Community Managed Eld's Deer Sanctuary

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Lao People's Democratic Republic


The Lower Mekong Dry Forests Ecoregion has been identified as a conservation priority by WWF, working in partnership with governments and communities in the region.

The project aims to support the establishment of a sanctuary for the endangered Eld’s deer (Cervus eldii).


The Lower Mekong Dry Forests Ecoregion consists of a mosaic of open dry forests, semi-evergreen forests and small ponds and wet seasonally wet grasslands.

However, the region has been significantly converted and degraded - in particular the density of many of the large mammal species is considerably reduced. This includes Eld’s deer, which was previously thought to be on the brink of extinction.

The population remains vulnerable and has been an easy target for hunters. The siamensis subspecies occurs only in Cambodia, Laos and Hainan Island. Protection of the species in this area is therefore vital.

Due to some excellent preparatory work by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), 3 villages in Savannakhet Province in Central Laos, in the heart of the remaining Dry Forest, have agreed to the establishment of a sanctuary for the country’s last population of Eld’s deer.

With a relatively small amount of external support the community is willing to patrol and protect the area, and despite high levels of poverty, to ensure their land management does not damage the remaining habitat, or compromise the Eld’s deer population. However, at this early stage of development external support is needed to both bring technical capacity - and to demonstrate that the broader community is genuinely interested in their area - and their flagship species.


1. Increased awareness and commitment from the villages in which Eld’s deer exist.

2. Increased awareness and support from the communities throughout the area to participate in the planned ecoregional level intervention.

3. Increased awareness and support from local government agencies.

4. Increased understanding of appropriate management responses through the village communities.

5. Reduced threats to the deer population and the habitat on which it is dependent.


- Motivate local community to have pride in their flagship species and to take responsibility for its protection.

- Initial indications are that this relatively simple solution will be effective.

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