Lao authorities admit that the population of wild lives in Laos has dramatically decreased and some species are at risk of extinction due to widespread destruction of their habitat and food sources by poaching.
According to a high ranking official of the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, the population of scarce species of both land and aquatic wild lives is considerably reduced and some of them are facing increasing threats to their survival, which will lead to their extinction in the near future if they are not properly protected.
While rare wild lives are a key factor attracting an increasing number of foreign tourists to Laos, they are also in high demand among illegal poachers and traders as the number of people who love to consume wild life parts in many countries remains high.
Logging, both legal and illegal, which has become increasingly widespread especially along Laos' borders with neighboring Vietnam, China and Thailand, has also contributed greatly to the destruction of the food sources and habitat of those wild lives.
According to a survey by the Wildlife Conservation Society or WCS, conducted at Huaphanh Province's Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Area since 2006, the rare species that is closest to extinction is the tiger. During the four-year survey, WCS says only 9 tigers were found in that area, and only two of them are female tigers.
The less-than-10 tiger population in the Nam Et Phou Louey Protection Area reflects the obvious destruction of the region, because tigers will live comfortably and be able to breed and multiply their population only when they live in a habitat that is abundant with food sources.
This deforestation situation has similarly affected the population of elephants in Laos. According to an assessment by the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, there are currently less than 1,000 wild and domesticated elephants remaining in Laos.
Sayabouly is the province with the largest elephant population, estimated to number about 500. However, it is believed that less than 200 of those are wild elephants.
Rare aquatic wild lives such as the Irrawaddy dolphins or Pa Kha, which are found in the Mekong river in southern Laos, are also in danger of extinction soon as currently there are only 70 of them remaining in Laos.
Songrit Pongern reported from Bangkok on 21 January, 2010. Listen to his report for more details in Lao, or read our Lao text.