Red-shanked douc monkey (Pygathrix nemaeus)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 11251503
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.
From January 2011 to March 2012, I conducted transect surveys in 10 different sites in the area. At each site, I walked four to 20 transects, each replicated up to three times. I recorded douc groups sighted, and signs of threats. I used both Distance Sampling and a habitat suitability model using MaxEnt program to estimate the abundance and distribution of red-shanked doucs (Pygathrix nemaeus) in Nakai Nam Theun NPA.
I predicted a conservative suitable habitat for doucs of ca. 1600 km2 in NNT NPA and 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 represents the world’s largest and the best hope for their long-term global survival.
Over my five-month field work in NNT NPA I collected over 3000 ground snares (active or about to be set), heard 14 gun shots and counted 41 poacher camps within the total protection zone of the area. 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 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 project to ensure its long-term conservation. The red-shanked douc can be used as a flagship species.
Project 11251503 location - Laos, Asia