Annamite forests in Laos and Vietnam

The Annamite's Significance

The Annamites range, a rugged mountain chain on the border of Vietnam and Laos, harbors some of the world’s most threatened and least-known mammal species. Remarkably, several of these species were only recently discovered by science, including the Saola, a type of wild cattle and one of the rarest animals on earth, the Large-antlered Muntjac, and the Annamite Striped Rabbit. The Annamites are a hotspot for turtle diversity, with almost every species—whether softshell turtle, terrapin, or tortoise—being threatened with extinction. The mountain range is also of global importance for amphibian conservation with two amphibian centers of diversity at Nhoc Linh and Bidoup Nui Ba National Park.

Terrestrial mammals in the Annamites are threatened by intensive poaching through the ubiquitous setting of wire snares, while other forms of hunting target the turtles and amphibians. Poaching across the Annamites has emptied forests across the region. Without an unprecedented reduction in poaching, several Annamite endemics will go extinct in the near future. For some of the ultra-rare species, such as the Saola, Large-antlered Muntjac, Annamite Pond Turtle, and Swinhoe’s Giant Softshell Turtle, populations are already too low and fragmented to be viable, and intensive ex-situ management remains the last hope for survival.

(Top photo: Annamites Forest, photo by: Andrew Tilker)

Key Protected Areas of the Annamites

Map of the reserves in the annamite mountain range of Vietnam and Laos
Wild Facts
50+ unique ethnic groups recognized in the Annamites
The Saola has never been seen in the wild by a biologist.
The Silver-backed Chevrotain hasn’t been seen by scientists for almost three decades.
Annamite Mountains

(Photo by: Andrew Tilker)

Protecting the Annamites

To prevent the extinction of threatened Annamite endemics it is imperative that conservation stakeholders implement effective anti-poaching initiatives in key sites, establish baselines to enable robust monitoring within an adaptive management framework, and – for some critically endangered species – establish ex-situ populations. All of these components will involve capacity building for Vietnamese nationals.

Specific activities include:

  • Support targeted anti-poaching initiatives to ensure zero-poaching in GWC priority sites.
  • Community-driven management and conservation solutions to park management.
  • Systematic camera-trapping surveys in priority sites to establish population baselines and monitoring systems to evaluate conservation impact.
  • Research in wildlife criminology to understand the social, cultural, and economic drivers of snaring.
  • Mentoring of the next generation of Vietnamese conservation scientists and emerging national conservation organizations.
  • Establishing insurance populations and reintroduction programs for species on the edge of extinction.
  • Search for Silver-backed Chevrotain (Tragulus versicolor) as part of the Search for Lost Species.

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