‘eighty years of promoting biodiversity conservation through taxonomic research, scientific training and international networks’

Harrison Institute, Centre for Biodiversity Research




A kha-nyou (centre) together with some squirrels for sale in a market in Khammouan, Lao PDR.










The project is supported by The Rufford Small Grants Foundation.

Impacts of wildlife harvesting on the recently described ‘living fossil’, Kha-nyou (Laonastes aenigmamus), an endangered, endemic rodent from central Lao PDR

Host country: Lao PDR.

Project objective: Conservation in Laos faces two significant constraints: a paucity of substantive, scientific information on which to base initiatives to combat the most damaging aspects of wildlife trade, and very low human resources capacity for conservation work.

The current project focuses on wildlife harvesting in a ‘globally outstanding’ area for biological distinctiveness, the limestone karst of Khammouan and Bolikhamxay Provinces in the Northern Annamite Moist Forest Ecoregion.

The project’s central objective is to assess the impact of the trade on the Kha-nyou (Laonastes aenigmamus), with additional information on other endemic rodents and bats recently described from the region.
The Kha-nyou is an endangered species and the only known living representative of an otherwise extinct Miocene family of rodents (11 million years before present). Almost nothing is known of the species, except that it has a highly restricted distribution and is frequently sold in local markets, together with other endemic and rare taxa.

Website: http://www.ruffordsmallgrants.org/rsg/projects/

Collaborating institutions: National University of Laos; Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area Authorities in Lao PDR; WCS Laos; and the Harrison Institute.

Principal Funder: Rufford Small Grant (for Nature Conservation) - £6,000 of £6,278.

Harrison Institute contact: Dr Paul Bates – harrisoninstitute@btinternet.com

In-country contact: Mr Outhai Vongsa, Researcher at the Faculty of Natural Science, National University of Laos and working part time for Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Laos Program – Outhaiwcs@yahoo.com

Dates: February, 2009-April, 2010.