Blog Repost from Our Conservation Partner: Lao Elephant Initiative – Written by Nina Brask
A biodiversity hotspot is a biographic region with significantly high levels of biodiversity that also meet two strict criteria:
1:The area must contain at least 1500 species of endemic vascular plants
2: The area has to have lost 70% of its primary vegetation
Around the world only 36 areas qualify under this definition – BUT these few sites supporting nearly 60% of the worlds plant, bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species with a very high share of those species endemic to those specific areas. An endemic species is a species that only live in a certain area and has adapted perfectly to that specific area, which is also why species in biodiversity hotspots are fragile – if the area they live in gets destroyed, the species goes extinct.
The Indo-Burma region ranks among the world’s top 10 “biodiversity hotspots”. As the plant and animal life here is so rich, diverse and perfectly adapted to the pristine forests they inhabit, these areas are also particularly susceptible to human encroachment like development, deforestation, and fragmentation. The Indo-Burma Hotspot includes all non-marine parts of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, plus parts of southern China.
Humans make out only 0.001 % of all life, including bacteria (13%), plants (82%), all other creatures from insects to fungi to fish and animals make up just 5% on our planet. Even though we are an insignificant part of all life we humans have destroyed 83% of all wildlife on our planet so far – many of which come from these “biodiversity hotspots”.
Lao PDR once supported big populations of wild elephants and other wildlife iconic and endemic to southeast Asia. Sadly, few remain as habitat and forage for these giant mammals are shrinking as humans encroach on the habitat. Today Nam Poui is home to only 50-60 wild elephants – sadly the largest known population currently residing in the country. The few remaining elephants in Nam Poui are incredibly vulnerable to the threats of poaching for the illegal ivory trade, illegal logging, exploitation for tourism and loss of habitat. Primarily, a result of inadequate resources and funding to properly manage and patrol its boundaries and protect the elephants. At Lao Elephant Initiative we want to fight for the remaining elephants in Nam Poui – we think this world would be significantly poorer and much less esthetic without these majestic animals around.
Read more about our “Save the Nam Poui Elephants” conservation project on our homepage at: https://www.laoelephantinitiative.org/nam-poui-nbca
Biodiversity Hotspots Explained : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaQBaVeEbW8
Biodiversity in the Mekong : https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/mekong-river-region-named-global-biodiversity-hotspot-by-wwf-after-367-new-species-are-discovered-in-9486539.html