annamites endemics

Re:wilding the Annamites

The Annamites, a rugged mountain chain on the border of Vietnam and Laos, harbors some of the world’s most threatened and least-known mammal species, several of which are found nowhere else on the planet. The mountain chain is divided into two Ecoregions, one in the north and one in the south, within the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot and contains many Key Biodiversity Areas.

Several of the species endemic to the Annamites were only recently discovered by science. The Saola is one of them: a type of wild cattle and one of the rarest animals on Earth. It’s so rare scientists have never actually seen one in the wild. The Large-antlered Muntjac and the Annamite Striped Rabbit are also recent discoveries. Another rare animal appeared in 2019: as part of the Search for Lost Species, Re:wild and the Southern Institute of Ecology and Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research rediscovered the Silver-backed Chevrotain, which had not been seen in 29 years. These tiny fanged “mouse deer” are the smallest hoofed animals in the world.

Top photo: A camera trap of an Owston's Civet, a small carnivorous mammal with an incredibly small population, largely only found in the Annamites of Laos and Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of Leibniz-IZW/WWF-Laos CarBi project/Xe Sap NPA)

A camera trap photo of a Silver-backed Chevrotain in Vietnam. (SIE/Re:wild/Leibniz-IZW/NCNP)

The Annamites are a hotspot for turtle diversity as well, but almost every species—whether softshell turtle, terrapin, or tortoise—is threatened with extinction. The mountain range is also important to the global effort to save amphibians, and is home to two amphibian centers of diversity at Ngoc Linh Nature Reserves and Bidoup Nui Ba National Park.

Poaching is an epidemic in the Annamites and has emptied forests across the region. Wire snares, set by poachers, are the biggest threats to the Annamite’s terrestrial species. Species that live in water and streams, like turtles and amphibians, are hunted as well, but because of their freshwater habitats they are not targeted by wire snares.

In order to rewild the Annamites, conservationists need to end the poaching epidemic. Some ultra-rare species, like the Saola, Large-antlered Muntjac, Annamite Pond Turtle, and Swinhoe’s Giant Softshell Turtle, have populations that are already too low and fragmented to be viable. The last hope for their survival are conservation breeding programs under human care.

Key Protected Areas of the Annamites

In order to protect and restore the biodiversity in the Annamites, Re:wild is developing 

  • Wildlife crime prevention initiatives in key sites

  • Mentoring the next generation of Vietnamese conservation scientists

  • Fostering community-driven conservation efforts

  • Developing monitoring programs for individual species and the biodiversity of the Annamites

  • Working to better understand the drivers of snaring and poaching

  • Working to establish a conservation breeding program for the rarest of the species with our partners, so they can be reintroduced to the wild in the near future  

Camera-trapping surveys are already yielding hopeful and important finds. Evidence of the Silver-backed Chevrotain, for example, was found with a camera trap. Researchers are looking for more populations to establish how many there may be in the Annamites. Researchers have also gathered important information on the Annamite Striped Rabbit and Large-antlered Muntjac using camera-traps.  

Top photo: Owston's Civet. (Photo by Chien Lee)

Wild Facts

  • More than 50 Indigenous peoples are recognized in the Annamites.

  • The Saola was only discovered by science in 1992, though local communities knew the species existed, and it has never been seen in the wild by biologists.

  • In some protected areas in the Annamites, thousands of snares litter the landscape, and many forests have been emptied of ground-dwelling mammals and birds.

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There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the interrelated crises of wildlife extinctions, climate change and pandemics. Re:wild works with local and Indigenous communities, conservation partners, governments and others to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Our Annamites conservation approaches include any combination of the following solutions:

Science-based Decision-making

Conducting scientific research, synthesizing data and using that information to prioritize our conservation efforts and enable a deeper understanding of global biodiversity, its status and how best to conserve it.

protected area management

We work to improve management of protected and conserved areas to ensure a safe and equitable future for biodiversity and local communities.

Wildlife crime prevention

Developing community-led and owned prevention strategies that take into account the societal and cultural drivers of wildlife crime, and implementing systems and technology to stop poachers before a crime is even committed.

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conservation breeding, translocations and reintroductions

Creating insurance populations to prevent extinction and active management of wildlife populations to help restore them to healthy and self-sustainable numbers across their natural range.

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Cultivating Conservation Leaders

Partnering with the next generation, passionate leaders, communities and organizations all over the world to ensure they have the enabling conditions, resources and expertise they need to most effectively protect and manage wildlife and wildlands.


Exploring some of the most remote corners of our planet to discover how and where we can have the biggest impact on imperiled species and places.

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