Hin Nam No National Protected Area (NPA) is located in central Lao PDR, where the Central Indochina Limestone meets the Annamite Mountain Chain. Hin Namno or Hin Namno National Biodiversity Conservation Area is a nature reserve in Khammouane Province, Laos. This area encompasses 82,000 ha of a large and borders Phong Nha-Ke Bang of Vietnam to the east.
About Hin Nam No National Protected Area (NPA)
Hin Namno NPA has been under consideration for nomination as a potential Natural World Heritage site because of its natural landscape, unique geomorphologic formations of limestone karst, and the area’s rich biodiversity of wildlife and plants. The vast forests of the Nakai-Nam Teun National Protected Area act as an important watershed that feeds several Mekong tributaries as well as form the catchment area for Nam Teun 2, the largest hydropower project in Laos.
The majority of Hin Nam No is limestone karst. The area is estimated to be 31% forested, with 20% of dense or mature forest. The area closest to the Lao-Vietnam border is mainly mountains. Phou Chuang is the highest point (1492 m) in the property.
Flora and Fauna of Hin Nam No
Hin Nam No NPA has a variety of habitat and forest types provided by the landscape geomorphology support a high diversity of animals and plants, including a number of globally threatened species, endemic species and karst specialist species. There are 11 major habitat types including 7 forest habitats, 2 wetland habitats, bare rock (or sparse, stunted forest on limestone) and cave habitats.
Surveys of surface habitats in Hin Nam No have recorded 452 vascular plant species, and 377 vertebrate species including 55 mammals, 184 birds, 21 reptiles, 21 amphibians and 96 fish. Of these, 37 species are of conservation interest, with 11 of these being globally threatened.
Most notably, Hin Nam No contains 7 species of primate, 5 of which are globally threatened. The Red-shanked Douc Langur and the Southern White-cheeked Gibbon are charismatic ‘flagship’ species of Hin Nam No, and along with the Black Langur are globally endangered.
Hin Nam No harbors the largest and one of the last viable populations of these two endangered langurs in the world. Other charismatic species include 4 species of hornbill, one of which, the Rufous-necked Hornbill, is globally threatened.
Recent initial surveys of cave habitats in Hin Nam No have recorded at least 70 fauna species, with 7 of these being new species and 5 endemics, including a cave-adapted fish species (Bangana musaei) which is endemic and globally threatened. The caves of Hin Nam No are also home to the Giant Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda maxima), the world’s largest spider by leg-span.
Given the integrity of the karst, the range of habitats and micro-habitats, and its biogeographic setting, additional surveys of flora and fauna covering different terrain and other taxa are nearly certain to reveal many more species records and species new to science.
The people of Hin Nam No
Hin Nam No NPA has a variety of ethnic groups such as Makong, Tri, Yoy, Phoutai, Kaleung, Vietic, and Salang/Kris (this ethnic group has only 28 families). Most of the locals rely on farming, gardening, collecting non-timber forest products and scrap metal collection for their livelihoods. Besides, they raise livestock to increase household incomes. Slash and burn cultivation is no longer allowed inside the protected area.
Hin Nam No NPA has the Ho Chi Minh trail running through it, particularly along the road from Bualapha to Lang Khang, which was a target for bombing during the Indochina War. Nowadays, unexploded ordnances (UXO) still remain in the area and form obstacles for local livelihoods which killed numerous locals every year in accidents from scrap metal collection.
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