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Endangered Fish Species Found In Central Laos

Source: Vientiane Times

Luciocyprinus striolatus (locally known as pakang), one of fish species that are high risk of global extinction, have been found in the reservoir of the Nam Theun 2 hydropower plant in central Laos.

Large areas of the reservoir form part of the Nakai-Nam Theun National Park in Khammuan province, one of the last remaining wildernesses in Southeast Asia and the most diverse ecosystem in Laos.

Director of the Park Management Division, Mr Outhay Vongsa, told Vientiane Times on Thursday that the pakang, known in English as a striped pikecarp, is one of the biggest freshwater fish in Laos. It is believed that there are less than 100 of these huge fish in the Nam Theun 2 reservoir, although this is only a rough estimate.

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“However, we have found smaller pakang fish in the reservoir where five conservation zones have been created to protect this species from extinction,” Mr Outhay said.

“We plan to study the DNA of pakang and learn more about its habitat and how it lives, as well as determine the size of the fish population.” 

A local resident, Mr Phosy Viyo, said pakang weighing as much as 100-200kg have been found in deep areas of the Nam Theun 2 reservoir.

In the past, pakang were plentiful in the Nam Theun region and villagers would eat this fish, but now large ones are very rare.

Mr Phosy said pakang typically spawn in places where the water flow is good, but they also live in deep pools. This fish usually eats other smaller fish species in the reservoir.

“I saw a pakang in the Nam Theun 2 reservoir once. It was so big that when it moved  through the water it created a wave big enough to capsize a small boat,” he said.