Con­ser­va­tion re­port

This month, An­drew Tilker shines a spot­light on a lit­tle-known lago­morph from South-East Asia.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents - AN­DREW TILKER is a bi­ol­o­gist at Leib­niz In­sti­tute for Zoo and Wildlife Re­search.

The rare and en­demic An­na­mite striped rab­bit of South-East Asia

Where does it live?

In the An­na­mite moun­tains on the bor­der of Viet­nam and Laos. It’s a very small moun­tain range, but it’s home to an in­cred­i­ble num­ber of ran­ger­e­stricted en­demic species that very lit­tle is known about and that are highly threat­ened. Put those three things to­gether and there’s re­ally no other area on the planet like it, at least for mam­mals.

And this is no or­di­nary rab­bit?

It’s re­ally fan­tas­tic – short ears, short legs, tiger stripes and a red­dish rump. It was only dis­cov­ered in the 1990s when a col­league found one be­ing sold in a mar­ket in Laos. There’s an­other striped rab­bit in Su­ma­tra, which is also se­cre­tive, mys­te­ri­ous and threat­ened. There’s noth­ing else like them.

What else lives in the re­gion?

There’s the saola, a species of wild cat­tle that is one of the rarest mam­mals on the planet – it is very close to ex­tinc­tion. There are also sev­eral species of munt­jac and a civet. These are just the en­demic mam­mals. There are count­less other things.

What’s the prob­lem?

All these mam­mals have been hit very hard by hunt­ing with wire snares. The level of snar­ing is al­most in­com­pre­hen­si­ble, to the ex­tent that many forests con­tain noth­ing larger than a rat or squir­rel. I’d say there’s al­most no sub­sis­tence hunt­ing in Viet­nam or Laos. This is about the ris­ing mid­dle class in Viet­nam. The poach­ing sup­plies city restau­rants. Our cam­er­a­trap sur­veys show that the rab­bits are not on the verge of ex­tinc­tion like the saola, but they’re get­ting close.

What can be done?

We (Leib­niz In­sti­tute for Zoo and Wildlife Re­search with the co-op­er­a­tion of lo­cal peo­ple) are try­ing to un­der­stand where the An­na­mite striped rab­bit oc­curs to­day and, to­gether with lo­cal coun­ter­parts, we’re try­ing to pro­tect these ar­eas from snar­ing. Stu­art Black­man

These lit­tle-known striped rab­bits are found in for­est habitats of Laos and Viet­nam.

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