With Its Environmental Crisis, Is Laos Missing The Forest For The Trees?

Laos’ reputation as having some of the most lush and diverse forests in the Mekong remains under serious threat after a December investigation by government officials found evidence of large-scale illegal logging operations in the southern Attapeu province, despite recent efforts to end the practice. Laos, which is left with just 40 percent of the country covered by closed canopy forests, is facing an environmental crisis with much of the remaining forests unhealthy and degraded.

Read more

Is Mekong River Set To Become The New South China Sea For Regional Disputes?

Foreign ministers from the six countries through which the Mekong flows met in southwestern China last month to approve a draft of a five-year development plan for the river. But as state leaders prepare to finalise the proposal at a meeting in Cambodia later this month, environmental groups have expressed concern over what it could mean for Southeast Asia’s longest waterway.

Read more

Laos Faces US&EU Trade Suspensions Over Wildlife Trade

At SC69, Laos’ non-compliance was the subject of a working group in which EIA and other NGOs participated. The U.S. called for Laos to face full trade suspensions now, while the EU favored a warning and a time-bound process for specific remedial action to ensure Laos sets up proper CITES authorities and takes action to stop trade in parts and products of tigers (including farmed tigers), elephants, rhinos, pangolins and other wildlife.

Read more

How Laos’ Black Market Undermines China’s Ivory Ban

As tour buses pull up in front of San Jiang Market, not far from Wattay International Airport, a guide beckons to a group of Chinese tourists. They soon disappear into the jungle of shops bearing signs in Chinese characters, many of which sell “local specialties,” or any illicit wildlife product imaginable.

Read more

More Than A Thousand Furniture Plants Ordered To Shut Down

The government has ordered some 1,154 family-unit furniture plants across the country to shut down their illegal operations, a government spokesman announced yesterday.
Additionally, more than 20 wood processing plants located in or near conservation and protected forests areas were also ordered to close down.
The order was approved at …..

Read more

Typhoon Hit Roads Thwart Travellers

Many sections of main roads in central and northern provinces have been blocked or collapsed following landslides caused by the effects of Typhoon Dianmu on the weekend.
Roads falling away or being blocked have hindered buses and other vehicles making their way along major northern routes causing lengthy delays.
In response, local public works and transport sectors are …..

Read more

Public Warned To Be On Alert After Mekong River Rise

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Meteorology and Hydrology Department has warned people who live along the banks of the Mekong River from the north to the south to be on alert due to rising river levels.
The warning came out yesterday after the Mekong’s water levels increased rapidly and some people’s rice fields and crops were flooded yesterday but the situation is still ….

Read more

Authorities Make Fresh Call For Aquatic Life Protection

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Livestock and Fisheries Department has once again asked fishermen to help preserve protected wildlife and aquatic species in Laos.
The warning comes in the wake of an image of a fisherman with a giant Mekong Stingray being posted on Facebook this week.
The ray measuring over 2 metres across and estimated at over 70 kg in weight was caught recently by a ….

Read more

‘Horrific’ First Amphibious Centipede Discovered

This giant, venomous creepy-crawly is as comfortable swimming and walking underwater as it is on land, in a finding that surprised scientists.
Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water—look out for giant, swimming centipedes!
Scientists have recently described the world’s first known amphibious centipede. It belongs to a group of giant centipedes called ….

Read more

Khonphapheng Waterfall Recorded As The World Largest

Khonephapheng Waterfall in Khong district of Champassak province has been recorded as the world largest waterfall, according to the website of www.worldwaterfalldatabase.com.
World Waterfall Database lists the world’s largest waterfalls by width and ranks Laos’ natural wonder on top. The representative list contains those known to have an average width of at least …..

Read more

Lao Government Appoints Committee to Enforce Timber Export Ban

Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith this week appointed an ad hoc committee to enforce a nationwide ban on illegal logging within 60 days and block and prevent timber from leaving the country after some provinces were found to have violated a logging ban.
The committee consists of high-ranking officials from government inspection agencies and anti-corruption organizations, along with the ministries of …..

Read more

Drought Is Unlikely To Ease Its Grip On Laos Anytime Soon

The drought gripping Laos and other Southeast Asian countries will continue unabated for at least a few more weeks as 100-degree temperatures push the rainy season back even further, Laos top weather forecaster told RFA.
“Over the next two weeks, the temperature will be from, 38-40 degrees Celsius (100-104 degrees Fahrenheit), and it will influence provinces from central to …..

Read more

Mekong Damns Leave Vietnam and Cambodia High and Dry

As Vietnam suffers its worst drought in nearly a century and Cambodia faces a water shortage that could jeopardise the livelihoods of 1.5 million people, debates have been reignited over the mega dams built along the Mekong.
Once referred to as ‘one of the world’s last great stretches of undammed river‘, the Mekong could well become one of the most dammed rivers in Asia. By 2030, 70 dams will …..

Read more

Venomous Predators: Giant Red Centipede

I’ve had them all in my garden: snakes, spiders, scorpions and other creepy crawleys… but recently, after 11 years in Laos, I came face to face with a new and truly scary species: the Giant Red Centipede (Scolopendra subspinipes).
When I saw it crawling around I was totally dismayed that such a creature might be living in my yard…. and actually I noticed it under my dining table (inside the house) while having dinner ! Yes, these guys are predators and are highly venomous … this one was probably looking for a big dinner himself ….

Read more

Mekong Body Risks Losing Funds: Donors

The Mekong River Commission must “urgently” clarify how it will restructure and fund itself in the future or risk donors pulling out, development partners said yesterday, as it emerged funding for the intergovernmental body would likely be “much lower” than the MRC had anticipated.
Following three days of meetings in the Laotian capital, Vientiane, the MRC’s development partners released a joint statement calling for more information on “critical” reforms to its governing bodies.
The statement – endorsed by Australia, the European Union, …..

Read more

Forecasters Warn Of Further Widespread Flooding

Weather forecasters have warned many provinces to anticipate flooding tomorrow (Saturday), especially Borikhamxay province, as the Mekong is expected to rise above the designated warning level.
According to a warning posted yesterday on the Meteorology and Hydrology Department’s website, the Mekong is rising rapidly following prolonged heavy rainfall.
The official danger level in Vientiane is 12.50 metres and although the river had reached …..

Read more

Laos Overlooked In Ivory Trade Blitz

The Suvarnabhumi airport bust last April weighed out at four tonnes for 700 elephant tusks, the biggest illegal ivory seizure in Thai history. It now has emerged the shipment was bound for Vientiane and Laos officials intervened to try to stop the seizure.
But there was a major omission in the operation, which took place over the past four months and uncovered more than 1,300 elephant tusks: There was no cooperation with and no arrests in the country to which ….

Read more

Southeast Asia Drought Forces Farmers to Leave Fields Unplanted

A severe lack of rain and higher-than-normal temperatures in parts of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have caused some farmers to leave their fields and rice paddies unplanted, sources inside the developing Southeast Asian countries said.
Farmers in Ha Tinh province in central Vietnam have been forced to leave their fields unplanted because of the drought, said a farmer surnamed Dan from Kỳ Anh, a rural district in ….

Read more

5.0 Earthquake Shakes Landlocked Laos

Despite never having recorded a tragedy on the scale of the recent earthquake in Nepal, Laos is also at risk of earthquakes in the future, according to an earthquake specialist.
A technical official said Laos had experienced a quake of 5.0 magnitude at around 1am on Wednesday.
The 5.0 magnitude earthquake which shook the area between Borikhamxay and XiengKhuang provinces was detected but no damage has ……

Read more

28 New Species Discovered In Laos: WWF

A soul-sucking ‘dementor’ wasp, a stealthy wolf snake and the world’s second longest insect are among the 139 new species discovered by scientists in the Greater Mekong region in 2014, including 28 species in Laos.
The species are described in a new report, “Magical Mekong”, released yesterday by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
The species in Laos include 17 plants, 9 reptiles, one mammal and one fish. According to the report, of particular interest is the …..

Read more

Plastic Wastes A Challenge To Increasingly Prosperous Laos

Like many other cities of the world, the Laotian capital, with its improving economy and standard of living, is not spared from the scourge of urban living: the proliferation of plastics and products bottled or wrapped in plastics.
The biggest problem is that wrappers or bottles made of plastic materials are carelessly thrown just about anywhere. Most of them end up clogging canals and waterways or polluting the waters of the mighty Mekong River.
Hundreds of tons of garbage, that include plastic materials, are being scavenged in the whole city every day. And these include refuse from the ……

Read more

Blooming Champa Awaiting To Amaze Visitors This Weekend

Lao frangipani collector Dr Outhaki Chounlamany-Khamphoui will officially open her impressive garden tomorrow to visitors after spending many years collecting different frangipani species from around the world.
The Amazing Champa Blooming 2015 will feature 5,000 beautiful frangipani trees with more than 200 species from around the world, along with singing and dance performances, poetry readings plus stalls and other activities during the …..

Read more

Harnessing The Mekong Or Killing It ?

Dams are rising all along the Mekong. The people of Southeast Asia need the clean electricity—but also the fish and rice that an undammed river provides.
Pumee Boontom lives in northern Thailand, but he tunes his television to the Chinese weather forecast. A big storm in southern China means a big release of water from the Chinese dams upstream—and, in turn, a good chance his village will be flooded. The Chinese government is supposed to warn downstream ….

Read more

Mekong River Dolphin Death Reduces Lao Population To Five

The discovery of a deceased female Irrawaddy river dolphin on Cheutal Touch Island, Cambodia – close to the border with Laos – is yet another reminder of the plight of this critically endangered cetacean in the Mekong River, WWF said on Tuesday. With just five animals remaining in Laos, WWF urged Laos and Cambodia to work together on common solutions to save one of the world’s most iconic species and a major source of ……

Read more

Tiger Meat And Bear Paws On Menu For Chinese Tourists In Laos

A resort complex in northwest Laos targeting Chinese visitors has become a “lawless playground” for the trade in illegal wildlife ranging from tiger meat to bear paws, an advocacy group said Thursday.
Customers “can openly buy endangered species products” in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone on the border between Laos, Myanmar and ….

Read more

The Elephant Caravan Laos 2015

A team of 12 elephants will walk about 630 km across the Xayaboury and Luang Prabang provinces, passing through elephant populated areas and cultural sites and disseminating both environmental education material and art performances in towns and villages.
Elephants are a source of pride for the Lao people and it is urgent to reactivate the public support for the species. On the road, the caravan will stop daily in villages it crosses. Theater, music and performances will be ….

Read more

Severe Storm Hits Homes, Firms, Schools In Vientiane

Heavy rain and strong winds lashed Vientiane’s Hadxaifong district yesterday morning, damaging hundreds of homes, restaurants and buildings alike.
The storm began early morning at around 5am and lasted for about 30 minutes leaving minor injuries and hundreds of houses and buildings without roofs or power. Over 563 households in total 13 villages were affected by heavy rain, hail stones and …..

Read more

Mekong Swimmer ‘Drowns’ In Trash

Six months after Frenchman Remi Camus ended his six-month, 4,400-kilometre swim down the Mekong River in Vietnam’s Tien Giang province last year, he has returned to seek partners for his initiative to collect rubbish dumped in the world’s 10th-longest river.
While in Ho Chi Minh City, the 30-year-old former restaurant manager attended the VietWater exhibition, looking for “someone crazy like me” who would support his initiative to collect pieces of plastic and aluminium cans in the river.
Remi also showed students at local schools and universities pictures he’d taken during …..

Read more

Laos Implicated in High-Value Illegal Wildlife Seizures

An international wildlife trade monitoring group says Laos has been linked to several high-value seizures of illegal wildlife, asking authorities in the Southeast Asian state to beef up vigilance at its airports.
Traffic, the U.K.-based nongovernmental organization that tracks the illegal wildlife trade in Asia, made the call Tuesday following the seizure of rare baby tortoises en route to Laos at ….

Read more

Thailand Places A Coal Plant In Laos

To feed its growing hunger for fuel, Thailand is close to completing one of Southeast Asia’s largest coal-fired power plants. The location? Just over the border in Laos.
The $3.7 billion project can supply power for two million households in Thailand. But heavy resistance to toxic emissions from burning coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, has prompted power companies there to build it in Laos, where standards and opposition are …..

Read more

Laos Sends Four Elephants To Japan

The Lao government dispatched four elephants to Japan on Sunday as a special gift to Tokyo Zoo, where it is hoped they will be productive breeding partners.
The gift was in recognition of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Laos and Japan next year.
The elephants and their mahouts travelled with Japanese technicians in a specially designed Japanese aircraft, with an official handover of the animals to ….

Read more

British Stars Speak Out Against Dog-Meat Trade’s Cruelty

Thailand’s Soi Dog Foundation has some of the biggest stars in Britain speaking out against the dog-meat trade in a video that starts with a warning about its “distressing” content.
Dame Judi Dench, Ricky Gervais and two of the stars of the international-hit series “Downton Abbey” – Laura Carmichael and Phyllis Logan – give voice to the “I Never Knew” campaign in the moving (and, yes, distressing) three-minute video that drives home what you probably didn’t want to know. But of course you should know …

Read more

Laos On Alert As China Releases Deluge of Water from Mekong Dam

Huge volumes of water being discharged from a hydropower dam on the Mekong River in southern China’s Yunnan province have placed the country’s downstream neighbors on high alert amid concerns over possible flash floods.
Officials in Laos, Thailand and Cambodian are closely monitoring levels of the Southeast Asian artery after being informed by Beijing that the 1,750-megawatt Jinghong dam will drain water from its ….

Read more

Vientiane Plans To Solve The Flooding Problem

The Vientiane Urban Development and Administration Authority is currently working hard to clear drainage channels and storm water drains around the city in order to prevent further flash flooding during the wet season.
Every year when the rainy season arrives a number of main roads around Vientiane are blighted by flash flooding, which causes extensive damage to the properties of people who ….

Read more

More Crocodile Sightings Reported In Champassak

Local people from Huayngeun village, Pathoumphone district in Champassak province have reported more sightings of a crocodile which was blamed for having killed a baby in May.
The suspected crocodile attack is reported to have taken place on May 8, when 47 year-old Ms Soudchai Saiyasarn was knocked unconscious while her two year old daughter was killed.
“Local people have seen it many times and the most recent occasion was on June 12. Local villagers reported to me that …

Read more

Nam Xong River Waste Dumping Has Decreased After Backpacker Parties Shut Down

The amount of garbage in the Nam Xong River has dropped from 70 tonnes to 40 tonnes this year after the government closed down backpacker parties along river in 2012.
But the release of waste water into the river remains a problem as authorities are working hard to keep the river clear and clean enough for swimming and bathing.
Each year a round 70-80 tonnes of rubbish were dumped into the river from tourist parties with both domestic and foreign tourists not properly disposing of food packaging and ….

Read more

Public Concerned Lao Forests Will Be Left With No Big Trees

People are seeing scores of wood trucks on the roads every day in some parts of the country, prompting concerns that Lao’s forests may soon be stripped of all big trees.
Most of the trucks look overloaded and some do not display number plates, leading to suspicions of illegal timber trading.
“Logging is not taking place in all the woodlands of the country as the public think,” Deputy Director of the Forestry Department …..

Read more

Child Killed And Woman Injured By Crocodile: Champassak

A two-year old was killed by a crocodile in the Mekong River in southern Champassak province last Thursday while her mother sustained injuries to her right eye, according to a recent Champa Mai report.
The newspaper reported that on May 8, Ms Chai, aged 47, from Pathoumphone district accompanied her children down to the Mekong River to take a bath.
Unknown to her, there was a crocodile nearby which struck out with ……

Read more

Aftershocks From Thai Earthquake Create Fear In Laos

No one in Bokeo province was hurt by an earthquake that killed one person and injured several others in Thailand on Monday, although tremors were felt.
The 6.3 magnitude quake that struck northern Thailand created fear amongst the local people living along the Lao border with Thailand but there was no serious damage caused.
Villagers in Bokeo, especially along the borders, directly experienced the first tremor that occurred on Monday and Tuesday which was followed by numerous …..

Read more

Strong 6.0-Magnitude Quake Rattles Northern Thailand

A strong and shallow earthquake rattled northern Thailand on Monday afternoon, shaking tall buildings in Bangkok hundreds of miles to the south.
The 6.0-magnitude quake, at a depth of just 7.4 kilometres (4.5 miles), hit just after 6 pm (1100 GMT), the US Geological Survey said. The epicentre was around 27 kilometres from the mountainous city of Chiang Rai. As darkness fell a Thai official warned residents in Chiang Rai province to brace for …..

Read more

Captive Elephants In Laos Face Extinction

The captive elephant population in Laos will be extinct in just over a century if current management practices do not change, a University of Queensland study has found.
It is estimated that only 480 captive elephants remain across Laos, and the study shows that changes to conservation management are necessary to prevent extinction.
“Elephant ownership has long been associated with Lao culture and national …..

Read more

Laos Welcomes Comments On Don Sahong Dam

The government has made a strong commitment to address the concerns of environmentalists over the potential impacts of the Don Sahong Hydropower Project.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines on Friday held a workshop, when the developers of the 260MW power project explained what they will do to address the potential impacts of Laos’ second dam on the Mekong.
Environmentalists from the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and various NGOs in Laos and neighbouring countries were present at the event. The workshop provided project developers with the opportunity to receive comments from environmentalists as part of efforts to ….

Read more

Illegal Timber Trade The Focus Of Economic Police

Some 257 cases involving the illegal trading of timber were discovered in 2013, topping the year’s list of fraud or economic-related cases, according to economic police.The police officers in charge of economic affairs registered 559 cases in total over the past year, an increase of 311 or 61.22 percent compared to 2012.
Of the cases found, illegal trading of wood represented the largest number followed by 134 cases involving fraud over citizens’ assets and 53 cases related to embezzling state and citizens’ assets, among other …..

Read more

Coldest Weather in Years Freezes Laos

The coldest weather in years froze provinces across Laos with northern regions suffering most from the extreme weather conditions.
Two northern provinces of Huapahn and Xieng Khuang, along with newly established central province of Xaysomboun, saw minus temperatures yesterday – the first time this year and for many years.
Xieng Khuang experienced the coldest with minus 2.2 Celsius, followed by Xaysomboun that saw the mercury plunge to minus 2 Celsius, while Samneua district of Huaphanh province recorded …..

Read more

Elephants in Laos Under Threat

Conservationists have expressed concern over the decline in the elephant population in Laos due to overwork and poaching.
Laos recently was named as a major source for the illicit ivory trade bought by foreign tourists and this is one of the main factors that have put the elephant population at risk.
ElefantAsia, an organisation that provides medical care to Lao elephants, told the elephant population had been declining every year. Currently, there are 450 domestic elephants nationwide. Xayaboury is believed to have the highest number of elephants in the country, but every year they are facing a tough situation with animals getting overworked, sometimes even ……

Read more

US Posts $1 Million Reward Targeting Laos Poaching Ring

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday offered a $1 million reward to help smash a Laos-based poaching network slaughtering endangered elephants and rhinos for their precious horns and tusks.
The reward, the first of its kind by the State Department, targeted the Xaysavang network which operates from Laos as far afield as South Africa, Mozambique, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and China.
“The involvement of sophisticated transnational criminal organizations in wildlife trafficking perpetuates corruption, threatens the rule of law and border security in fragile….

Read more

Coping With Volatile Weather In Laos

The frequent but low-impact disasters in Laos, home to just 6.1 million inhabitants, are seldom in the limelight compared with neighbouring flood-prone Thailand to the west, cyclone-hit Myanmar in the northwest, and earthquake-susceptible China to the north.
The disasters in Laos appear puny in comparison, but increasingly volatile weather conditions are taking a toll on the 80 percent of the population who do not live in the capital, Vientiane, and depend on natural resources for survival. They are dispersed across three widely diverse geographical environments in the North, Central, and Southern regions, which range from forested mountains to low-lying alluvial plains.
“The climate diversity between the north, central and southern regions of Laos means that communities in each area face different risks associated with climate instability, with a uniform consequence on ……

Read more

Laos, Three Neighbours Pledge To Stop Dog Meat Trade

Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are trying to save dogs, supposedly man’s best friend, from restaurants in Vietnam, where they have most favoured meat status.
The four governments agreed in principle to put an end to the trade in dogs for human consumption at a recent meeting in Hanoi, with a pledge to interdict the trafficking of canines from one country to another for the next five years.
The move, if successful, could save an estimate five million dogs from being slaughtered and eaten each year, according to …..

Read more

The Incredible Lao Scorpion Which Glows Blue

Transformed by the flick of a switch: The incredible scorpion which is black in daylight but glows BLUE under UV light
The scorpion is better known as the Laos Black Forest Scorpion and is a particularly aggressive species when threatened. Scientists are not sure why the predatory arthropod glows blue, but there are various theories as to why it could be.
The scientists believe that the scorpions cannot see UV light so would be unable to tell whether it was a bright night. Therefore, they …..

Read more

Scientists Discover New Flying Mammal In Lao Bushmeat Market

The bushmeat markets of Lao PDR (Laos) are filled with racks of wild game harvested both legally and illegally from the surrounding landscapes. While these meat markets certainly provide local protein to patrons, for wildlife biologists they offer something more. These bizarre zoological exhibits are a rich source of information about wildlife populations and wildlife consumption in remote areas.
In September 2012, a team from the National University of Laos surveyed markets in central Lao PDR for squirrels. In one of the many small markets, Master’s student Daosavanh Sanamxay found something remarkable, a single specimen of a flying squirrel previously undescribed to science. The researchers described this newly discovered species in a 2013 Zootaxa publication, giving it the English name: the Laotian ……

Read more

The Forests Of Lao Are Safe, For Now

The government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic have announced another two areas that are being reserved as national conservation biodiversity areas. This brings the number within the country to an impressive 24. The two new areas singled out, are Phou Hiphi national conservation forest in Oudomsay Province, and Laving-Lavuen conservation forest in Savannakhet province. The former is 87,000 ha in area whilst the latter has a total area of 86,000 ha.
The government announced a while back that it intended to increase its area of forest coverage from 41% to 65% before 2015. This drive for conservation and forestry is seen as a good move by all concerned. Conservationists are …..

Read more

Laos & Philippines Ready To Plug Into Electric Vehicles

Laos and the Philippines are keen to introduce electric vehicles and make EV production their key industry in the future, a development that may benefit auto-makers from Japan.
In Laos, which has abundant hydroelectric power, electricity charges are half of those in Thailand. The Laos government is implementing a project to convert 40 per cent of the nation’s motorcycles, tricycles and four-wheel vehicles into EVs by 2020 with the ….

Read more

Laos: The Tiger’s Last Home In Indochina

The only place in Indochina where tigers can naturally survive and breed outside zoos is in Laos, specifically in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area where the continuing presence of the tiger testifies to the richness of the natural biodiversity in the area.
‘The last home for tigers in Indochina’ is a campaign designed to create awareness of the need for tiger protection in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area (NPA).
The NPA has a total land area of 420,000 hectares, of which 300,000 is maintained under extreme protection, covering …..

Read more

Vietnam Firms Involved In Massive ‘Illegal Land Grabs’ In Laos And Cambodia: BBC

An environmental group has accused two Vietnamese rubber firms of involvement in massive land grabs in Cambodia and Laos.
In its report, Global Witness said HAGL and Vietnam Rubber Group had been allocated over 280,000 hectares for rubber plantations in the countries. Residents had been evicted and offered inadequate or no compensation, it said. It described the companies’ operations as leaving “a trail of environmental and social devastation”.
There is now a well-documented pattern of land disputes in both rural and urban Cambodia, where poorer residents are evicted from land they may have lived on for many years to make way for development projects. These projects are usually run by wealthy entrepreneurs connected to …..

Read more

Illegal Dog Meat Trafficking; Laos, Vietnam and Thailand

Tha Rae, a small town whose name means “butcher village”, is located in the northeast Thai province of Sakhon Nakhon and it’s a hub for the region’s multi-million dollar illegal dog trafficking industry. About 150km of Laos separates the province from central Vietnam, from where the animals make their way up to Hanoi to fetch as much as $10 per kilogram of dog meat – two to three times as much as pork.
Dog meat is illegal in Thailand. It is not illegal in Vietnam, but the importation of dogs for consumption from abroad is. Defying the law, at least 10,000 – and by some estimates as many as 30,000 – dogs are smuggled from Thailand through Laos to Vietnam each month to feed a popular industry …….

Read more

New EU Timber Regulation Comes Into Force

A new European Union (EU) regulation coming into effect to counter the trade in illegal timber will affect everyone in the wood trade sector exporting to the European market, including Laos.
This new EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) prohibits illegally harvested timber on the European market in an effort to tackle the problem of illegal logging across the world. Although volumes of Lao timber that flow directly to Europe are relatively small, large amounts of raw timber from Laos get processed in Vietnam before being …..

Read more

Laos Plunges Into Choppy Political Waters

LAOS, one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries, is rarely in the role of power player in the region. The landlocked nation draws easy comparisons to a diplomatic backwater when set against Thailand, its more economically robust neighbour to the west. It is also overshadowed by Vietnam, a politically assertive eastern neighbour, which, like Laos, is ruled by a communist party.
Yet what happened last Monday on Mekong River — the region’s largest body of water shared by six countries, including Laos, Thailand and Vietnam — suggests a shift in the political currents …..

Read more

Mekong ‘Hydro Diplomacy’ Falling Short

Experts at a conference in Chiang Rai held out hope that future transborder water conflicts such as the one over Laos’ Xayaburi dam will be dealt with in a more inclusive and sustainable manner, but the concept is still in its infancy in the region.
At the conference, Dr Robert Mather, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said the Xayaburi dam project has shown that a shared vision on water resources does not exist in the Mekong region. Each country still looks out only for its own interests and not at sharing benefits in development opportunities.
“If we apply the concept of hydro diplomacy to the Mekong situation, we may have more choices other than ….

Read more

Riding A Motorbike Really Is The Best Way To Travel In Laos…

You’re free to travel at your own pace and speed, you can stop anywhere you like without arriving in a vehicle as big as someone’s house, and in a country like this, with so many remote places to explore, a motorbike can handle tracks that buses and cars don’t go to. (As long as you’re not worried about getting a little dirty or sweaty sometimes!)
When you have a good motorcycle in Laos, it’s like having an all-access pass to the best theme park on the planet. The roads become a roller coaster through stunning scenery and all of a sudden you are smiling from ear to ear and your brain is overloaded with every shade of green and brown and blue, as the dirt roads, the …..

Read more

Bleak Future For Elephants In Laos

There is no doubt that the elephant populations in Laos, both wild and captive, are in rapid decline. With as few as 470 captive elephants and a lesser number estimated in the wild, the future of this endangered species within Laos is bleak and as such every elephant is significant to its very survival.
The Asian elephant population in Laos faces its own battle against the threat of extinction. Currently the elephant birth rate in Laos is on average 4-5 births per annum opposed to 15 deaths, a trend which indicates the population is not sustainable.
Unquestionably Laos needs to protect its national heritage, and the country needs to safeguard its elephant populations with particular emphasis on its genetic reservoir. This reservoir is imperative to the survival of the species in Laos.

Read more

Lao Sticky Rice Wine With A Potent Bite

Forget eating the worm after downing your tequila – with these bottles of unusual wine produced in Laos, a tasty tipple comes with a far more potent bite. This potion, known as lao bong ya, is believed to ward off evil spirits and cure the sick.
Because snake venoms are protein-based, they are inactivated by the denaturing effects of ethanol, and thus are no more dangerous, meaning you’ll avoid a pounding hangover.

Read more

Four-Legged Snake Found In Vientiane

A strange reptile that looks like a cross between a snake and a lizard was recently found outside central Vientiane.

The reptile looks similar to a snake with a long body but it also has four legs and moves like a lizard. The bizarre animal was found in Phonmee village, Pakngum district, Vientiane. The animal is over 30 cm in length, has very short legs, has striped and scaled skin like a snake and a thumbnail sized head.

Read more