A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR

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A scoping mission to
Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
William Robichaud, Paul Insua-Cao, Chainoy Sisomphane and Sysay Chounnavanh
March 2010
This work was carried out with
funding from the Arcus Foundation.
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Citation:
W. Robichaud, P. Insua-Cao, C. Sisomphane and S. Chounnavanh, 2010, A scoping
mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR, Fauna & Flora International,
www.fauna-flora.org
Authors:
William Robichaud
Paul Insua-Cao, FFI China-Indochina Primate Programme Manager
Chainoy Sisomphane, Head of Wildlife Management Section, Division of Forest Resources
Conservation, Department of Forestry, Lao PDR
Sysay Chounnavanh
Date:
March 2010
Funded by: ARCUS Foundation
Cover photo:
Treehouse 1 of the Gibbon Experience. Photo by Chainoy Sisomphane
All views expressed within are the authors’ alone unless attributed otherwise and do not necessarily
reflect the opinion of Fauna & Flora International or Government of Lao PDR. While the authors and
editors strive for rigour and accuracy in presenting this report, Fauna & Flora International make no
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COPYRIGHT
© 2010 Fauna & Flora International www.fauna-flora.org
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A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................. 4
Acronyms ................................................................................................................................. 4
1
Summary .......................................................................................................................... 5
2
Background....................................................................................................................... 7
2.1
Global and national status of N. concolor ............................................................................. 7
2.2
Objectives............................................................................................................................... 8
3
Itinerary and methods....................................................................................................... 9
4
Main local stakeholders.................................................................................................... 9
4.1
Nam Kan National Protected Area ........................................................................................ 9
4.2
Animo / The Gibbon Experience ......................................................................................... 11
5
Overview of status and conservations issues related to gibbons in Nam Kan ............. 11
6
Information on other species of conservation interest ................................................... 15
6.1
Selected species accounts .................................................................................................. 15
6.2
General impressions ............................................................................................................ 19
6.3
Notes on trade and other threats to wildlife ........................................................................ 20
7
Notes on village interviews............................................................................................. 23
8
Economic and cultural issues related to biodiversity conservation in the areas visited 25
9
8.1
The new road through Bokeo connecting China and Thailand .......................................... 25
8.2
Village issues ....................................................................................................................... 26
Conclusions and recommendations ............................................................................... 27
9.1
Conservation opportunities identified by the mission .......................................................... 27
9.2
Challenges ........................................................................................................................... 27
9.3
Recommended conservation actions .................................................................................. 28
10 References ..................................................................................................................... 29
Appendix 1. Detailed itinerary ............................................................................................... 30
Appendix 2. Map of Nam Kan National Protected Area showing areas visited ................... 31
Appendix 3. Map of Nam Kan National Protected Area ....................................................... 32
Appendix 4. Results of village interviews for wildlife other than gibbons ............................. 33
Appendix 5. Bird species recorded ....................................................................................... 43
Appendix 6: Details of the incident of a villager killed by a Tiger......................................... 45
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A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank the following for their support and cooperation in conducting
this mission:
Field team
Eadsy Lounglad
Bokeo PAFO / Deputy Director of Nam Kan NPA
Phonxay (Sid)
Bokeo PAFO / Animo
Soulinga Inta
Houayxay DAFO
Oumkham Boumthong
Mung DAFO
Xieng Oudomsak
Driver
Bouaphan Phanthavong
Director of the Division of Forest Resource Conservation,
Department of Forestry
Khamxone Keopaseut
Deputy Director of Bokeo PAFO
Kampaeng Xaynhasack
Director of NPA
Inthanom
Deputy Director of Forest Division / Bokeo PAFO
Jean-François Reumaux
Animo / Gibbon Experience
Stuart Ling and Vansy
VECO Rural Development Project
The staff of IUCN Lao PDR
The people of Ban Mokhouk for vehicle recovery
Acronyms
ADB
Asian Development Bank
Ban
Village
DAFO
District Agriculture and Forestry Office
DoF
Department of Forestry
DFRC
Division of Forest and Resource Conservation (within DoF)
FFI
Fauna & Flora International
FIPD
Forest Inventory and Planning Division
NPA
National Protected Area (previously and often still referred to as NBCA - National
Biodiversity Conservation Area)
PAFO
Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office
VECO
Vredeseilanden - a Flemish Rural Development NGO
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A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
1 Summary
Background
Lao PDR is a country of high global importance for gibbon conservation, but has been
somewhat overlooked. One of its most endangered gibbon species is the globally Critically
Endangered Western Black Crested Gibbon Nomascus concolor. Outside Lao PDR this
gibbon species is known only from Yunnan Province, China (which is the stronghold of the
species), and north-west Vietnam, where only one known viable population remains. Within
Lao PDR, only one location is currently believed to have a viable population, the recently
established Nam Kan National Protected Area (NPA) in Bokeo and Luang Namtha Provinces.
Fortunately, part of this population has been protected in recent years through patrols funded
by a tourism project, called The Gibbon Experience, which uses the presence of the gibbon as
a flagship species to attract visitors. Nevertheless the status of N. concolor at Nam Kan NPA
is unclear, and as a newly-established and under-resourced protected area, the Department of
Forestry considers Nam Kan NPA a high priority for support.
During 12 days in February 2010, a mission was conducted to Bokeo Province and Nam Kan
NPA by a team led by Fauna & Flora International (FFI). The purpose was to assess the
conservation needs for the protected area and the status of and threats to the Western Black
Crested Gibbons. The team was supported by staff of the Provincial and District Agriculture
and Forestry Offices (PAFO/DAFOs) throughout.
Meetings were held with PAFO staff and the manager of The Gibbon Experience in Houayxay
town to learn about on-going activities and issues in the protected area and to prioritise sites
to visit. Interviews were conducted at six villages within and bordering the protected area in
Houayxay and Mung Districts, and where time and circumstances allowed brief visits were
made to nearby forests.
Findings
Nam Kan NPA is probably the most important, and perhaps the only, location in Lao PDR with
a viable population of N. concolor, making it an area of high national priority for conservation
of gibbons and of global significance for conservation of the species. Gibbons are certainly
present in the area of the treehouses of The Gibbon Experience, where 9 to 14 groups are
stated to live. In contrast, gibbons seem to be uncommon or absent further south near the
settled Nam Ngao river. In the north of the protected area in Mung District the situation is
unclear. Gibbons seem genuinely absent from a significant area of the most northerly part of
the NPA, but they may be present in adjacent production forest, although in what numbers is
impossible to say. Conflicting information was provided in the only village visited in Mung
District, highlighting the care that must be taken in drawing conclusions from relatively brief
village interviews.
Information on other species of conservation concern was also collected. Reports of large cats
(usually described as being Tigers Panthera tigris) from most village interviews and also of
prey species, especially Sambar Cervus unicolor, indicate that the area may also have high
national importance for Tiger conservation. Sambar tracks were invariably found during the
brief field visits, and one animal was probably seen. By contrast, arboreal animals such as
squirrels seemed uncommon, and all villages reported the extirpation of large hornbills. A
possible explanation for this disparity in observations between ground-dwelling and arboreal
animals is that gun hunting is prevalent and snaring much less so. Certainly, hunting is a
major threat to gibbons in Nam Kan NPA, and probably the highest immediate priority to
address. A recently completed international road, R3, through the area to China is
exacerbating the problem. Provincial officials reported that it is a conduit for importing illegal
animal traps and gun ammunition, and for the export of wildlife.
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A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Recommended conservation actions
Gibbons
1. Gibbon surveys with an objective to: clarify distribution of N. concolor in Nam Kan NPA (in
particular to prioritise forest areas for more direct protection) and provide, as resources
allow, baseline data to assess population status and, through future surveys, trends.
2. Analysis of forest cover to assess: extent of potential habitat for gibbons; potential
connectivity (or lack of) between gibbon subpopulations in the NPA; and priorities for
surveys.
3. Research and assessment of the relative importance of existing and emerging threats to
gibbons (e.g., is it hunting for subsistence, or hunting for trade; hunting by particular
villagers, ethnic groups or outsiders; forest loss to swidden, or to logging, etc.). In sum,
what conservation issues are highest priority for a project to ultimately address?
4. Inform local communities about the national and global significance of the local gibbon
population, to raise their pride, with the goal of reducing local hunting of gibbons.
5. Expand patrolling to protect gibbons from hunters.
6. Strengthen monitoring and data collection of known gibbon groups, especially the core
population around The Gibbon Experience tree houses, by developing a monitoring
programme and providing training to NPA and The Gibbon Experience staff on gibbon
surveying and monitoring techniques, as well as a basic understanding of gibbon ecology.
7. Ecological research on Western Black Crested Gibbons in Nam Kan NPA to contribute to
more effective long-term conservation.
Tigers
8. Investigate and, if possible, confirm the presence of Tigers in Nam Kan NPA, and make an
initial assessment of population size and the significance of the Nam Kan population.
Protected area management
9. Clear zoning within the protected area, based upon identification of biodiversity hotspots
and needs of local communities, and carried out with participation from local communities
10. Capacity building for protected area staff on participatory village land-use planning.
11. Investigating mechanisms to significantly expand patrolling capacity in the NPA in
collaboration with Animo / The Gibbon Experience.
Mitigation of the impacts of the R3 road
12. Open discussion with regional offices of the Asian Development Bank (the road's principal
proponent), to inform them of the road's likely serious threat to Nam Kan NPA, and to
solicit their support for mitigation, such as improved customs checks and financial support
to the management of Nam Kan NPA.
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A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
2 Background
Lao PDR has a high diversity of gibbon species, second only to Indonesia. Under the
taxonomic treatment of the current IUCN Red List, six species were confirmed to persist in
Lao PDR during the 1990s; Western Black Crested Gibbon Nomascus concolor; Northern
White-cheeked Crested Gibbon N. leucogenys; Southern White-cheeked Crested Gibbon N.
siki; a form of uncertain identity but morphologically close to Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon
N. gabriellae; White-handed Gibbon Hylobates lar and Pileated Gibbon H. pileatus (Duckworth
2008). Of these, both N. concolor and N. leucogenys are listed as Critically Endangered on
the IUCN Red List of Threatend Species (IUCN 2009). The Lao population of N. concolor has
previously been identified as a distinct race N. c. lu, although the taxaonomic validity of this
remains questionable (Geissmann 2007a). In any case, securing key populations of N.
concolor and N. leucogenys in Lao PDR have been identified as highest priorities both
nationally and internationally for gibbon conservation (Duckworth 2008).
2.1
Global and national status of N. concolor
N. concolor is distributed from north-west Lao PDR, east through Yunnan Province in southern
China and in the Hoanglien Mountains of north-west Vietnam.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has being leading conservation of N. concolor in Vietnam
since the rediscovery of populations there in the late 1990s. The species is currently only
known from two locations; a forest area encompassing Mu Cang Chai Species and Habitat
Conservation Area in Yen Bai Province and neighbouring parts of Muong La District in Son La
Province, and Van Ban Nature Reserve in Lao Cai Province. The most recent reported census
in 2008 of the Mu Cang Chai / Muong La forest area recorded 17 family groups, which was
lower than previous surveys and indicated increased pressures on the gibbons in the
unprotected forest area of Muong La (Le Trong Dat et al., 2008). Nevertheless, the population
in Mu Cang Chai appears to have stablised and started growing, compared with recent
previous surveys (Le Trong Dat et al., 2006, 2008 and 2010 in press). In Van Ban Nature
Reserve the local population of N. concolor is probably no longer viable, with an estimate of
only 2 to 5 groups recently recorded in separate locations (Le Trong Dat 2009).
Yunnan Province in China remains the global stronghold for N. concolor. The species is
distributed west of the Red River in several fragmented populations, including the only area
with Nomascus west of the Mekong River. The largest known population in Yunnan and
globally is along the north-south mountain chain of Wuliangshan National Nature Reserve,
with an estimated 98 groups (Jiang Xuelong 2008). A recent survey supported by FFI in
Xinping Country indicates that Ailaoshan National Nature Reserve, situated on a neighbouring
mountain chain parallel to Wuliangshan, may have a gibbon population comparable if not
greater than Wuliangshan. In south-east Yunnan there may be several locations with small
isolated sub-populations of one or two groups. Information is lacking on the status of N.
concolor west of the Mekong with no new records from the past decade. Habitat fragmentation
is a major issue for N. concolor in Yunnan Province and even at Wuliangshan the population
may be divided into 19 isolated sub-populations (Jiang Xuelong 2008). Following a pause in
gibbon conservation activities in the province, in 2008, FFI reinitiated its involvement in
Yunnan for conservation of N. concolor by reviewing the status of the species with all relevant
protected areas and local forestry bureau authorities. Since then FFI has been endeavouring
to build the capacity of protected areas and local forestry bureaux for conservation of N.
concolor, particularly through improved monitoring and data collection and supporting surveys
in priority areas.
There are only two areas in Lao PDR where N. concolor is known to be present; Nam Ha
National Protected Area (NPA) in Luang Namtha Province, close to Yunnan Province, and just
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A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
south in Nam Kan NPA, Luang Namtha and Bokeo Provinces. In Nam Ha, however, the
species appears to be on the verge of extinction (Brown 2009). Nam Kan NPA currently
appears to offer the best hope for the species in Lao PDR. In 2008, Nam Kan NPA was
upgraded from a provincial to national protected area covering an area of about 130,000 ha.
For the past five years, a company called Animo has acquired forest concessions in the
protected area with the intention of protecting the species. This it has done largely by
supporting patrols in an area of gibbon habitat, which are funded by a parallel tourism initiative
owned by Animo in the same forest called “The Gibbon Experience”. Nevertheless, the status
of the species remained unclear with the last published survey information being from a
survey conducted in 1999 which recorded five groups in one central area of the forest
(Geissmann 2007b). More recent information came from anecdotal reports from visitors to The
Gibbon Experience and from its owner/manager, Jean-François Reumaux, indicating that the
population may be more widespread than the area of tourism activities. Still there was no
clear understanding of its distribution or numbers. Although there is the possibility of other
isolated sub-populations in north-west Lao PDR, Nam Kan NPA currently is plausibly the only
area in Lao PDR where there may be an opportunity to secure a population of N. concolor
nationally and also contribute significantly to global conservation of the species. As a result,
Nam Kan was highlighted as an area of highest national priority to support gibbon
conservation in Lao PDR (Duckwork 2008). As the country's newest national protected area,
the Department of Forestry is also keen to see that Nam Kan NPA receives support to
develop its capacity for protected area management. Indicental records of wildlife suggest an
odd mix of species, including Green Imperial Pigeon (T. D. Evans in litt. 2006), a species
almost eradicated from Lao PDR north of the Xe Bang-nouan; its persistence in Nam Kan
NPA suggests that other highly hunting-sensitive species might occur there too.
FFI’s global support for conservation of the Western black crested gibbon makes Nam Kan
NPA a site of immediate interest. Its Critically Endangered status requires that no viable
populations can be overlooked.
2.2
Objectives
The main objective of the mission was to assess the conservation needs for the protected
area and the status of and threats to the Western Black Crested Gibbons there, and identify
how FFI may be able to provide support to address those needs.
Specific objectives of the mission were:
• Identify with local government their capacity-building needs to support the objectives of the
•
•
•
•
•
protected area, in particular Bokeo Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office (PAFO), staff
of Nam Kan NPA in Houayxay District, and the Houayxay and Mung District Agriculture
and Forestry Offices (DAFO).
Understand the efforts of the Gibbon Experience to support conservation locally.
Improve understanding of the status of gibbons and other wildlife of conservation concern,
especially in areas away from the Gibbon Experience operation (through village interviews
and, secondarily, trips into the NPA forests).
Review socio-economic conditions in a few villages close to the forest in Houayxay and
Mung Districts to understand the impact of the protected area on local lives, conservation
issues arising from local communities and opportunities for mutual support to nature
conservation and local livelihoods.
Assess roles of key stakeholders in the area.
Develop a plan to support the protected area and its gibbons.
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A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
3 Itinerary and methods
The mission was conducted from 16 to 27 February 2010 in Bokeo Province with 18 to 25
February spent in and around Nam Kan NPA. In the provincial town of Houayxay, the team
met PAFO and DAFO officials to learn about the protected area and discuss logistics in the
field, and in particular to select villages to visit. Villages were selected based upon likely
proximity to gibbon habitat, accessibility, and from where little information was known to the
team from other sources. Discussions were also held with Jean-François Reumaux of Animo
to learn about the functioning and objectives of The Gibbon Experience and refine village
selection. The team was accompanied by two PAFO staff during the trip to Nam Kan NPA and
one DAFO staff from each of the two districts.
Attention during this survey was given mainly (and visits made only) to portions of the NPA in
Houayxay and Mung Districts, and not to Pha Oudom District (extreme south of the NPA;
Bokeo Province); Long District (north-east) nor Vieng Phoukha District (east; Luang Namtha
Province). These three districts comprise more than a third of the NPA (mainly to the east),
but information on gibbons there remains scant or non-existent.
The mission sought to get a overview of the area in Mung and Houayxay Districts with about
a day spent in each village (focused on biodiversity interviews with residents) and where
possible short visits to local forests.
In each village, where possible, interviews were initially conducted by the team (variously
Chainoy, Sysay, Bill and Paul) in the house of the village head with a group of residents,
known for being especially familiar with forests and wildlife of the area. This was the ideal, but
could not always be followed for various reasons. Interviews with village representatives
usually lasted about one or two hours. The interviews focussed mainly on obtaining
information on the local presence of key wildlife species, especially gibbons, but other socioeconomic information was also collected. Initially villagers were usually requested to sketch
village maps indicating key features such as village boundaries, rivers, swidden areas and
mineral licks as a means to facilitate and orient discussion. Mammal field guides were used
towards the end of interviews to cross-check information given during discussion, especially
where there was uncertainty about species identifications. Some of the interview sessions
were recorded by digital video.
Interviews were usually followed-up with more informal one-to-one discussions by Lao
members of the team. The time available for interviews was limited, often by the villagers’ own
availability and it was not expected to get much more than a sense of the issues and
presence of wildlife around each village.
Local forests were visited at most villages. A detailed itinerary is given in Appendix 1 and map
showing locations visted as Appendix 2.
4 Main local stakeholders
4.1
Nam Kan National Protected Area
According to Bokeo PAFO, Nam Kan National Protected Area covers an area of 136,000 ha,
of which about 66,000 ha is in Bokeo Province and 70,000 ha is in Luang Namtha Province.
NPA boundaries used by Bokeo PAFO and the central government Forestry Inventory and
Planning Division (FIPD) differ, but for the purposes of this report and during the mission the
Bokeo PAFO boundary was used (see the map in Appendix 3). The location of the provincial
boundary within the protected area remains unclear. According to Bokeo PAFO the provincial
boundary is based upon an agreement with Luang Namtha PAFO, which differs from the
boundary recognised by the military. Production forest is adjacent to much of the protected
9
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
area and some forest that was previously classified as production forest is now included inside
the protected area.
The area was established as a provincial protected area in 1996 managed by Bokeo
Provincial Forestry Division. At that time, it lay entirely inside Bokeo Province, bordering
Luang Namtha Province and covered an area of less than 50,000 ha. It was established as
Nam Kan National Protected Area in 2008, straddling both Bokeo and Luang Namtha
Provinces. Within Bokeo Province the NPA largely falls within Mung and Houayxay Districts
from north to south with a small area south of the Nam Kan River and R3 road in Pha Oudom
District. In Luang Namtha the NPA covers parts of Vieng Phongkha District and Long Districts.
Kampheng Xaynhasak is Director of the entire NPA in both Bokeo and Luang Namtha
Provinces, while being based at the Bokeo PAFO. He studied biology, including wildlife
monitoring at university level. He is supported in Bokeo Province by Eadsy Lounglad who has
a background in forestry. These are the only two NPA staff in Bokeo Province. When required
they expect to receive support from DAFO staff, usually about two staff from each of the three
districts. Animo / The Gibbon Experience supports protection of its concession areas in the
protected area by funding community patrol teams, which report to the protected area on a
monthly basis (described in more detail below). One person contracted by Animo is also
seconded to PAFO, effectively providing another government staff member. A law
enforcement team from PAFO can be called upon to support the Animo patrols when violators
are apprehended.
The main conservation issues perceived by the protected area staff come from hunting, timber
poaching and uncertainty over areas of village land used inside the protected area, particularly
for swidden. The protected area staff consider that outsiders are the most important hunting
threat, particularly soliders, whilst hunting by villagers is mainly for subsistence. Bokeo
Province has had a gun collection programme, however, villages simply make replacement
guns and there is a perceived need from PAFO to work with other government agencies to
control trade in ammunition and gun parts, which are readily available from China. Legal guns,
e.g., for soldiers or village security, are also used for hunting. According to the Deputy
Director of PAFO other items coming from China which are becoming a problem for
biodiversity conservation in Bokeo also include chainsaws, steel traps and equipment for
electric fishing.
In Houayxay District there are about 10 villages inside Nam Kan NPA and another 14 villages
close by. Mung District has 21 villages close to the protected area and Pha Oudom has 2
villages next to the protected area and neither district has villages inside the protected area. In
Luang Namtha, there are 2 villages inside the protected area in Vieng Phongkha District.
About ten different ethnic groups are living in and around the protected area. PAFO and
DAFO staff are also comprised of different ethnicities. Forest and land allocation has been
facilitated by NPA staff in many of the villages and display boards showing village land use
maps can be found in most villages.
Currently, the protected area receives an annual budget from the Department of Forestry of
100 million kip (about 12,000 USD) in 2009 and 2010, although it is unclear whether and how
this will continue. Typically, these funds are mainly distributed to the districts to support landuse planning and education about laws governing natural resource use in villages in and near
the NPA. They are not used for patrolling. DoF has some concerns about how funds are used
and the transparency of accounting.
The NPA Director sees a clear division of roles between government and Animo, with the
latter focussed on direct protection of their concessions, which includes areas important for
gibbons.
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A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Expressed priorities for the NPA include:
ƒ
Zonation, including internal zoning, where there are apparently 5 zones labelled A to E
(see www.gibbonx.org) and land-use planning around villages.
ƒ
Livelihood activities to replace shifting cultivation.
ƒ
Improving collaboration with Luang Namtha Province.
ƒ
Awareness raising among local communities and installing signboards that have already
been constructed.
ƒ
Expanding the area under patrol within the NPA, with a particular focus on Ban
Namkha-lue, Pha Oudom District and Kethalong at the boundary with Luang Namtha.
4.2
Animo / The Gibbon Experience
Since the late 1990s, conservation activities in the Nam Kan area have been driven by French
entrepreneur Jean Francois Reumaux, who has established the company Animo and its
flagship tourism project “The Gibbon Experience”. Animo describes itself as “a conservationbased eco-tourism company with a mandate from the Lao government to facilitate the
sustainable and profitable conservation of the Bokeo Nature Reserve in conjunction with the
indigenous inhabitants of the protected area” (www.gibbonx.org on 03 March 2010). It has
three forest concessions within the new NPA, from the time before the protected area was
established, which last until 2020. The Gibbon Experience was opened in 2004 and is now a
successful tourism venture comprising seven treehouses linked by zip lines within forest areas
inhabited by the gibbons. It employs over 70 people from the nearest Mong village of Ban
Toup, including 11 community patrollers divided into three patrol groups, which are
accompanied by soldiers. There are plans to expand the number of patrollers by contracting
another 11 local soldiers. One staff member salaried by the Gibbon Experience works with
PAFO to support the protected area. Animo has also been active in lobbying local government
to protect the forest, including halting encroachment logging in its concessions.
Gibbons are regularly seen and heard by visitors. According to J.-F. Reumaux, there are eight
to ten groups in the area around the main Gibbon Experience activities. He has been regularly
observing, taking photos and filming the gibbons.
Reumaux's vision is to involve all villages around the NPA in activities that support
conservation. The most recent initiative is establishing tree nurseries of five economically
valuable local species for selling seedlings in Houayxay town.
Through the patrols it funds, Animo provides the only direct protection of gibbons in the NPA.
5 Overview of status and conservations issues related to gibbons in Nam
Kan
5.1 Introduction
In the Preliminary Gibbon Status Review for Lao PDR 2008 (Duckworth 2008), the known
status of Western Black Crested Gibbon in Nam Kan NPA is limited to some general
information from the areas of The Gibbon Experience ecotourism venture. This recent survey
has yielded some additional information. Information from The Gibbon Experience ecotourism
venture comes principally from the southern portion of the NPA, in Houayxay District between
the Nam Kan (north) and Nam Ngao (south) rivers, where the Gibbon Experience's core
activities and active concessions are. J.-F. Reumaux informed the team of the presence of 9
to 14 gibbon groups in this area, covering roughly 140 km2 (this is not the estimated size of
Animo's concessions, but the area between Nam Kan and Nam Ngao where J.-F. Reumaux
indicated knowledge of gibbon presence). This survey focused on gathering information
11
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
beyond this (within Bokeo Province), through village interviews and, where time allowed, brief
ventures into surrounding forest.
5.2 Results of village gibbon interviews and forest visits
Detailed information of each village can be found in Appendix 4.
Ban Mokhouk (Houayxay District): Interviews in Ban Mokhouk were not planned, but were
done briefly and opportunistically after the team became stalled in the village following a
problem with the team's vehicle. The village has been at its current site for 14 years. The
village chief, Mr. Viengthong, said they moved from a mountainous area in Luang Namtha
Province a full day's walk away. Interestingly, the 1986 edition 1:100 000 Republique
Democratique Populaire Lao Service Geographique d'Etat topographic maps show a "B. Mok
Houk" ca. 2 km west of the village's current location, so the story may be more complicated
(possibly involving consolidation of a large distant village with a smaller, local one).
Several men questioned said they never see gibbons near the current village site. One
informant said when they arrived 14 years ago gibbons could be heard at the village site, but
were subsequently shot out by soldiers purportedly sent to help the village construct rice
paddies. One informant said there were never any gibbons at the old village site in Luang
Namtha, because the nearest good forest was a full day's walk away, while another said the
local gibbons there had been shot out.
Ban Satoon (Houayxay District): This village near Ban Mokhouk (Two hours slow walk
away), was visited briefly one morning. The village has occupied its current site for only ten
years, having relocated from another site 12 hours' walk away. As in Ban Mokhouk,
informants reported that there are no gibbons in the area of the current village.
Ban Sod (Houayxay District): The villagers discussed two discrete areas - to the north of the
village and the new R3 road, which leads toward the interior of Nam Kan NPA, and to the
south of the village and the road, towards the Nam Ngao river. Gibbons have not been seen
to the south since 1982, when the area was cleared for cultivation. Some gibbons remain to
the north, about two hours walk toward the Nam Kan river. Informants last heard them while in
a swidden in November and December 2009, and said that these are generally the only
months when the gibbons are heard calling..
The morning after the interviews, William, Paul, Soulinga (Houayxay DAFO) and a guide (one
of the interview informants) walked north to the Nam Kan river, reaching it at N20o29'03" x
E100o53'29.5", which took less that 2 ½ hours at a fairly slow walking pace (after being driven
by truck the first 20 or 30 minutes walking distance from the village). The trail wound through
patches of scrub, sympodial bamboos, secondary forest (one patch estimated by the guide to
be seven years old, the time since it was last cultivated) and seemingly uncut, mature forest
(or forest that had been cleared, if at all, decades previously). The guide said that residents
of Ban Sod had never cleared the patches of mature forest for swiddens, because the large
trees made it too difficult, and they preferred to clear secondary forest. In one of the
swiddens along the way, the guide pointed out forest on a ridgeline to the east from where he
had heard gibbons calling in the past year (Photo 1). At the Nam Kan river, we proceeded
west for about 90 minutes along the course of the river to a mineral lick near N20o28'58" x
E100o52'15", in fairly good forest. This was another area where the guide reported that
gibbons could be heard.
12
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Photo 1: Guide from Ban Sod points to gibbon habitat
Ban Chomsy (Houayxay District): Villagers in Ban Chomsy-Tai (one of three satellite
communities that comprise Ban Chomsy) report that gibbons cannot now be heard from the
village, but could when the site was first settled in 1992. Today, the nearest site where
gibbons can be heard is said to be four hours walk away, near the "Houay Na Tom" stream.
The village is Black Lahu ethnicity (called by the Lao counterparts by the exonymn "museu
dam"). Gibbons were listed among several wildlife species for which the elderly Black Lahu
informant reported that Ban Chomsy residents have a taboo against eating.
Ban Namkha-lue (Mung District): The status of gibbons in the area of Ban Namkha-lue (the
only village visited in the northern, Mung District portion of the NPA) remains somewhat
unclear. The village has, according to the village chief, been at its current site since 1858,
when residents moved there from Burma. We interviewed a group of nine men, age 25 to 63
(half of them in their 30s) and one woman age 36, all of them born in the village except for
one, now age 48, who has been a resident for 15 years. The consensus (or, the only view
expressed to the team during the interview) is that gibbons have been gone from the area for
a long time, at least 30 years, and that the gibbons 'ran away and hid'. All informants under
age 40 said they have never seen or heard a gibbon. Some speculated that they were shot by
armed anti-government forces hiding in the local forests after 1975. The 15-year resident, 48
year-old Mr. Wansai, later said he first came to the area as a Lao PDR soldier to pursue the
counter-revolutionaries hiding in the forest. He said he camped in nearby forest often while a
soldier at this time (citing the year 1989), and saw 'every type of wildlife, such as Sambar and
wild cattle, but never gibbons'. He attributed the local extirpation of gibbons not to the
counter-revolutionaries, but to seven or eight local Lahu villages, which the government
subsequently relocated from the forest to the Mung District centre ten or more years ago.
Whether a Lahu-driven decline in gibbons (if in fact this happened) would have resulted from
forest clearance for swidden, from hunting, or from both in substantial measures is unclear.
Hunting as the driver is at odds with the reported Black Lahu taboo on eating gibbons, unless
Lahu killed the animals in sufficient numbers for trade - whether of meat, bones and/or infants.
One informant, 60 year-old Mr. Chanthaly, said that he personally wouldn't eat a gibbon
because they are too much like people, but that the Lue (the predominant ethnic group of the
village) have no formal taboos against eating them (or any other animal - see Appendix 4),
13
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
and that other village men, especially younger ones, are unlikely to feel any resistance to
eating gibbons. At this, one of the younger ones joked, 'If it has meat, we can eat it.'
The morning following the interviews, part of the team proceeded by boat under paddle power
(mostly) down the Nam Kha river (which, after entrance of a downstream tributary, the local
name changes to the Nam Touey, although this stretch continues to be labeled on the 1:100
000 topographic maps as "Nam Kha") to investigate the general quality of the NPA. As we
proceeded downstream, village guides indicated that we generally had the NPA on the south
bank, and production forest (from which road construction and/or repair and vehicles could
sometimes be heard) on the north side, yet forest quality often appeared better on the north
bank. This result may not be as anomalous as it first appears: production forest (whether
national or village level) may only be selectively logged and is protected from clear-cutting for
cultivation. The NPA forest on the south bank, which apparently encompasses village lands
of Ban Namkha-lue, is clearly not protected from clearance for swidden (at least some
stretches of it).
Camp was made on the river at N20o44'52" x E100o35'21", and from this point we returned to
the village the next morning, leaving at 08:25 in light fog, under motor power. No gibbons
were heard or seen during any part of the trip.
Upon reaching the village in early afternoon, two days after the seemingly unequivocal
interview result of decades-long local absence of gibbons, we learned that an older village
man, Mr. Toon, reported to one of the team members (Chainoy), who remained behind in the
village to conduct additional interviews) that he and his wife heard gibbons from their rice
paddy in November and December 2009, and had regularly heard them there in previous
years. The site is only about 2 km from the village, but outside the NPA, near or in an area of
production forest (probably north or east of the village). Chainoy reported that Mr. Toon
correctly imitated gibbon calls as the animals he heard, and is confident of the veracity of the
report. When the rest of the team learned of the report, no time remained to visit the site, and
Mr. Toon was not present for follow-up questioning. At about this time, however, one of the
participants in the earlier group interview, the village chief, returned to the village. When asked
about the disparity between the interview information and Mr. Toon's report, he replied that
perhaps only Mr. Toon and his wife could hear gibbons, from their particular paddy. Some
team members speculated that the interview participants may have intentionally hidden from
the team knowledge of gibbons outside the NPA, aware that our survey focus was gibbon
conservation, and in fear that we might promote extending the area of the NPA.
5.3 Conclusion
A preliminary assessment is that gibbon numbers in Nam Kan are significant (and possibly
highest in the NPA) around the uninhabited Nam Kan river and its tributaries in the heart of
the NPA. In particular, gibbons apparently remain in reasonable numbers (based on
information kindly provided by J.-F. Reumaux) in the areas of The Gibbon Experience
treehouses and associated patrolling sectors. For one thing, although The Gibbon Experience
enterprise has undoubtedly been instrumental in protecting gibbons in the area, the animals
reportedly avoid the immediate areas around the treehouses, for a radius of 50-100 m, or ca.
1 to 3 hectares per treehouse (of which there are seven). There is likely similar avoidance of
the routes of the zip lines, but how much 'no-go' area this might encompass is not known. J.F. Reumaux also reported the possible presence of gibbons in other locations in the NPA in
Bokeo; one group to the south-west close to the Nam Ngao and Ban Nalouang, two to three
groups in between that location and the treehouses and about three groups close to Ban
Chomsy.
The fact that the densest concentration of gibbons seems to be in the core area of the
treehouses indicates that the presence and use of the tourist treehouses are perhaps a net
benefit to gibbon conservation. However, it may be possible that the reported higher gibbon
14
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
numbers here is due, at least in part, to the simple fact that the gibbons are best-known and
best-counted near the treehouses. This merits further investigation.
In contrast, gibbons seem to be uncommon or absent further south near the settled Nam
Ngao river - at least the eastern portions visited during this survey. In particular, in Ban Sod
village, which lies between the two rivers, residents were explicit in saying that gibbons have
long been absent from areas to the south toward the Nam Ngao, but can still be heard toward
north toward the Nam Kan. This result should be used with caution, given the caveats
regarding interviews discussed in Section 6 below, but it was generally corroborated by
information supplied by residents of Ban Mokhouk and Ban Satoon.
In the north in Mung District the situation is unclear. Gibbons seem genuinely absent from a
significant area of the most northerly part of the NPA (assuming that village informants would
have little to gain from concealing the presence of gibbons in an area already designated as
national protection forest), but they may be present in adjacent production forest, although in
what numbers is impossible to say (the north is also an area unknown to staff of The Gibbon
Experience). Production forest may, in fact, provide better habitat for gibbons than village
agricultural land within the NPA.
Regarding the eastern, Luang Namtha Province portion of the NPA, there is considerable lack
of clarity on even where the boundary of the two provinces lies, and how much of the NPA is
in Luang Namtha and how much in Bokeo. The only information collected about gibbons in
the general area during the survey is J.-F. Reumaux's report that he knows one area (around
ca. N20o33'30" x E100o55') with two to five gibbon groups.
In summary, knowledge of gibbon status is currently best in the southern portion of the NPA
(where the animals are relatively common in some areas, probably absent in others), some
information is available from the north (probably extirpated from some areas), and little is
known about the central and eastern portions of the NPA, other than that at least some
gibbons reportedly persist in these sections.
6 Information on other species of conservation interest
6.1
Selected species accounts
Appendix 4 summarizes the results from village interviews about wildlife, and Appendix 5 is a
summary of birds observed during the trip. Below is additional detail about species of
particular conservation concern or observations of note during the survey.
Great Barbet (Megalaima virens): What were probably Great Barbets were regularly heard
during the survey. When asked the question, "What species of wildlife have declined the most
in the area of your village in the past 10-15 years?", informants in Ban Chomsy answered,
curiously, with a bird whose description, including call (and identification from a field guide)
matched Great Barbet, although the reasons for the decline are not clear.
large hornbills (Buceros/Aceros): All villages visited reported a complete absence of large
hornbills ("nok kok") from their local areas, and some said they have been gone for up to 15
years. No large hornbill casques were observed in any houses. It was reported to us that
Great Hornbills have recently been photographed in the area of the Gibbon Experience
venture, but the photographs shown to us are of Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros
albirostris).
Grey-headed Parakeet (Psittacula finschii): Duckworth et al. (1999) and elaborated further in
Fuchs et al. (2007) reported that the species seems to be very scarce in northern Laos.
Several captive parakeets were seen in Ban Chomsy, and all identified to species were Grey-
15
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
headed (Photo 2), which is the only parakeet confirmed to persist in the northern highlands at
all.
Photo 2: Grey-headed parakeets in Ban Chomsy
grey leaf monkeys (Semnopithecus): Three of five villages questioned about leaf monkeys
reported the presence of a species that was generally described as being grey in color with a
long tail. It should first be noted that asking villagers about leaf monkeys is not
straightforward, for two reasons:
1) There is apparently no correlate in Lao for the English terms 'leaf monkey' or 'langur'.
In Lao (and likely many of the other languages widely spoken in Laos), each species is
designated with a unique name, unattached to a general classifier. In short, there is no
way to ask directly in Lao, "Are there any types of colobine monkeys in the area?"
2) With the exception of Red-shanked Douc, local Lao names for colobine monkeys
apparently vary regionally in the country. Working with villages for whom Lao is a second
language magnifies the complexity and potential confusion.
Consequently, information about leaf monkeys had to be solicited with leading questions such
as "Do you have anything like macaques [ling] or gibbons [thany], but greyish in colour and
with long tails?" If informants indicated 'yes', follow-up questioning was done on the local
names used and details of appearance. If they answered 'no' (and sometimes to start), we
asked if they knew a species called "khang".
Khmu informants said the Khmu name for what is apparently the local grey leaf monkey is
"xang" (transcribed in English the same as the Lao word for 'elephant', but pronounced with a
different tone).
J.F Reumaux reports that a troop of 30 leaf monkeys is regularly seen near the Gibbon
Experience's Treehouse 1 (see map in appendix 2).
It seems clear that a species of colobine (most likely Phayre's Leaf Monkey Semnopithecus
phayrei) occurs widely but patchily in the NPA, and may be locally common in some areas.
16
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
mongoose: On the afternoon of 22 Februray, a mongoose that was most likely Small Asian
(a.k.a., Javan) Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) was seen from the vehicle, loping across a
dry rice paddy in an area of scrub at N20o35'49" x 100o31'19" (WGS 84). Duckworth et al. (in
press) traced surprisingly few recent Lao records of this species, reflecting a lack of survey
effort in its predominant habitats, of which none came from significantly north of Vientiane.
They were unable to speculate whether this was an artefact of recording patterns, a recent
extinction from the northern highlands, or an absence from that region for non-anthropogenic
reasons. The animal was seen only briefly, from behind, but the observer (Robichaud), who is
familiar with Crab-eating Mongoose (Herpestes urva), believed the animal was unlikely to be
H. urva due to: uniform dark brown pelage (vs. greyish-toned brown more typical of H. urva in
Laos).
Tiger (Panthera tigris): The frequency with which villagers reported recent knowledge of local
Tigers and/or large cats is both surprising and encouraging. Interview information was
solicited by use of the Lao name 'seua khong' and examination of field guide illustrations of
Tiger, including in comparison to illustrations of Leopard and Clouded Leopard. The initial
impression (which absolutely requires verification) is that Nam Kan could be an important area
in Lao PDRfor Tigers, perhaps second only to (or in second tier behind) Nam Et and Phou
Leuy NPAs.
A resident of Ban Namkha-lue was killed by a Tiger (or possibly a Leopard) in July or August
of 2005 or 2006. See Appendix 6 for details. Interview informants reported that tracks of
large cats are seen regularly near the village (sometimes within 1 km), especially in the rainy
season (when tracks are easier to see, according to the informants). Prior to about five years
ago, before residents started fencing their livestock close to the village, the village lost 10-20
head of cattle and buffaloes per year to large cat predation. The identity of these large cats,
however, is unknown, as the informants said that they never see them. One informant, the
village headman, indicated (by cupping his hand) the size of tracks they see, and the size is
more consistent with Leopard than with Tiger. Dhole Cuon alpinus is also a potential livestock
predator with tracks this size). In Ban Chomsy, however, the informants distinguished between
Tiger, Leopard and Clouded Leopard (Pardofelis nebulosaI), and said all occur locally. J.-F.
Reumaux reported that large cats are sometimes heard from The Gibbon Experience area.
Although Tigers probably remain in Nam Kan NPA, the population is unlikely to be secure,
given the decline and/or disappearance of Tigers in much of the rest of Laos, especially in the
past 15 years. The reported significant increase, since the building of the R3 road to China,
in the availability of ammunition and the introduction of steel jaw traps could quickly tip the
balance against survival of Tigers in the area. Tigers were regularly reported and occasionally
seen in Nakai-Nam Theun NPA in the late 1990s, but ten years later seemed to have nearly
vanished, even in the absence of a fundamental, new driver of hunting, akin to the
international R3 road. Staff of WCS believe that their Tiger conservation project in Nam
Et/Phou Leuy, which started in the early 2000s, may have caught the last Tigers there just in
time, at the 11th hour before they were extirpated (A. Johnson, verbally). It is possible that
Tigers of Nam Kan (at least those beyond the area of influence of The Gibbon Experience)
are at their 11th hour, as well. At the least, until more information is available, this should be
the assumption, given that Tigers absolutely merit a precautionary approach, similarly to the
gibbons in the ca. 2/3 of the NPA without any patrolling.
smaller cats:
A set of small cat tracks, measuring 5 cm W x 4.5 cm L, was seen near the Nam Touey
mineral lick, and another, similar set (5 cm W) was seen along the bank of the Nam Touey.
Three wild kittens were seen in the possession of a family along the road in Houayxay District,
and which they said they obtained from Ban Chomsy. The eyes of two were still closed, and
those of the third barely open (Photo 3). Curiously, the owners called them ngin, the word
generally used for civets in Lao, and one term they used was ngin meo, approximately, 'cat
17
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
civet'. The animals were clearly not civets, but whether their owners didn't realize this, or
were applying the moniker ngin to animals they understood to be felines is not clear. Lao
counterpart staff joined the discussion and indicated that ngin meo was a moniker for Large or
Small Indian Civets (Viverra/Viverricula), but these animals were obviously neither.
Photo 3: One of three wild kittens found in captivity
Dhole (Cuon alpinus): Villagers gave similarly encouraging reports of the presence and status
of Dholes (a.k.a., Asiatic Wild Dogs). Every village questioned about Dholes said they are still
present locally, and some indicated they are common and a significant, current threat to
village livestock. This in contrast to, for example, Nakai-Nam Theun NPA, where of four
villages questioned about Dholes in 2007, in three informants said they had seen no Dholes
for periods ranging from four to tweny years, and in the fourth an informant reported a sighting
one or two years previously. By comparison, all informants in Nakai-Nam Theun NPA said
they have had no livestock losses to Dholes in recent years (Robichaud 2007).
Near Ban Sod, an old carnivore scat almost 3 cm. dia was said by the guide to be from Dhole
("ma nai").
bears: Residents of all villages questioned said that two species bears occur locally.
otters: Otters (two species commonly reported) are still present in probably several areas of
the NPA, although in apparently reduced numbers. In addition to village reports, spraints
were seen on the Nam Kan and Nam Touey, but at low frequency. While villagers freely
quoted the current trade prices for species such as pangolins and Big-headed Turtles
Platysternon megacephalum, all who were asked claimed no knowledge of a demand or price
for otters or their skins. This is in contrast with areas of central Lao PDRnear the Vietnam
border, where prices of up to $200 for a single skin have been reported.
Sambar (Cervus unicolor): On the few excursions into forest around the villages, Sambar
tracks were seen with a frequency that significantly exceeded their encounter rate in NakaiNam Theun NPA (see notes below), and what was probably a Sambar was seen at mid-day
at a mineral lick near the Nam Touey (where tracks of Sambar were abundant). Only one set
of Sambar antlers was seen in any of the villages, but this does not indicate minimal hunting
18
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
pressure; probably because villagers have sold them off. Indeed, Sambar antlers are a
common sight in the town of Houayxay.
Sambar tracks were seen at:
• the Nam Kan mineral lick at N20o28'58" x E100o52'15" (WGS 84); at least one set;
• along the Nam Kan, on the way to the mineral lick; one set;
• along the Nam Touey (a.k.a., Nam Kha) on 24 February; 2-3 sets, despite spending most
of the time paddling in the boat in the middle of the river;
• the one (of two) Nam Touey mineral lick visited, at N20o42'43" x E100o35'34" (WGS 84);
many sets;
• a small forest tributary to the west of the Nam Touey (Nam Kha), with its mouth within
100m of our camp at N20o44'52" x E100o35'21" (WGS 84); at least three sets found along
the stream bank during a very slow 1 hour walk, despite there being little substrate for
holding clear tracks; it is not possible to say if these were from the same or different
Sambar, but nonetheless the encounter rate is high.
Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus): Elephants are clearly absent from the area (at least the
areas known to villagers questioned). Ban Chomsy residents reported that elephants have
been absent since 1973. Some were apparently present up until 1998 in the northern, Mung
District part of the survey area, near Ban Namkha-lue.
wild cattle: Wild cattle (probably Gaur) might still survive in Nam Kan NPA in reduced
numbers. While most villages questioned reported that they have not seen them for a long
time, two villages at opposite ends of the NPA (Mokhouk and Namkha-lue) reported that they
still occur locally.
6.2
General impressions
Nam Kan NPA is an interesting area, especially in comparison with Nakai-Nam Theun NPA,
with which the lead author is very familiar (the comments that follow pertain to the areas
outside of the anomalous area of The Gibbon Experience operation - areas which were the
main focus of the trip). In ten days travelling around the area (although only about two days
spent in the forest), the only mammals seen were one mongoose, one probable Sambar and
a small group of fleeing primates, probably macaques. Not a single squirrel was seen, and
only two heard - one of them a Tamiops (although others accompanying the group reported
seeing what was probably Pallas's Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus, and bits of Pallas's
Squirrel tail were twice found along trails or camps). Large hornbills are gone (or nearly so)
and leaf monkeys and gibbons reduced (and possibly absent from some areas). Yet Tigers
and Gaur probably persist, and Sambar seem reasonably abundant (reported so by some
villagers, and tracks were seen frequently - at least in comparison to Nakai-Nam Theun NPA),
as do Dholes. This is virtually the opposite of the situation in Nakai-Nam Theun, where
arboreal animals - e.g., Doucs, gibbons, large hornbills - are seen fairly regularly (and
squirrels can be seen virtually on the edges of some villages), but large ground dwelling
animals such as Sambar and Tigers are uncommon.
Snaring is intense in Nakai-Nam Theun NPA, but gun hunting probably less so. It is
interesting to speculate that perhaps in Nam Kan NPA the relative intensities of each are the
reverse, resulting in a skew toward ground-dwelling animals there and arboreal species in
Nakai-Nam Theun NPA. A few points of evidence suggest this could be so:
• In one (of two) houses visited in Ban Chomsy, four guns were plainly visible (two AK-47s
and two handmade muzzleloaders). In Ban Sod, we encountered a man returning to the
village with a muzzleloader, and he had no qualms about being photographed with it, and
seemed to have no fear of its confiscation (Photo 4). This type of gun is now seldom seen
in Nakai-Nam Theun NPA (they are probably still used, but villagers are careful to hide
them).
19
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Photo 4: Villager returning to Ban Sod with muzzleloader
• Snaring in Nakai-Nam Theun has been driven largely by neighbouring Vietnam, where
many Vietnamese poachers cross the border into Nakai-Nam Theun to set snares, and
Nakai-Nam Theun's residents report that it was Vietnamese wildlife traders who first
supplied them with and taught them how to use wire snares. Bokeo Province has probably
been insulated from this phenomenon by its considerable distance from Vietnam.
• The Deputy Head of Bokeo PAFO, Mr. Khamsone, reported that one of the main problems
of the new road through the area connecting China with Thailand is the illegal importation
of gun ammunition, for sale to villagers. Steel leg-hold traps are also imported via the
road, but these are much less transportable than snares and can be set in far fewer
numbers in the forest.
While this is a tidy explanation for the faunal differences observed between Nam Kan and
Nakai-Nam Theun, some inconsistencies at least mean it requires closer examination:
• Black Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor), a prime arboreal quarry species, is still reported as
fairly common in Nam Kan.
• Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea) may still be present (see Appendix 4), even though
it can be one of the first species cleaned out by gun hunting and was thought possibly
extirpated, or nearly so, from northern Lao PDR(Duckworth et al. 1999).
• Sambar, at least, are also vulnerable to gun hunting - possibly more so than by snaring.
• A trail marker seen near Ban Sod was said by the village guide to indicate the direction to
a nearby snareline, set to protect a swidden field (presumably from wild pigs and
macaques).
• Other types of ground capture/kill methods are used in Nam Kan, which are apparently
absent from Nakai-Nam Theun NPA - such as spear traps for large game (particularly pigs,
according to residents). But again, these are undoubtedly set in far lower densities than
wire snares.
6.3
Notes on trade and other threats to wildlife
The consistent and narrow range of prices quoted across most villages for pangolins and Bigheaded Turtles (see Appendix 4) suggests an active, frequent trade in these species. The
20
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
team did not ask about wildlife trade in depth, given the sensitivity of the topic (it being illegal)
and the short time spent in each village.
On two morning visits to the main market in Houayxay town, some trade in wildlife was
observed, and is summarized in Table 1. When our vehicle driver pointed out to the vendor
with the Big-headed Turtle (IUCN Red List 'Endangered') that wildlife trade is banned, she
responded (erroneously), "Only for big animals like muntjacs, not for small animals like
turtles."
In addition, on 17 February, Vaysni (a community development advisor for the Flemish NGO
VECO, based in Houayxay) showed us two live Emerald Doves (Chalcophaps indica) which
she said were among 18 live ones for sale that morning in the market (she bought them only
to show us, for identification, and released them the next day; 25,000 kip each).
Four captive Hill Mynas (Gracula religiosa), being taught to mimic Lao, were seen at a
restaurant near the Mekong.
Table 1: Wildlife trade observed in Houayxay Market
US$1 = 8,470 kip or 33 baht
Taxon
18 February, 07:30
Big-headed Turtle
Red Junglefowl
26 February, 06:40
1 live; 500 baht (vendor
estimated weight at 800g,
but probably an overexaggeration)
1 live, 1 dead, 2 cooked
1 dead, and 4 cooked
pheasant
1 cooked
green(?) pigeon Treron
3 cooked; 20,000 kip each
cooked rats/squirrels
a few
fruit bats
+/- 20 dead; 20,000
kip/pair
Common Palm Civet
1 dead
u. civets
2 cooked
dried 'muntjac meat' (fide
vendor)
4 small bundles
dried 'Sambar meat' (fide
vendor)
2 small bundles
While walking and driving around the town of Houayxay, opportunistically peering into shops
and houses, the horns of wild cattle (all or most looked to be Gaur Bos gaurus) and antlers of
Sambar (Cervus unicolor) hanging on walls were frequently seen - probably more than ten
sets of wild cattle horns, and more than twice that number of Sambar antler sets.
It is interesting that almost no muntjac antlers were seen in village houses during the survey ,
although muntjacs were widely reported to be present, and muntjac tracks were seen. This is
most curious, in comparison to observations from other parts of Laos. Alternatively, the
particular ethnic groups around Nam Kan may not be prone to saving and displaying muntjac
trophies in their houses.
21
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
In Ban Chomsy, many captive Bar-backed Partridges (Arborophila brunneopectus) in
individual cages were seen (e.g., in the only two houses entered in the Ban Chomsy-Tai
satellite, each had four). In other areas of Laos, such captives are typically used as call
decoys for hunting partridges. A resident of one of the two houses visited displayed a bamboo
whistle used to imitate the call of the partridges.
Green pigeon netting
About three years ago, some male residents of Ban Namkha-lue began netting green pigeons
(Treron) on top of a hill above the Nam Touey, several kilometers from the village. The hill is
located between two mineral licks visited by green pigeons, and birds are reportedly netted as
they fly from one to the other. We visited the camp of the pigeon netters (two men) on 24
February, and the camp and the netting site on the 25th. On the first visit to the camp, nine
live Thick-billed Green Pigeons (Treron curvirostra) and one Pin-tailed Green Pigeon (Treron
apicauda) were kept in bamboo cages (Photo 5), and 17 other pigeons had been killed,
plucked, split and were roasting on a fire. On the second visit the next day, about three
Thick-billed Green Pigeons were held in bamboo cages at the netting site, which consisted of
four banks of clear monofilament, large-mesh bird nets strung between bamboo poles on a
small clear hilltop (Photo 6).
Photo 5: Caged Thick-billed Green Pigeons
The operators said that about three years ago, ethnic Akha came to this area to set fish traps
in the river, recognized the potential of the site for netting pigeons, and explained it to
residents of Ban Namkha-lue, who then established the operation. The operators we spoke
with (two older men) provided the following information:
• the pigeons are sold in the village for 5,000 kip (US$0.60) each (some live, but most
apparently cooked); few or none are sold as pets, since green pigeons are difficult to keep
("at best they'll live for a month"); a few roasted green pigeons were seen for sale in the
Houayxay market, but it is not known if they came from Ban Namkha-lue.
• the netting is done all year except the three months of Buddhist Lent (rainy season),
because few pigeons visit the mineral licks then;
• twenty pigeons are netted on good days, four or five on slow days;
22
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
• roughly estimated annual catch is 1,000 pigeons [although it clearly might be far more: if
they netted daily for seven months (not nine) and caught an average of ten per day, that
would be more than 2,000 per year; but it should also be noted that the demands of
agricultural and other work may mean that the netting is not a daily activity];
• capture totals have been declining since they started; they believe it is more likely because
the catch has reduced the local pigeon population than because pigeons have learned to
avoid the nets.
Photo 6: Nets for trapping pigeons and a trapper preparing cages from bamboo.
7 Notes on village interviews
It is worthwhile to note that the conflicting information from Ban Namkha-lue about the local
status of gibbons illustrates the care that must be taken in drawing conclusions from relatively
brief village interviews, which compared to the time reported to be given by field workers and
consultants in some other such surveys were still relatively extensive. After the initial evening
interview with nine informants in the village, whose expressed consensus was that gibbons
had been locally extirpated for 30 years or more, with most of the informants life-long
residents of the village who reported having never seen or heard a gibbon in their lives, we
would have assessed the likelihood of there being any wild gibbons within two to three
kilometres of the village at nearly 'zero', about as close to nil as can be for any wildlife
interview result, given a) the widespread, consistent name in use for gibbon in Laos, thany; b)
the fact that the Lue language is similar to Lao, and all informants spoke excellent Lao, further
reducing the chances of miscommunication; c) the low likelihood, due to the distinctiveness of
the species' appearance and call, of confusing it with another animal; and, d) the relatively
high likelihood of detecting gibbons if present, due to their far-carrying vocalisations, large size
and diurnal habits. In contrast, had we talked only to Mr. Toon, we would have concluded
that local presence of gibbons was highly probable, and in fact that the species must be doing
well in the area, given that it could be heard from a rice paddy in production forest only two
kilometres from this large village.
23
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
This incident (but for which all who have done village interviews for any length of time can
probably supply numerous parallel examples) underscores an over-arching caveat when
conducting village interviews: The importance of taking sufficient time. If done too quickly
and "in passing", village interviews risk becoming Vapid Biodiversity Appraisals, of doubtful
and unknown reliability, and therefore low utility, since what is correct in them cannot be
threshed out from what is not. For this survey, one night's stay for interviews was allotted per
village (although more time was sometimes gained, by remaining for two nights and splitting
the team in two, with some members remaining in the village to continue interviews while
others explored the nearby forest). Even though this is a slower pace than often employed for
village biodiversity interviews by projects in Lao PDR (and the region), it was probably too
ambitious to gather solidly reliable information on even large and well-known species.
Sufficient time for interviewing is needed to accomplish three important things:
1. Build a degree of trust with the villages, and give them time to understand and
absorb the aims of the survey (based on experience elsewhere in Laos, there is
commonly a direct correlation between the veracity of village information collected
and time spent in the village, and this relationship may take weeks to plateau).
2. Interview multiple informants independently. Independent interviews can be
accomplished formally (gathering together different groups of people for formal
interviews at different times or places), or informally, by simply talking to villagers as
one chances upon them in the fields, at the local stream, in field camps, etc. Both
take time. The importance of multiple independent interviews can be obscured by
outsiders' (and especially foreigners) understandable assumption that any significant
knowledge held in a small village, where residents associate almost only with each
other, and on a constant, daily basis, must surely be held in common by all.
However, this simply seems not to be the case. In fact, pieces of knowledge that
may be significant to outsiders may not be known by all or even most residents of an
isolated, small village, and might be learned only by talking with a substantial
number of residents.
3. Summarize and reflect on the information gathered in the main interview, which
invariably reveals follow-up questions for clarification and verification.
In Ban Namkha-lue, because sufficient time was, initially, not available for these steps (the
team arrived in the village early in the day, but the village chief and many of the village men
were engaged elsewhere repairing a bridge, and did not return until after dark), the team
spent 1½ days boating to and from an area that may have been away from the only site of
likely gibbon presence near the village (probably less than 1 hour walk away). The field trip
was nonetheless valuable, as it gave the team a fuller sense of the quality of the NPA and
issues facing it, but it may not have been optimal, given the principle survey objective of
learning about gibbons in the area.
At a thumbnail estimate, two nights per village should be considered a minimum for most
efforts to collect village information about threatened wildlife (i.e., species which are probably
not 'neutral' to villages, and whose conservation would likely incur, or could be feared to incur,
an opportunity cost to villagers). In particular, a second day allows an opportunity for followup clarifications.
Given that accuracy of village information is far more important than volume, as a general
guideline (with flexibility for the particular foci and objectives of a survey), if a survey has, for
example only two days available for interviews, the time might be better spent in one village,
rather than yielding to the temptation of reaching two villages briefly.
We also urge, as standard practice, that village interviews be video recorded (or at least audio
recorded), something for which convenient, cheap technology is increasingly available. Even
interviews which follow menus of set questions invariably become free-ranging, sometimes
24
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
with multiple people answering (and asking) questions simultaneously. This is especially true
of interviews about qualitative subjects such as the status of local wildlife (vs. lists of
quantitative inquiries such as number of children, number of buffaloes, etc.). It is generally
difficult for an interviewer to write down one answer simultaneously while listening attentively
to the next answer, and information can be missed or misunderstood. Written records of
village interviews are necessarily imperfect, shorthand summaries, and it is good practice to
have a full record.
An example of the value of this came also from Ban Namkha-lue, on the subject of Tigers
(Panthera tigris; see next section). After the interview, and upon summarizing written notes of
the interview, the team felt quite confident that Tigers occur regularly close to the village.
However, a review two weeks later of the video record of the interview, during preparation of
this report, showed the information to be more equivocal. In particular, there is a moment that
was missed or not recorded in writing during the interview, when the main informant (the
village chief) cups his hand to demonstrate the size of the large cat tracks regularly seen near
the village, and makes a shape that is clearly more consistent in size with track of Leopard
(Panthera pardus) than of Tiger. While the informants say they know what a Tiger is
(identifying it from a field guide illustration), they also say that they never see the large cats
that roam the area around the village - only their tracks. While it is still quite plausible that
Tigers occur in the area, it is difficult to conclude this conclusively from the interview including the identity of the large cat which killed and partially consumed a resident several
years ago (although Tiger seems likely, see Appendix 6).
8 Economic and cultural issues related to biodiversity conservation in the
areas visited
8.1
The new road through Bokeo connecting China and Thailand
The most immediately apparent and worrisome trend for the conservation of Nam Kan NPA
and its gibbons is the flurry of road building underway in the area. At the heart of this is the
new R3 road connecting Thailand and China through Laos. Feeding into R3 are several new
roads built to foster rural development around Nam Kan NPA, some of them funded by aid
agencies, such as VECO (Belgium), with the express purpose of connecting villages to
markets (S. Ling, verbally). In Lao PDR, the consequence of connecting remote villages by
roads to the district centre and to China is inevitable and undeniable: significantly increased
wildlife trade and commercial exploitation of non-timber forest products. This is particularly
true in Bokeo, where the R3 road (supported by the Asian Development Bank) and new local
roads seem to have been constructed with little or no thought to mitigating their promotion of
wildlife trade, despite the warnings of Nooren and Claridge (2001) and others that wildlife
trade is one of the principal threats to the country's biodiversity.
Staff of Bokeo PAFO described several types of contraband being smuggled into the area in
container trucks from China along the new R3 road, for resale to residents in the province:
•
•
•
•
gun ammunition for hunting
large steel leg-hold traps for wildlife
chainsaws
equipment for electrocuting fish in streams and rivers
This is of considerable concern. The increase in gun ammunition and introduction of steel
traps could quickly tip what is probably a tenuous, temporary balance for some globally
threatened species in Nam Kan NPA, such as Tigers. At least three measures are needed to
mitigate impacts of the R3 road while there is still time:
25
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
1. Substantial involvement of the Asian Development Bank (the road's principal proponent)
in controlling the smuggling into Lao PDRof equipment used for wildlife poaching, and the
export of contraband wild animals and wildlife parts.
2. Immediate, significant increases in patrolling effort in the NPA (perhaps the ADB would be
an appropriate donor for this, as environmental mitigation for the road).
3. Further surveys to clarify the status and distribution in the NPA of hunted species such as
gibbons and Tigers, and the principal direct and indirect threats to them.
8.2
Village issues
During the course of this brief survey, the group interacted with six different ethnic groups:
Mong, Black Lahu, Khmu, Lamet, Lue and Lao. The authors had no prior experience with
most of them. Given this and the relatively short visits to the villages, this section is
necessarily brief. However, the following observations, which may influence efforts to support
management of Nam Kan NPA, were noted:
Ban Toup (Mong): This is the focal village for The Gibbon Experience, which employs about
70 people. The Gibbon Experience therefore plays a very important role in the local economy.
According to GoL counterparts and J.-F. Reumaux, there are two competing factions in the
village, of the same clan, but led by separate charismatic leaders. One faction, long-time
residents of the village, are the main cooperators with The Gibbon Experienceand supply most
of the staff. The other group, relative newcomers, are at some odds with the other faction and
The Gibbon Experience. This has apparently caused some problems, such as the latter group
clearing forest for swiddens, out of spite, in The Gibbon Experience concessions.
Ban Sod (Lamet): Residents of the village voiced (quietly) a complaint that they are forbidden
by Animo to cultivate north of the Nam Kan river, yet they receive no support or compensation
from the company or The Gibbon Experience venture. Whether these areas constitute
traditional lands of the village, or new areas they would like to expand into, is not clear. Nor
is it clear if the prohibition comes expressly from Animo, or from the province or district in
protection of Animo's concessions.
Ban Chomsy (Black Lahu): The Lahu are well known in Southeast Asian for their talent and
propensity for hunting. Ban Chomsy was the only village where large numbers of wild animals
or their parts were seen (specifically, captive Bar-backed Partridges and captive parakeets).
Three wild felines seen with a family elsewhere (see above) were said to have come from Ban
Chomsy. It is reasonable to conclude, then, that the village is involved in the wildlife trade.
J.-F. Reumaux has repeatedly made overtures to the village to involve them in The Gibbon
Experience venture, but the village has not yet responded to these approaches. Given the
village's position with access to core forests of the NPA, and the residents' keenness and
talent for hunting, engagement with Ban Chomsy is probably key for any NPA management
project.
Ban Namkha-lue (Lue): Gibbons may live closer to Ban Namkha-lue than any village visited
(with possible exception of Ban Toup). But their status there is unclear - residents variously
reported gibbons as being heard annually just two kilometres away, and as having been
extirpated from the area at least 30 years ago. Clarification of this is a high priority for any
gibbon conservation project in the area.
Additionally, Ban Namkha-lue has easy boat access into the northern NPA (including to at
least two mineral licks), new road access to Houayxay, and residents have an acknowledged
propensity for hunting (including of large animals, such as Gaur). Taken together this means
that the village should probably be a priority for focus by any Nam Kan NPA management
project.
26
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
9 Conclusions and recommendations
9.1
Conservation opportunities identified by the mission
ƒ
Nam Kan NPA appears to be the most important, if not the only, location in Lao PDR with
a viable population of N. concolor, making it an area of high national priority for
conservation of gibbons and global significance for conservation of the species.
ƒ
Plausible reports of Tigers from most village interviews and records of prey species,
especially Sambar, indicate that the area may also have high national importance for Tiger
conservation.
ƒ
Animo / The Gibbon Experience may have provided a crucial role in protecting the gibbons
near Ban Toup and ensuring the viability of the gibbon population in Nam Kan NPA,
especially through community-based forest patrols. The model for financing direct
conservation through tourism revenues, and the long-term vision and concession rights of
Animo are good opportunities for conservation of N. concolor at this site.
ƒ
Establishment of Nam Kan NPA in 2008 strengthens protection of the forest by providing a
formal institutional framework with national recognition, and increased central-level interest
in its management.
ƒ
The Lao PDR Department of Forestry has identified Nam Kan NPA as a priority for
managment support, and the Head of the NPA is also keen to implement improved
management of the area.
9.2
Challenges
ƒ
The distribution and population size of N. concolor at Nam Kan NPA are still not yet clearly
understood.
ƒ
The status of Tigers and other biodiversity of conservation concern is also not well known.
ƒ
Nam Kan NPA stretches across two provinces (which leads to blurred lines of authority,
and difficulty in planning and implementing unified management), and the location in the
NPA of the boundary between the two provinces (Bokeo and Luang Namtha) is not clear.
ƒ
Hunting appears to be the most important issue directly affecting recovery of N. concolor
by both local villagers and pressures from outside. Nam Kan NPA is easily accessible to
markets in China via transportation along the Mekong River and the R3 road which runs
through the protected area. According to Bokeo PAFO, the new R3 road is also a conduit
for the importation of illegal animal traps and gun ammunition, for sale to local villagers.
ƒ
Protected area boundaries and zoning within the protected area remain unclear.
ƒ
Swidden agriculture is a common practice among local communities and has degraded
large swathes of forest around villages. There was sometimes disagreement between
protected area staff and villagers as to where the village boundaries lay within the
protected area. Clarity on land use for swidden agriculture around villages could enable
corridors to be managed for biodiversity within the protected area, while establishing
improved understanding between protected area staff and local communities.
ƒ
Nam Kan NPA has very limited resources, especially in terms of personnel to manage the
protected area. This constrains the sustainability of support projects.
27
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
9.3
Recommended conservation actions
Gibbons
1. Gibbon surveys with an objective to: clarify distribution of N. concolor in Nam Kan NPA (in
particular to prioritise forest areas for more direct protection); and provide, as resources
allow, baseline data to assess population status and, through future surveys, trends.
2. Analysis of forest cover to assess: extent of potential habitat for gibbons; potential
connectivity (or lack of) between gibbon subpopulations in the NPA; and priorities for
surveys.
3. Research and assessment of the relative importance of existing and emerging threats to
gibbons (e.g., is it hunting for subsistence, or hunting for trade; hunting by particular
villagers, ethnic groups or outsiders; forest loss to swidden, or to logging, etc.). In sum,
what conservation issues are highest priority for a project to ultimately address?
4. Inform local communities about the national and global significance of the local gibbon
population to raise their pride, with the goal of reducing local hunting of gibbons.
5. Expand patrolling to protect gibbons from hunters.
6. Strengthen monitoring and data collection of known gibbon groups, especially the core
population around The Gibbon Experience tree houses, by developing a monitoring
programme and and providing training to NPA and The Gibbon Experience staff on gibbon
surveying and monitoring techniques, as well as a basic understanding of gibbon ecology.
7. Ecological research on Western Black Crested Gibbons in Nam Kan NPA, to contribute to
more effective long-term conservation planning.
Tigers
8. Investigate and, if possible, confirm the presence of Tigers in Nam Kan NPA, and make an
initial assessment of population size and the significance of the Nam Kan population.
Protected area management
9. Clear zoning within the protected area, especially around villages, based upon
identification of biodiversity hotspots and needs of local communities (with their
participation). This should also lead to a stable area for swidden agriculture for each
village, in accordance with the government programme to stop further expansion of
swidden by 2010.
10. Capacity building for protected area staff on participatory village land-use planning.
11. Investigating mechanisms to significantly expand patrolling capacity in the NPA in
collaboration with Animo / The Gibbon Experience.
12. Learning from patrol monitoring methods in place.
Mitigation of the impacts of the R3 road
13. Open discussion with regional offices of the Asian Development Bank (the road's principal
proponent), to inform them of the road's likely serious threat to Nam Kan NPA, and to
solicit their support for mitigation (e.g., improved customs checks, to decrease both the
import into Lao PDR of tools for hunting, and the export of wildlife and their parts).
28
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
10 References
Brown, J. 2009. Status of the Western Black Crested Gibbon (Nomascus concolor) in the Nam
Ha National Protected Area, Lao PDR. Gibbon Journal 5: 28–35.
Duckworth, J.W., R.E. Salter & K. Khounboline. 1999. Wildlife in Lao PDR: 1999 Status
Report. IUCN-The World Conservation Union/Wildlife Conservation Society/Centre for
Protected Areas and Watershed Management. Vientiane.
Duckworth, J.W., 2008, Preliminary gibbon status review for Lao PDR 2008, Fauna & Flora
International, Unpublished report.
Duckworth, J. W., Timmins, R. J. & Tizard, T. in press. Conservation status of Small Asian
Mongoose Herpestes javanicus (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1818) (Mammalia: Carnivora:
Herpestidae) in Lao PDR. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.
Fuchs, J., Cibois, A., Duckworth, J. W., Eve, R., Robichaud, W. G., Tizard, T. & Van
Gansberghe, D. 2007. Birds of Phongsaly province and the Nam Ou river, Laos. Forktail 23:
22–86.
IUCN, 2009, IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
Downloaded on 02 March 2010.
Geissmann, T. 2007a, Status reassessment of the gibbons: Results of the Asian Primate Red
List Workshop 2006 in Gibbon Journal Nr. 3. pp. 5-15.
Geissmann, T. 2007b, First field data on the Laotian black crested gibbon (Nomascus
concolor lu) of the Nam Kan area of Laos in Gibbon Journal Nr. 3. pp. 5-15.
Le Trong Dat and Huu Van Oanh, 2006, Full census of Vietnam’s largest known population of
Western Black Crested Gibbon Nomascus concolor: Mu Cang Chai Species/Habitat
Conservation Area (Yen Bai Province) and adjacent forests in Muong La District (Son La
Province), Fauna & Flora International Vietnam Programme.
Le Trong Dat and Luong Van Hao, 2008, 2008 census of Vietnam’s largest known population
of Western Black Crested Gibbon Nomascus concolor: Mu Cang Chai Species/Habitat
Conservation Area (Yen Bai Province) and adjacent forests in Muong La District (Son La
Province), Fauna & Flora International Vietnam Programme.
Le Trong Dat, 2009, Survey of the Western Black Crested Gibbon (Nomascus concolor) in
Hoang Lien-Van Ban Nature Reserve, Van Ban District, Lao Cai Province, Fauna & Flora
International Vietnam Programme.
Jiang Xuelong, 2008, Research on Concolor Gibbon Conservation, Presentation at Western
Black Crested Gibbon Conservation Status and Strategy Workshop organised by Fauna &
Flora International at Kunming Institute of Zoology, 13 to 15 October 2008.
Vongkhamheng C. and A. Johnson (compilers), 2009. Background notes for the Lao PDR
National Tiger Action Plan: Status of tigers and their conservation in Lao PDR; Version 1.0: 30
October 2009. Wildlife Conservation Society-Lao PDR for the Division of Forest Resources
Conservation, Department of Forestry, Lao PDR. Vientiane.
29
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Appendix 1. Detailed itinerary
Date
16 Feb
17 Feb
18 Feb
19 Feb
20 Feb
21 Feb
22 Feb
23 Feb
24 Feb
25Feb
26 Feb
27 Feb
Activity
Arrival in Bokeo
PM Introductory meeting with PAFO and NPA staff
AM
Meeting with Khamxone Keopaseuth, Deputy Director of PAFO
Planning discussions with PAFO and NPA staff
PM
Meeting with Kampaeng Xaynhasack, Director of NPA
Meeting with Jean-Francois Reumaux, Animo / Gibbon Experience
Meeting with Stuart Ling, Director of VECO Rural Development Project
Visit to Ban Toup and tree house 1 of the Gibbon Experience
Overnight in Ban Mokhouk
1 hour walk to Ban Satoon
Village interview in Ban Satoon
Village interview in Ban Sod
Overnight in Ban Sod
Visit to forest near Ban Sod and along Nam Kan river to mineral river (Paul and
William)
Informal village interviews (Sysay and Chainoy)
Village interview and overnight in Ban Chomsy-Tai) (William, Paul and Sysay)
Overnight in Ban Chomsy North (Chainoy)
Two hour visit to forest near Ban Chomsy
Overnight in Mung District Town
Interview and overnight in Namkha-lue
Trip along Nam Kha and Nam Touey River overnight by river (William and Paul)
Follow-up interviews in Namkha-lue and overnight in Namkha-lue (Chainoy and Sysay)
Return to Namkha-lue
Final village discussion in Namkha-lue
Return to and overnight in Houayxay Town
Am
Debriefing and discussion on potential collaboration with Jean-Francois Reumaux
Animo / Gibbon Experience
PM
Debreifing with Khamxone Keopaseuth, Deputy Director of PAFO
Discussion on needs of the protected area with Kampaeng Xaynhasack, Director of
Nam Kan NPA
Return to Vientiane
30
Appendix 2. Map of Nam Kan National Protected Area showing areas visited
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Appendix 3. Map of Nam Kan National Protected Area
LUANG NAMTHA
PROVINCE
BOKEO PROVINCE
Provincial boundary
District boundary
Protected area
Map provided by Bokeo PAFO
32
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Appendix 4. Results of village interviews for wildlife other than gibbons
The following table summarizes the wildlife information gathered during the main interviews conducted by the team together.
follow-up information gathered by Chainoy is shown in italics.
Additional,
"Francis" refers to A Guide to the Mammals of Southeast Asia (2008) by Charles M. Francis
"Parr" refers to A Guide to the Large Mammals of Thailand (2003) by John W.K. Parr
"Robson" refers to The New Holland Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia (2005) by Craig Robson
B. Toup
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
B. Sod
B. Chomsy1
B. Namkha-lue
Interview date(s)
(all 2010)
Location (WGS 84
datum)
Ethnicity
18 Feb
18 & 19 Feb
19 Feb
19 & 20 Feb
23 Feb
N20o28'21" x
E100o 48'03"
White Mong all; 53
houses
N20o27'06" x
E100o56'09"
Khmu: 57 houses
Lamet: 12 houses
N20odeg 27'36" x
E100o56'09"
Lamet: 45 houses
Khmu: 22 houses
N20o29'29" x
E100o55'41"
Lamet all; 50
houses
21 Feb (and
Chainoy 22 Feb )
N20o28’17” x
Village origin
Since 1998
Settled in 1986
from old village in
Luang Namtha
Province, a full
days' walk distant
Moved here 10
years ago from old
Ban Satoon,
roughly to the east
12 hours walk
away; were at old
vill >100 yrs;
moved at behest of
govt.
Here for 15 years;
moved from a hill
<200 m away,
where village was
for >100 years
1
o=
N20o39’29” x
E100 38’26.5"
E100o=32’16"
Black Lahu (a.k.a.,
"museu dam") all;
112 families, 62
houses
Lue: 61 houses
Thai Deng: 2 houses
Thai Dam: 2 houses
Lao (from Luang
Phrabang): 4 houses
Settled in 1858 by five
Lue families from
Burma.
Moved here in
1992 at
encouragement of
new govt.; old
village about 3 hrs.
walk away.
Ban Chomsy comprises three satellite villages. The location given in the table is for the main one, Ban Chomsy-Gnai ('Large Chomsy'), where Chainoy
conducted interviews. The rest of the team conducted interviews, and made a forest walk from, Ban Chomsy-Tai ('Southern Chomsy'), about 30 minutes
walk away.
33
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Other village info.
Informants
B. Toup
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
Staging & jumpingoff point for Gibbon
Experience tourists
2 middle-aged men
(random selection)
Some rainfed
paddy
No paddy, only
swidden fields
Village chief Mr.
Viengthong
(Khmu), and about
6 middle-aged
men, all Khmu
Village chief Mr.
Kham-one (Lamet)
and about 5 other
middle-aged men
B. Sod
B. Chomsy1
B. Namkha-lue
Buddhist
Village chief Mr.
Sen-ahvone, age
48; Mr Ai-yone,
age 70; Mr.
Sisomphou, age
70
Mr. Cha-paw, 55
yrs old, born in
village; Mr. Chakheu, 47 y. old;
Chainoy with
village chief Mr.
Cha-ta; Mr. Chasia; Mr. Cha-meu;
Mr. Chou-moua;
Mrs. Va (Lao
Women's Union
All Lue, born in the
village:
Mr. Maikhamen,
village chief, 40
Mr. Khamnouan,
deputy chief, 32;
Mr. Chom, 30;
Mr. Du, 35;
Mr. Oo, 25;
Mr. Maiphet, 32;
Mrs. Phone, 36
Mr. Kengoune, 35
Mr. Chanthaly, 63;
Lao, moved to village
about 15 years ago:
Mr. Wansai; 48
Quality of
interview
pythons ("ngou
leum")
"tao phalou"
(probably Bigheaded Turtle
Platysternon
megacephalum
In passing, quick
and opportunistic
for about 15
minutes
Unplanned,
opportunistic in
evening;
informants not
selected; no
mapping
40,000 kip/kg
dead; bought by
Chinese in the
market
1000-1500 baht/kg;
bought by Lao
Informants not
selected; but more
time, with some
mapping; about 1
hour in morning
Led by Chainoy;
selection of
informants unclear
yes; also King
Cobra ("ngou
chong-ang")
1200 baht/kg
34
Yes; they don't
know the price, but
hear that it's
100,000 kip/kg (=
ca. 390 baht)
Organized quickly;
quality of
informants
unknown;
language some
barrier
yes, have; also
cobras
Yes; have; sell for
1500 baht/kg;
another, smaller
species traded,
also aquatic but
can pull head in.
Hurried, due to
informants not arriving
in the village until
fairly late in the
evening
many
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
hornbills "nok kok"
B. Toup
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
B. Sod
B. Chomsy1
B. Namkha-lue
no large ones, only
a small "nok kok",
the description of
which fits Pied
Hornbill
no large ones, only
a species which
probably equates
to Pied Hornbill
no large hornbills
here - only at old
village
Last seen decades
ago; now just "nok
keng", which
probably = Pied
Hornbill
Not seen since at
least 1994; not
now, but still had 5
years ago in Nam
Go; maybe some
in Nam Nga
large hornbills gone
for a long time;
mentioned "nok kok
kham", which in other
parts of Lao PDR(e.g.,
central) equates to
Great Hornbill
imperial pigeons
"nok moum";
Mountain only, and
not Green, by
looking at Robson
crows
loris
macaques
none now; had in
1975, but none
since [Chainoy
says because after
revolution, times
hard, people had
to eat anything and
everything, so no
longer discarded or
left dead dogs,
etc.]
yes
1 sp, with short
tail; "ling vok"
which fits Pig-tailed
in Parr, is a
considerable crop
pest
35
By Robson plate
and questioning:
have both
Mountain and
Green IPs, but not
many of either,
compared with
Treron green
pigeons
Not as many as
before; not eaten;
had until about 2
years ago and not
seen since
yes, widespread
2 spp; short and
long-tailed
many
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
B. Sod
B. Chomsy1
B. Namkha-lue
leaf monkeys
Khmu name is
"xang" (by Lao
guys, spelled same
as word for
elephant, but with
different tone - 'mai
ek' instead of 'mai
toh') for a grey,
long-tailed
monkey; yes,
present
No; they know
name "xang", but
none here - only
saw at old village
Yes, grey one with
long tail; by
description and
Parr plate;
Have "khang" near
Nam Nga
still many "khang" in
the NPA
pangolins
$100/kg (= ca.
3300 baht); bought
by Lao
3000-3200 baht/kg
"khang" not seen
since 1982; the
following day,
looking at Parr,
some of the same
informants said
that grey l.m.'s
come down to the
mineral lick near
the Nam Kan,
visited by members
of team
yes, 1 sp; 3000
baht/kg
1 sp; black; no
reddish ones; still
have but reduced
Yes, have.
yes; 3000 baht/kg
Yes, have; every
year kill village
pig(s)
Still many "ma nai",
but only in the NPA,
color of body is
"leuang" (=yellow or
orange), with black
snout and tail.
B. Toup
Black Giant
Squirrel
many; Lamet name
is "in-gaeh"
Binturong
yes; called a type
of "mee" [bear];
ID'd by descripn
and Francis pic
Yes; very
dangerous (to
livestock, not
people); have
killed stock here
and at old village;
in groups of 6-8;
urine is caustic can cause human
skin to slough off;
they urinate in
eyes of, e.g.,
buffalo, blinding
them and making
Dhole ("ma nai")
yes, but no
livestock killed
36
common to N
(NPA) side; seen
eating fruit in
September
Yes, 1 sp., like a
dog; black snout
and tail; still found
N and S of village;
they appear in
rainy season, and
kill village pigs
every year; last
year vill lost 4-5
pigs to Dholes;
Dholes are tasty to
eat.
still in NPA
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
B. Toup
bears
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
B. Sod
easier to kill;
Dholes are good to
eat.
yes; "mee" eats
corn
yes
yes; ID'd by
Francis pic
yes, by Parr pic, in
NPA side
Black Bear
yes; ID'd by
Francis pic
yes, by Parr pic, in
NPA side
Tiger
yes, still here
"seua khong" killed
1 village cow 2
years ago, about 2
km from village
Lg. track they think
"seua khong" seen
last yr about 1 km
from village
See tracks to the
E, near their old vill
site, every year,
every few or
several months;
stock lost at old
village, up to
10/year, but none
at new site - too
many people down
here, Tigers afraid;
ID confirmed by pic
in Francis guide;
37
B. Namkha-lue
Have; near
swidden areas
around Nam Go
("gaw")
Sun Bear
Hog Badger ("mu
leung")
otters
B. Chomsy1
said don't know if
have or not
formerly present,
but not now; 2 spp:
small sp in lg.
groups, and lg sp.
that goes in 1s &
2s.
No tracks seen
recently; animal
last seen about 10
yrs. ago; killed a
cow in 1980
yes, by pic; in both
production and
conservation forest;
called "meuy"
yes, by pic; in both
production and
conservation forest;
called "mee khouay
[buffalo]"
Still some, but
reduced in Nam
Nga because
eaten; 2 spp, dogfooted and duckfooted
Yes, from Parr pic;
last saw track last
year, ~4 km away;
last killed village
livestock 5 yrs ago;
Saw track 5 years
ago near Nam
Nga; big, handsized track
Still many; 2 spp:
larger "nak ma" [dog
otter] and smaller "nak
pet" [duck otter]
• From Parr pic:
Tracks are seen
within 1 km of
village ca. every
year; mainly and
commonly in rainy
season, when
ground shows
tracks better;
• Tiger killed a
village resident in
2005 or 2006; see
Appendix for
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
B. Toup
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
B. Sod
B. Chomsy1
tiger bone 30,000
baht/kg
Leopard
"Seua dao" tracks
seen here also,
smaller track than
"seua khong"; but
only saw animals
at old village caught 1 in a trap
there; ID confirmed
by pic in Francis
yes, by Francis pic
Clouded Leopard
Golden Cat
Marbled Cat
Asian Elephant
B. Namkha-lue
details;
• Until residents
fenced livestock
near village about
5 yrs ago, Tigers
killed 10-20 head
of cattle and
buffalo annually;
• Residents last
killed a Tiger about
20 yrs ago; since
then don't see
them much, and
don't know how to
kill them.
No, not seen
By Lao name
"seua dao" and
Parr pic: present
now, but doesn't
kill livestock;
sometimes hear it
By Parr pic: yes,
present
By Lao name
"seua fai" and Parr
pic: yes, present
yes, in this area,
by Francis pic
yes, by Francis pic
no
never, not even
when the 70 yr
olds were kids.
38
None since at least
1973; none, not for
a long time if ever
In 1998, 15 elephants
were present near rice
paddies, but the
elephants fought each
other, and some died
and the others left;
One of 2 animals
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
B. Toup
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
rhinos
wild pigs
yes, 1 sp
chevrotain
Sambar
yes
yes
muntjacs
yes; 2 spp of
"fan", but 1
equates to
chevrotain ("fan
kai"; very small)
wild cattle
Not near village,
farther away
yes, 2 spp: 1 long
("nyao") and 1
short ("san"); same
color
yes; 2 spp: 1 lg
and black; 1
smaller, reddish,
pointed ("lem")
snout, more
common - groups
up to 50-60
yes, many; lg
antlers bought by
Lao traders for
400,000-500,000
kip
yes; 1 sp, red (plus
chevrotains)
"meuy" (=Gaur?),
many in area 2-3
km from village
B. Sod
never seen
no, never knew
1 sp., black
1 sp; black like
village pig;
yes, have
everywhere
1 sp., red
None in this area,
but used to see
tracks at old village
39
B. Chomsy1
not now; present
long ago, in 1960s,
but not now
B. Namkha-lue
(along with wild cattle)
given to answer "What
wild animals have
locally declined the
most in last 10-15
years?"
A 60 yr. old informant
said that in 1985,
when he was village
chief, a district official
shot and killed a rhino
in what is now the
NPA
2 spp: one black like
village pig; short body
but long snout; long
hair; and one that is
red, with long body;
snout not long; short
hair; more common
Yes; 2 spp.;
Yes, have, but not
a lot;
still many
1 sp + chevrotain
("fan kai");
red sp. only, every
area; also
chevrotain ("fan
kai")
Not seen since 2nd
informant, Mr Chakheu, arrived in
1994; none; not for
a long time, if ever
still many
• Seen in area up to
2-3 years ago;
• more recently, saw
tracks 7-8 km
away in NPA;
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
B. Toup
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
B. Sod
B. Chomsy1
B. Namkha-lue
• ID'd as Gaur by pic
and description
(big; black w/ white
legs); called
"kathing", "ngoua
kathing" and
"ngoua pa" [forest
or wild catte];
• volunteered that
the gall is very
effective medicine,
which implies that
wild cattle are
hunted locally
• one of 2 spp
(along with
elephant) given to
answer "What wild
animals have
locally declined the
most in last 10-15
years?"
Serow "nyeuang"
Crop pests
yes; 2 spp. on
rocky mtns/cliffs:
one long horns,
and black; one
smaller, short
horns and red or
red/black; no horns
in village - sell too
quickly
Wild pigs,
macaques,
sambar, bears
("mee"), rodents
yes; 1 sp, black
mixed with white;
no other species,
by looking at
Francis plate 'don't have the red
one'.
1 sp., black, area
of upper rocky
streams and
waterfalls/cliffs
wild pigs - many;
eat swidden rice
Wild pigs, Pigtailed macaques
(by Parr pic), birds,
porcupines ("min")
eat cassava); small
rodents ("nou")
40
Yes, in Nam Nga
area
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
B. Toup
Other information
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
B. Sod
B. Chomsy1
B. Namkha-lue
• Min licks 1-2
hrs walk from
village; serow,
sambar,
muntjacs but
not wild cattle
visit.
• no rabbits or
peafowl here or
at old village
• Silver Pheasant
abundant (by
Robson pic)
• peacock
pheasants (by
Robson pic and
name "nok kon
kod") common
• Residents set
spear traps for
wild pigs; last
year one killed
villager from
Ban Sod,
unfamiliar with
area.
Lamet can eat any
animals - no
taboos
The Black Lahu
have taboos on
eating: wild cattle,
wild buffalo,
gibbons, grey
langurs, snakes,
macaques, turtles.
They can eat/kill:
"nyeuang" (serow),
muntjacs, sambar,
wild pigs, Dhole (but
rarely eaten), bears.
No spirit forests,
other than
cemetery.
Animal that has
declined the most is
Great Barbet;
Most wildlife near
Nam Nga; Have lg.
flying squirrels;
have Hog Badger,
like to eat; 3 spp of
civets; mongoose
(by Lao name); 3
spp of squirrels red-bellied; redcheeked; large
black one; no
rabbits; bamboo
rats have; monitors
and water monitors
have; "nok nyeung"
(=Green Peafowl?)
seen by parents,
but not now;
pheasants and
Few softshell turtles
('pa fa') left.
Informants said that
Lue have no taboos on
killing or eating any
animals, saying with
laughter "Just one rule
- if it has meat we can
eat it".
41
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
B. Toup
B. Mokhouk
B. Satoon
B. Sod
B. Chomsy1
grey-peack pheas
have; Greater
Coucal; green
pigeons have
42
B. Namkha-lue
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Appendix 5. Bird species recorded
Location I: Houayxay town; 16-18 and 26-27 February 2010
Location II: Village environs and forest areas in Houayxay District; 18-22 February 2010
Location III: Town and village environs and forest areas in Mung District; 23-25 February
C: Common; observed multiple times daily in suitable habitat
P: Present, but insufficient time spent in the location and/or in suitable habitat, or using suitable
detection methods, to determine status
[ ]: unconfirmed identification
In addition, Chainoy photographed in Ban Namkha-lue (Mung District) the wing of a large owl,
consistent with (but not confirmed to be) a species of fish owl (Ketupa) and captive Bar-backed
Partridges and Grey-headed Parakeets were seen in Ban Chomsy.
ENGLISH NAME
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Scaly-breasted Partridge
Red Junglefowl
Silver Pheasant
Grey Peacock Pheasant
Bay Woodpecker
Great Barbet
u. barbets, at least 2 spp.
Red-headed Trogon
Blyth's Kingfisher
Blue-eared Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Blue-bearded Bee-eater
Large Hawk Cuckoo
Plaintive Cuckoo
Green-billed Malkoha
Greater Coucal
u. swiftlets
Asian Palm Swift
Mountain Scops Owl
Collared Scops Owl
Collared Owlet
Asian Barred Owlet
Brown Hawk Owl
Spotted Dove
Pompadour/Thick-billed Green
Pigeon
Thick-billed Green Pigeon
Pin-tailed Green Pigeon
White-breasted Waterhen
Small Pratincole
Black Baza
u. kestrel
u. pond heron
Little Heron
Long-tailed Broadbill
u. leafbird
Long-tailed Shrike
Large-billed Crow
u. minivets
Arborophila charltonii
Gallus gallus
Lophura nycthemera
Polyplectron bicalcaratum
Blythipicus pyrrhotis
Megalaima virens
Megalaima spp.
Harpactes erythrocephalus
Alcedo hercules
Alcedo meninting
Halcyon smyrnensis
Nyctyornis athertoni
Hierococcyx sparveroides
Cacomantis merulinus
Phaenicophaeus tristis
Centropus sinensis
Collocalia sp.
Cypsiurus balasiensis
Otus spilocephalus
Otus bakkamoena
Glaucidium brodiei
Glaucidium cuculoides
Ninox scutulata
Streptopelia chinensis
Treron pompadora/curvirostra
Treron curvirostra
Treron apicauda
Amaurornis phoenicurus
Glareola lactea
Aviceda leuphotes
Falco sp.
Ardeola sp.
Butorides striatus
Psarisomus dalhousiae
Chloropsis sp.
Lanius schach
Corvus macrorhynchos
Pericrocrotus sp.
43
I
II
C
P
P
P
[C]
C
P
III
P
P
[P]
C
[P]
[P]
P
P
P
P
P
P
C
P
[P]
P
P
P
C
C
P
P
C
[C]
P
C
C
P
P
P
P
P
P
C
P
P
P
P
P
C
C
C
P
P
P
P
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Black Drongo
Ashy Drongo
Bronzed Drongo
Spangled Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Common Iora
Blue Whistling Thrush
u. flycatcher
Verditer Flycatcher
u. blue flycatcher
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
Oriental Magpie Robin
White-rumped Shama
Plumbeous Water Redstart
Slaty-backed Forktail
White-crowned Forktail
Common Myna
Hill Myna
Barn Swallow
Black-headed Bulbul
Black-crested Bulbul
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Sooty-headed Bulbul
Puff-throated Bulbul
Grey-eyed Bulbul
Rufescent/Grey-breasted Prinia
Common Tailorbird
u. Phylloscopus
Yellow-bellied Warbler
Buff-breasted Babbler
Grey-throated Babbler
Striped Tit Babbler
Plain Flowerpecker
Black-throated Sunbird
Crimson Sunbird
Streaked Spiderhunter
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
White Wagtail
White Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Olive-backed Pipit
Dicrurus macrocercus
Dicrurus leucophaeus
Dicrurus aeneus
Dicrurus hottentottus
Dicrurus paradiseus
Aegithina tiphia
Myophonus caeruleus
Ficedula sp
Eumyias thalassina
Cyornis sp.
Culicicapa ceylonensis
Copsychus saularis
Copsychus malabaricus
Rhyacornis fuliginosus
Enicurus schistaceus
Enicurus leschenaulti
Acridotheres tristis
Gracula religiosa
Hirundo rustica
Pycnonotus atriceps
Pycnonotus melanicterus
Pycnonotus jocosus
Pycnonotus aurigaster
Alophoixus pallidus
Iole propinqua
Prinia rufescens/hodgsonii
Orthotomus sutorius
Phylloscopus sp.
Abroscopus superciliaris
Pellorneum tickelli
Stachyris nigriceps
Macronous gularis
Dicaeum concolor
Aethopyga saturata
Aethopyga siparaja
Arachnothera magna
Passer montanus
Motacilla alba
Motacilla alba leucopsis
Motacilla cinerea
Anthus hodgsoni
44
[P]
C
[C]
P
P
P
P
P
C
C
P
P
P
C
P
P
C
P
P
[P]
C
P
P
C
P
C
[P]
C
P
C
P
P
P
P
[P]
P
P
[P]
C
P
P
P
P
C
P
P
P
P
C
C
P
C
[P]
P
C
[P]
A scoping mission to Nam Kan National Protected Area, Lao PDR
Appendix 6: Details of the incident of a villager killed by a Tiger
This information was collected on 23 February 2010 by interview in Ban Namkha-lue, near
where the incident took place. See Appendix 4 for details on the village and informants.
In July or August of 2005 or 2006, three village men (one of whom was present at the
interview) were returning from pole fishing in the Nam Kha/Nam Touey river. About 6 km from
the village, at about 14:00 in the afternoon, they found where a Tiger (or large cat) had killed
a wild pig and dragged it into cover at the base of the hill. The interview informant who was
one of the three men present believes there were two Tigers, but why is not clear.
[Vongkhamheng and Johnson (2009) describe what is clearly the same incident, and their
account reports that when villagers returned to the site the next day they found two sets of
tracks, of different sizes.] The men heard the large cat(s) and may have seen at least one (a
Tiger) in the direction in which the pig was dragged (but this last point is not clear). One of
the men, Mr. Bounthavy, aged 42, was armed with a rifle and told the other two to remain
where they were, while he attempted to follow and shoot the Tiger(s). As Mr. Bounthavy
walked along the base of the hill toward where they had heard (and possibly seen) a Tiger, a
Tiger jumped on him from the slope above. This bit of detail suggests the attack was seen by
the other two (and thus supports the identity of the animal as a Tiger), but again this is not
clear; the report of Vongkhamheng and Johnson (2009) suggests that the attack was not
witnessed. Mr. Bounthavy did not fire a shot, and the other two men fled. Villagers returned
the next morning and found Mr. Bounthavy's remains. His legs, buttocks and abdominal
organs had been eaten (and at least one of his shoes chewed on), but his upper torso was
intact.
45