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LAOS
Plants and Animals

Plants and Animals

Plants

More than half of Laos is covered with subtropical forests. For economic reasons, about 300,000 ha of forest are cut down every year. Teak and other hardwoods are the most popular types of wood, as well as Asian rosewood.

In the north one finds forests which somewhat resemble European forest types. Dipterocarpus forests are found in the drier areas of central and southern Laos, and valuable djati forests are found in the province of Sayaboury, on the border with Thailand. Seen from above, the jungle is almost unbroken. Here and there some larger trees stand out, including the tapang, which can grow up to 75 metres high. Coconut palm, betel palm and hornbeam also grow in the rainforest.

Approximately 25% of the country's surface is covered with savannahs, grasslands and swamps.

The most famous plant in Laos is of course the poppy, from which opium is extracted on a large scale. The opium is extracted from the milk juice contained in the seed pod of the poppy.

Laos has many bamboo species, the most in the world after China and Thailand.

Animals

In Laos, there are only about 500 wild Indian elephants left. That is not much if you consider that Laos was once known as Lane Xang, 'land of a million elephants'. Furthermore, there are still all kinds of large mammals living in the primeval forests of Laos, such as tigers, leopards, bears (Asiatic black bear), wild cats, wild dogs, gibbons, small panda, Malayan tapir, plump lori, antelopes, chamois, deer and in the south freshwater dolphins.

Also noteworthy is the large number of bat species, 69 different species. There are also 16 species of squirrels, several of which are threatened with extinction. The largest mammal after the elephant is the gaur, a wild animal that weighs more than 1,000 kg, making it the largest cattle in the world.

The very endangered kouprey is a species of cattle that was only discovered in 1937, and is probably related to the gaur and the banteng. This wild cattle lives in small herds in a very limited area in North-East Cambodia, South Laos and West Vietnam, on both sides of the Mekong River. The goral is a type of goat-antelope.

Special is the colugo, a grey-green lemur species. The colugo can make glides of more than 60 metres.

The small Asian linsang belongs to the genus Genus.

Laos is home to about 450 species of birds, several dozen of which are threatened with extinction.

A random selection: drongo, nightingale, timalia, hornbill, buzzard, Siamese fire-back pheasant, green peacock, giant ibis, Sarus crane, yellow-belliedbay weaver, yellow-legged owl, the almost extinct red-collared woodpecker.

In general, the Southeast Asian wildlife is still very little known, and that is also true of Laos. A few years ago, for example, the spotted shrew, a small fawn, a small warthog species, a two-horned rhinoceros, several species of rat, the Annamese hare and a new species of squirrel were discovered. In 2006 the Loatian rock rat (Laonastes aenigmamus), thought to be extinct, was found in Laos. The Loatian rock rat is known to be the only remaining representative of its species, the Laonastidae, a rodent believed by scientists to have last occurred in southern Asia and Japan 11 million years ago.

Laos is home to about 450 species of birds, several dozen of which are threatened with extinction.

A random selection: drongo, nightingale, timalia, hornbill, buzzard, Siamese fire-back pheasant, green peacock, giant ibis, Sarus crane, yellow-belliedbay weaver, yellow-legged owl, the almost extinct red-collared woodpecker.

In general, the Southeast Asian wildlife is still very little known, and that is also true of Laos. A few years ago, for example, the spotted shrew, a small fawn, a small warthog species, a two-horned rhinoceros, several species of rat, the Annamese hare and a new species of squirrel were discovered. In 2006 the Loatian rock rat (Laonastes aenigmamus), thought to be extinct, was found in Laos. The Loatian rock rat is known to be the only remaining representative of its species, the Laonastidae, a rodent believed by scientists to have last occurred in southern Asia and Japan 11 million years ago.


Sources

Boon, H. / Laos : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur, milieu
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen

Cummings, J. / Laos
Lonely Planet

Te gast in Laos & Cambodja
Informatie Verre Reizen

Waard, P. de / Laos
Elmar

Zickgraf, R. / Laos
Chelsea House Publishers

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated January 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info