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FLORA & FAUNA
Laos has one of the most pristine natural landscapes in Southeast Asia. An estimated half of its woodlands consist of primary forest, in particular the tropical rainforest. Unlike the vegetation that grows in the climate of Europe and the United States, tropical rainforest is composed of three vegetative layers. The top layer features single-trucked, high-reaching trees called dipterocarps. The middle canopy consists of hardwood such as teak. Beneath, small trees, grass and sometimes bamboo can be found.

In addition to its fascinating vegetation, Laos plays host to a diverse animal kingdom. Several exotic mammals are endemic such as leopard cats, Javan mongoose, goat antelopes as well as rare species of gibbons and linger, Malayan sun bear, Asiatic black bear and gaur. The discovery of the Saola Ox, a breed of deer-antelope, in Vietnam a few years ago caused a great sensation. This extremely rare animal inhabits the Eastern border regions of Laos. It is thought that these remote areas probably still hide other unknown species.

In Southern Laos, near Khong Island, Irrawaddy dolphins inhabit the Mekong River. While many species of wildlife are shy and can rarely be seen, spectators will generally be able to spot the dolphins in Springtime when the water level of the Mekong is lowest. Laos is also rich in resident and migrating birds. One of the more notable ones is the rare Green Peafowl. 

Laos is home to over one hundred species of large mammals. Many of these are familiar Asian species such as Tiger, Asian Elephant and Gaur (a species of wild cattle). Lao also holds an impressive diversity of primates including five species of gibbon, five species of macaque and four species of leaf monkey including the incredibly beautiful Douc Langur.

In recent years Lao has received international attention after the discovery of an incredible variety of species new to science. These recent discoveries include the Saola, a strange and beautiful forest dwelling antelope like creature, many small deer species known as muntjacs, a small striped rabbit and a completely new family of rodent known locally as the Kha-nyou that is closely related to porcupines.

In addition to mammals, Lao supports over 165 species of amphibians and reptiles including such impressive species as Rock and Burmese Pythons, King cobras and the large and noisy Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) a formidable resident of many Lao houses.

Opportunities to view this incredible diversity of wildlife are steadily growing. A long history of market and subsistence hunting has depressed many wildlife populations across the country. The increase in ecotourism and traveler’s interest in viewing wildlife now provides positive financial reinforcement for residents to conserve many of these species.

Laos does have some of the best to offer in the entire world in terms of wildlife and biodiversity. However, many wildlife species are threatened by illegal hunting and the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. The Lao government takes these offenses very seriously and ask that you refrain from purchasing wildlife and wildlife products.