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Borikhamxay Plans to Open Up Nam Kading Protected Area for Ecotourism

Source: Vientiane Times

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is providing technical support for the management of the Nam Kading National Protected Area in Borikhamxay province in plans to use some areas for ecotourism.

The nonprofit organisation, whose aim is to conserve wildlife in Laos, particularly endangered species, believes this initiative will be a game changer in combating the illegal wildlife trade because it would provide local people currently engaged in the trade with alternative jobs and income.

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According to the Deputy Head of the Nam Kading National Protected Area, Mr. Khao Sengmany, with support from the WCS, the tourism programme has been under assessment for some time and will be rolled out in the near future.

“Transformation of the area for ecotourism is still at an early stage. There will be more discussions with stakeholders, in particular tourism authorities, on how to put the concept into practice,” he told a group of Lao and Vietnamese journalists.

The group of 20 journalists gathered in Borikhamxay from March 20-24 to share their experiences in covering illegal wildlife trafficking. The event was made possible thanks to collaboration between the Forest Inspection Department and the Lao Journalists’ Association, with support from the WCS.

The media event is part of a project called Ecosystem Conservation through Integrated Landscape Management in the Lao PDR funded by the AFD, the EU, and the GIZ.

Mr. Khao said the ecotourism activities under consideration in the protected area include boat trips to Kaengbid village, then a cruise to the Nam Kading National Protected Area, before a walk through the jungle to Sanam waterfall.

Other planned activities include a boat cruise from Viengthong district to the Houypasong area, then a cruise on the Nam Theun reservoir as far as the Nam Theun 1 dam and hydropower station.

A feasibility study conducted on the programme indicated that there is also potential for the introduction of kayaking from Kaengbid village to the Kaeng Luang area so that visitors can experience the glories of nature, camp out, hear gibbons calling, and watch for wild animals.

Deputy Director of WCS Laos, Mrs. Manoly Sisavanh, said Borikhamxay has surefire potential for tourism because it is the gateway to Laos’ southern provinces and Vientiane and also shares borders with Thailand and Vietnam.

Last year, the WCS brought ecotourism experts who worked alongside Nam Kading National Protected Area authorities to survey the area and assess the potential for tourism, she said.

Mrs. Manoly said the WCS is providing technical support for the Lao authorities to formulate regulations to ensure that commercial activities in the protected area will not harm ecosystems and biodiversity and, especially, will help to protect wildlife.