CarBi project biodiversity surveys



Posted on 26 March 2013
Survey team, May 2012, Xe Sap, Laos
© Thomas Calame / WWF-Greater MekongEnlarge
Herpetological research (study of amphibians and reptiles), as part of the CarBi project's 2012 biodiversity surveys of Xe Sap National Protected Area (NPA) in southern Laos, have revealed an abundance of Annamite endemic species, including some species previously known only from a handful of specimens and records.

The recently finalized report on the intensive surveys - carried out between November 2011 and June 2012 and the first of the protected area since the 1990’s - show that the site supports a characteristic suite of Annamite species, but that densities of mammals have declined massively.

An important discovery for Indochina were records of the globally vulnerable Impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa). The endangered black-shanked douc was also observed for the first time in the Xe Sap National Protected Area.

A number of encounters with globally vulnerable and threatened birds were also noted, such as the black crowned barwing and chestnut-eared laughing thrush, which were previously thought to have only existed in central Vietnam. The Austen’s brown hornbill was recorded as well.

Other new findings include the discovery of a large population of Pinus dalatensis (IUCN Data Deficient), which dominated the hill evergreen forest in large sections of western Xe Sap NPA. This restricted range Annamite endemic was previously only known from central and southern Vietnam and one other site in Laos.

Well below natural densities

The surveys show that densities of large carnivores like tiger, leopard golden cat, dhole and bears have declined massively since the previous surveys in the late 1990s. Encounter rates of all mammal species were relatively low and mammal densities are clearly depressed by hunting. Signs of smaller ungulates (muntjac spp., serrow, wild pig) were widespread but these species are present at well below their natural densities.

The team did discover, however, apparently suitable habitat for saola and it is likely that a small, possibly isolated, saola population persists in this area.
Survey team, May 2012, Xe Sap, Laos
© Thomas Calame / WWF-Greater Mekong Enlarge
Impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa), Xe Sap, Laos.
© Thomas Calame / WWF-Greater Mekong Enlarge

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