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Endangered fauna and flora in Laos

Countless threats plague the animals and nature of Laos. Poaching, trade, exploitation, deforestation, pollution...

Lao fauna and flora severely threatened

Our planet is faced with a crisis of world extinction never before known by humanity. The revolution needed to fight this catastrophe can only be appreciated in the light of precise consideration of the situation. Let’s face it: in the living world, the biomass has dropped by 67% in a decade. Hundreds of scientists are warning us that the irreversible tipping points have already been crossed. They predict that more than a million species are on the verge of extinction in the coming decades. Therefore, talks of a sixth mass extinction of plants and animals are on the rise, the sixth one in the last 500 million years, the worst one since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it would normally occur at a rate of 1 to 5 species per year. Currently, species are disappearing 1,000 to 10,000 times faster, which means that dozens of species are vanishing from the face of the Earth every day.

Past extinctions entirely resulted from catastrophic natural events such as volcanic eruptions, asteroid strikes, and violent climate change. The current crisis is almost entirely caused by humans. Indeed, human activities are to blame for the extinction of 99% of animal species.

The wildlife trade amplifies the threat of extinction of nearly 9,000 species, according to a study published by The Conversation. The annual profits generated by wildlife trafficking are estimated at more than 20 billion dollars. Do profits legitimize torturing animals that share our planet?

Our choice is obvious! We would rather protect life than prioritize economic growth. In times when all we hear about is making more money, having more economic growth, consuming more and being more comfortable, we choose to stand up against injustice and act daily to protect animals and life. What are you waiting for to join us?

A living hell for the wild animals of Laos

The situation in Laos is dire. As in many developing countries, the poor and uneducated populations are often unconcerned with animal suffering and with the importance of preserving land and living spaces.

The lack of budget and research on wildlife in Laos prevents us from accurately assessing the size of the problem, although the data that we can collect on the internet or via protection organizations is distressing. Beyond the data, what’s tragic is the reality of it all, which we see on a day-to-day basis…

Bears imprisoned, mutilated, tortured to extract a bile with alleged aphrodisiac virtues, spending a life of suffering before dying, the trafficking and selling of protected animals on black markets, the snaring of monkeys sent by thousands abroad to be dissected in pharmaceutical laboratories, Elephants deprived of their habitat, broken, mistreated and condemned to carry tourists on their backs from morning to night, pangolins slaughtered to manufacture supposedly wonder drugs for curing infertility or impotence, the unending list of mistreatments inflicted on animals testifies to a somber reality of their living conditions in Southeast Asia.

People, here in Laos as elsewhere, are rarely aware that animals are sentient beings deserving of love and respect, and see them as a resource to be exploited without limit to generate profit.

What threats do the wild animals of Laos have to face?

The wild animals of Laos are seriously threatened. They face many threats that are, in some cases, exceedingly difficult to suppress. But make no mistake, wildlife trafficking is strictly forbidden in Laos and many laws protect the wildlife. The Laotian government is especially involved in this fight and many actions are carried out by the authorities, now fully aware of the extent of the situation.

Lao PDR takes the threat of illegal wildlife trade very seriously. In 2018, the Prime Minister’s new Order on Wildlife Management and Inspection was applauded by the international community for its ambitious and exemplary action. This extremely strict order has made considerable progress in the fight against illegal wildlife trade, tiger and bear farms, poaching and international trade in endangered species.

Despite government initiatives to try and stop this catastrophe, species continue to disappear. Reinforcing controls and patrols, changing mentalities, replacing trafficking by new jobs, creating, extending and protecting natural parks are actions that take years. Therefore, Animal Sanctuary Laos is committed to the Laotian government for the protection of animals and nature.

Main threats for the animals of Laos

The threats are innumerable! Animals are victims of the irrational exploitation of the environment by people, who view nature as an unlimited resource. Here are the main threats which still currently weigh heavily on the Laotian wildlife.

Forest ranger collecting poachers' traps

Illegal hunting / Consumption

Illegal hunting or hunting without moderation, respect or ethics is a major problem for the survival of the Laotian wildlife. Every day, in the forests of the country, hundreds of animals are killed. Some kill for the fun of it, the excitement of hunting, others for the exotic side of eating wild animal meat. In Laos, locals also hunt for habit, tradition or food and are sometimes unaware of the devastating effect and cruelty of their actions.

Poaching / trafficking & trade

Poaching is a real scourge for the survival of species. According to WWF and IFAW, wildlife crime is worth 20 billion Euros to traffickers each year. Wildlife trafficking, which includes poaching, capture and trade, attracts criminals because of the low risks, high profits and low penalties. Wildlife trafficking is the fourth most lucrative illegal activity in the world, behind drug trafficking, counterfeiting and human trafficking.

Wild animals in cages and being sold on illegal markets
Elephant in captivity and chained in Laos

Exploitation / Entertainment

An animal in an amusement park or in captivity is not a happy animal. They have been exploited for thousands of years for various jobs, for war or for agricultural work. Today, animals are exploited to generate substantial amounts of income in amusement parks, tourist traps or dubious so-called animal welfare organizations. In Laos, elephants are the main victims. After being mistreated, tortured, the pachyderms are condemned to walk tourists all year long or are chained and then showed to attract the curious. Many people also illegally own wild animals for their amusement. Thus, some individuals hold lorises, civets, birds of prey, leopard cats, red panda, or other endangered animals. Even in defiance of Laotian laws, some amusement parks display wild animals in cages in front of their establishments.

Loss of habitat / deforestation / excessive urbanization

The degradation and destruction of natural habitats are the main threats to biodiversity in Laos today. Fragmented, polluted, diminished, natural ecosystems suffer from the expansion of intensive human activities such as deforestation and urbanization. Deforestation has caused 290 million hectares of forest cover to disappear worldwide between 1990 and 2015 for agriculture and urbanization. It is the leading cause of habitat destruction. In addition to the loss of biodiversity, the destruction or degradation of natural habitats can have other consequences, such as a strong decrease in the resistance of the land to natural disasters. Many animal species are now forced to live in increasingly reduced and fragmented natural habitats. They find themselves isolated, puts them at risk of running out of food and of not being able to find partners to reproduce. The fragmentation of natural habitats also reduces the ability of animals to hide and to flee. This makes them easier prey for poachers. It is of the essence to support the preservation of representative ecosystems, but this is not enough. The sustainable management of all areas is key.

A forest is being razed in Laos
Invasive species in Laos

Invasive species/diseases

A species is considered invasive if it has been introduced by humans into a place, area or region where it was not previously naturally present, if it becomes capable of setting up a breeding population in the new location without further human intervention, and if it becomes a pest in the new location, directly threatening local agriculture and/or biodiversity. For several centuries, alien animal and plant species have been introduced into Laos, particularly in the agricultural sector for economic development. Whether introduced accidentally or intentionally, non-native species grow and reproduce rapidly, then spread through ecosystems aggressively. Global warming, higher average temperatures, and changes in rainfall patterns allow some invasive plant species to move into new areas. Insect pest infestations are more severe, and pathogens and their hosts that thrive at higher temperatures are spreading into new areas, can create considerable damage, and even decimate entire species.

Climate change

The effects of “human-induced” climate change are no longer the predictions of a few enlightened alarmists but are now being confirmed by every scientist and in all aspects of life. This is the most important and serious environmental threat of our era. Climate change and extreme weather events have already begun to affect people and nature around the world. And climate change is worsening other threats such as habitat destruction, overexploitation of wildlife, and disease. Humans and wildlife are facing new challenges to their survival due to climate change. More frequent and intense droughts, storms and heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans can directly harm animals, destroy the places where they live and disrupt the livelihoods of people and communities. Some species manage to adapt. Others move to new, more favourable areas. Some species are affected in ways that will influence generations to come. Humans are not spared. The destruction and degradation of the planet’s natural habitats has a direct impact on the climate, on species and on all the natural resources we need to live and on our health. There is an invisible link between our health and the health of ecosystems. By destroying forests and penetrating deeper and deeper into the heart of previously untouched ecosystems, humans meet new viruses hosted by wildlife. This creates opportunities for viruses such as coronavirus to pass from their natural host to a domestic animal or to infect humans directly.

Fisherman sitting on his boat next to a dry river
Farmer spraying pesticide on rice field

Pollution

Human-induced pollution is one of the major threats to wildlife habitat. Humans have treated the air, water, and land as a dumping ground, without regard for the ecological consequences of pollution. Wildlife populations are constantly faced with various pollutants released into the environment. Human activities, including the intensive exploitation of land and natural resources, production methods, as well as overconsumption and the waste it generates, lead to the degradation and destruction of ecosystems.

An overwhelming figure: There are 500 times more pieces of micro plastic in the sea than there are stars in our galaxy. Eight hundred million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year, washing up on previously pristine parts of the planet and threatening the survival of more than 600 species of marine life.

Other pollutants such as pesticides and herbicides released into the environment also have a devastating impact on biodiversity. Over the past 80 years, global chemical production has increased 500-fold, contaminating entire landscapes, accumulating in the bodies of animals and plants, and altering and disrupting the DNA of wildlife. Pollution from industrial emissions, traffic, and other commercial activities has eroded the ozone layer and altered entire climate patterns. Ecosystems that have survived and evolved through the ages, dependent on climate and seasonal cycles, have been totally disrupted.

The multiple threats

The threats are multiple and are mostly caused by humans. Read the compelling report on the greatest threats to wildlife in the world

What are we doing to fight these threats?

What are we doing to fight these threats?

Animal Sanctuary Laos acts concretely to save our animal friends, to preserve nature and to pass on the young generation altruistic values of love, peace, mutual aid and respect of our planet. Rescue, recovery, care, accompaniment, species conservation, rehabilitation, awareness, prevention… We lead many actions that have a real effect on the situation.

Discover in details the missions of Animal Sanctuary Laos

The main endangered species in Laos

In Laos, as in the rest of the world, we only became aware extremely late of the gravity of the situation and the importance of protecting nature and animals. The fauna and flora have been decimated for decades before man realized the dramatic consequences of his actions. Thus, many species are now seriously endangered, or have completely disappeared from Laos. It would be impossible to list them all here, but among the most emblematic are the following:

What threats does the nature of Laos face?

The luxurious flora of Laos attracts travellers from all over the world in search of authenticity. From North to South, the country is 1600 km long and offers breath-taking landscapes on an area of 236 800 km2. Almost half of the country is covered by tropical forest.

Unfortunately, a massive and silent deforestation is breaking all records in a region where primary forests are increasingly threatened. International experts estimate that between the 1940s – the time of the French protectorate – and the early 2000s, the country’s forest cover fell from 70 percent to 41 percent.

For centuries, traditional shifting cultivation, or Ray as it is known in Laos, was the main cause of deforestation in the country. Today, deforestation is caused by many factors, but illegal logging, agricultural expansion, industrial plantation development, hydropower development, mining and other infrastructure development are particularly to blame.

Let's act now, before it's too late!

Obviously, each of us feels concerned on some level by the catastrophe that is taking place behind the scenes. However, very few of us experience daily the consequences of these upheavals. We continue to drive our cars, go to work, consume excessively, raise our children, play on our smartphones, go about our business while our society keeps functioning on a system of consumption that destroys our planet and causes terrible harm for the people and animals that inhabit it.

What does it matter if rhinos are exterminated? That monkeys are dissected in laboratories? That penguins are slaughtered by the thousands? That Asian animals are tortured and exploited? What difference does this make in our daily lives? In a frantic race for growth, for money, for increased comfort and entertainment, we are destroying nature, the lives of animals on the planet and our very humanity.

Animals and nature are in danger! It is time to become aware of this fact, to be more “human” and to act now, each at our own level, to stop this catastrophe.

A fight for life, for the love of men and animals, for the respect of our planet, that is what motivated our commitment to the Animal Sanctuary Laos project. We have decided to act to defend animals and nature and we will not wait for others to do it in our stead! Discover our concrete, intrepid and ambitious actions for the fauna and flora of Laos and Asia.

Discover more

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