Setting conservation priorities in the Annamite mountains of Laos and Vietnam

The exceptional biodiversity and endemism of the Annamite region of Vietnam and Laos is threatened substantially by illegal hunting. We use state of the art systemic biodiversity surveys and statistical models to identify the last strongholds of wildlife.

Project details
Duration: since 05/2014
Third-party funded: yes
Involved Department(s): Dept Ecological Dynamics
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader(s): Andreas Wilting (Dept Ecological Dynamics)
Leibniz-IZW Project Team: Andrew TilkerThanh Nguyen, An Nguyen (all: Dept Ecological Dynamics)
Consortium Partner(s):

Academic partners: Southern Institute of Ecology (SIE, Vietnam), Central Institute for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (VNU-CRES, Vietnam), Vinh University (Vietnam)

Conservation partners: World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Vietnam, World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Laos, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) Vietnam, Association Anoulak, Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC)
Current Funding Organisation: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Point Defiance Zoo & Aquaria, National Geographic, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Eva Mayr-Stihl Stiftung

Research Foci:

Understanding the environmental context
Improving population viability
Developing theories, methods, and tools


Globally mammalian biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate as a result of widespread habitat loss and degradation, and unsustainable hunting. Since 2014, we have worked in the Annamite mountain range of Vietnam and Laos. This ecoregion is a global biodiversity hotspot with an exceptionally high concentration of endemic mammals. However, its terrestrial mammal communities are highly threatened by illegal hunting using wire snares. Industrial-scale snaring has resulted in largely defaunated landscapes, and all Annamite endemics are threatened with extinction.

We implemented systematic camera-trapping and invertebrate-derived DNA surveys across a suite of sites, including both protected and non-protected areas, across the Annamites. A major focus of our work is to better understand the ecology and distribution of little-known but threatened Annamite endemics. To do this, we use advanced species distribution models to map mammalian biodiversity at landscape-scales, thus helping to identify the last strongholds for threatened Annamite species. In all of our work we collaborate closely with local conservation stakeholders and decision makers in order to integrate our results directly into wildlife and conservation management.

Selected Publications

Nguyen A, Tran VB, Huang MD, Nguyen TAM, Nguyen DT, Tran VT, Long B, Meijaard E, Holland J, Wilting A, Tilker A (2019): Camera-trap evidence that the silver-backed chevrotain Tragulus versicolor remains in the wild in Vietnam. NAT ECOL EVOL 3, 1650–1654. doi:10.1038/s41559-019-1027-7.

Tilker A, Abrams JF, Mohamed A, Nguyen A, Wong ST, Sollmann R, Niedballa J, Bhagwat T, Gray TNE, Rawson BM, Guegan F, Kissing J, Wegmann M, Wilting A (2019): Habitat degradation and indiscriminate hunting differentially impact faunal communities in the Southeast Asian tropical biodiversity hotspot. COMMS BIOL 2, 396. doi:10.1038/s42003-019-0640-y.

Tilker AAbrams JFNguyen AHörig LAxtner JLouvrier J, Rawson BM, Nguyen HAQ, Guegan F, Nguyen TV, Le M, Sollmann R, Wilting A (2020): Identifying conservation priorities in a defaunated tropical biodiversity hotspot. DIVERS DISTRIB 00, 1– 15. doi:10.1111/ddi.13029