Impact

Defending Biodiversity Zones with better patrolling 
The project is on the path to improving conservation plans for threatened species. Its collaborative approach seeks to involve the local authorities in reducing illegal activities in one of the three Biodiversity Core Zones of Nakai-Nam Theun, and controlling such activities in the remaining two zones. This will ultimately cover an area of 200km2 and have wide-reaching impact on protecting the remaining threatened wildlife of Laos.