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Title: Species distribution, abundance and conservation in Nakai-nam Theun National Protected Area, Central-Eastern Laos : implications for future local wildlife conservation project
Author: Coudrat, Camille N. Z.
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2013
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Southeast Asia is experiencing unprecedented biodiversity declines brought about by human population growth and economic development leading to unsustainable use of natural resources and loss of natural habitat. The scientific community has emphasized this biodiversity crisis in the past decade, calling for immediate action. In this context, I set my research as a case study in Nakai-­‐Nam Theun National Protected Area (NNT NPA), central eastern Laos where wildlife hunting has been rampant and management strategy failing to prevent wildlife declines. This research aimed (1) to re-­‐assess and bring forward the importance of NNT NPA for wildlife conservation, (2) to identify the key species for which NNT NPA is a priority for their conservation, (3) to use the data collected to develop a long-­‐term project in the area for research and conservation. In addition to this local-­‐level case study, I aimed (4) to identify the National near-­‐future priorities for research and conservation of Lao non-­‐ human primates (primates). For the latter, I reviewed the literature for the most reliable occurrence localities of Lao primate species across the country to model their potential distribution. I used the models to re-­‐assess their current status and identify the remaining gaps in our knowledge that need to be addressed. For the research in NNT NPA, I collected baseline data on key species occurrence and threats within the area. From January 2011 to March 2012, I conducted transect surveys in 10 different sites in the area. At each site, I set four to 20 transects, each replicated up to three times. During the transect walks I recorded all diurnal primate species sighted. In addition, I used the camera-­‐trap database of 2006 management staff. Using modelling softwares (MAXENT, ENFA, DISTANCE) to provide baseline predictions, I analysed both my transect survey and the camera-­‐trap survey data to assess the current status and distribution of red-­‐shanked doucs (Pygathrix nemaeus), four macaque species (Macaca arctoides, M. assamensis, M. leonina, M. mulatta), small-­‐carnivores (i.e. Viveridae, Prionodontidae, Herpestidae and Mustelidae), small medium-­‐sized cat species and muntjacs species (Muntiacus spp.) occurring in the area. My analysis of Lao primates distribution models at the National level reveals that (1) so-­‐far unvisited regions of northestern Laos may hold populations of highly-­‐ threatened colobines. Future research should focus on the taxonomy and distribution range limit between taxa of Nomascus, Pygathrix, T. francoisi s.l. and T. germaini s.l. The modelling results emphasise the need for more research on primate species in Laos, a country of high priority for primate conservation. My case-­‐study research in NNT NPA reveals that (2) based on a MAXENT analysis, I predicted a conservative suitable habitat of ca. 1600 km2 in NNT NPA and through a distance analysis, I estimated an average group density of 2.8 groups/km2, yielding a potential for ca. 4900 groups in the area. The population of red-­‐shanked doucs in NNT NPA likely -­‐term global survival. (3) Based on a MAXENT analysis using records from both transects and camera-­‐traps, the four resident macaque species were predicted to occupy a different geographical range and niche within NNT NPA. Macaca arctoides, M. assemensis, M. leonina and M. mulatta, respectively were predicted along a general environmental gradient: from low to high temperature and precipitation, and high to low elevation and slopes. The potential distribution of these four co-­‐existing, and morphologically similar species will have important implication for their management and future research. (4) Of 20259 camera trap-­‐days, from March 2006 to January 2011 only 21 images taken were of these four cat species. All these species were found with much lower survey efforts in NNT NPA in the 1990s. These species are readily camera-­‐ trapped in other evergreen forest sites in South-­‐east Asia. In combination, these factors indicate that the present low encounter rate is likely to represent their induced low density in NNT NPA due to high hunting pressure. This indicates that protected large forest blocks or mainly primary forests do not ensure the long-­‐term survival of hunting-­‐sensitive species. (5) Of the at least 21 small-­‐carnivore species (Viverridae, Prionodontidae, Mustelidae, and Herpestidae) confirmed in Laos, 15 occur in Nakai-­‐Nam Theun NPA of which ten were photographed during this survey: common palm civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, masked palm civet Paguma larvata, large Indian civet Viverra zibetha Chrotogale owstoni, spotted linsang Prionodon pardicolor, binturong Arctictis binturong, yellow-­‐throated marten, ferret badger sp(p). Melogale sp(p)., hog badger Arctonyx collaris and crab-­‐ eating mongoose Herpestes urva. The high rate of hunting with ground snares in the 5 area put some of these species at high risk of local extinction; however, NNT NPA remains one of the most important areas in Laos for small-­‐carnivore species, in (6) Based on an ENFA and MAXENT analysis, Critically Endangered large-­‐antlered muntjac M. vuquangensis and other resident muntjac species differ in their predicted potential distribution. The former is predicted at lower elevation range, in the western part of the NPA. NNT NPA represents the core habitat of M. vuquangensis and its conservation should be a priority in the area (7) Over my field work in NNT NPA I counted over 3000 ground snares (active or about to be set). Despite a management strategy in place and funding available, wildlife conservation in NNT NPA has not been successful. The major threat to wildlife is unsustainable hunting, using ground snares, by both Lao and Vietnamese hunters driven by a lucrative wildlife trade between the two countries. This indicates the urgent need for wildlife management improvement in the area, to be targeted on illegal hunting activities and the need for a long-­‐term research and conservation project to improve our knowledge of this rich wildlife, ensure its long-­‐term conservation and empower and educate local communities towards an integrated conservation strategy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available