Can cater to such needs white-handed Gibbons totally avoid ground contact only swinging from branch to branch at breathtaking speed if necessary apart from burns they are the fastest moving species in the canopy climbing like this seems like defying gravity but it takes training the aspiring junior has not quite reached his father’s.
Elegance mid-april Luang Prabang is beginning to celebrate the Buddhist new year new year is a time of cleansing symbolically as well as physically family home or temple all across the country people are now busy cleaning washing the statues with sacred water is a good deed and a sign of renewal the spirits of the old year are driven out new.
Spirits will come with the approaching monsoon days before the actual holiday begins all the people are out and about profane feasts take turns with traditional customs and religious rituals to avoid evil surprises at rebirth it is necessary to lay up good deeds selling songbirds.
In tiny cages is now big business people buy the birds to release them as a climax of the festivities tiny fish served the same purpose the markets are busy and loud but there is a place of sacred silence down by the Mekong two hours by boat upstream of the cave temples of PACU many legends are told about the shrine.
Which is visited by pilgrims from across Asia over decades believers have left thousands of Buddha figures of bronze wood or clay time and these figurines have turned PACU into a religious site of world renown April is not only.
The month of New Year it is also the giant catfish season we are now on the Thai side of the Mekong but there is no trace of catfish remembering the biologists in Laos we decide.
To do some market research and this method proves successful unfortunately our first catfish is dead it is a rather small specimen but it’s definitely the species we’ve been looking for this fish comes from a.
Fish farm catfish are being bred.
From the eggs of animals caught in the wild there is no way this fish could have been caught in the Mekong juvenile fish larvae or.
Eggs have never been found along the 4000 kilometers of the rivers length the only encounters have been with adult animals in the Delta and right here before.
The monsoon yet there is not a.
Single fishing boat out there why if anyone can provide an answer it is Krang sac all his life the fisherman has been after catfish the biggest one he ever caught he says weighed 280 kilos Wow honey so Bonnie can.
Make up one day now come on be on my salary each.
Year his crew used to catch two or three giant catfish in a good year up to several men well I’m a hard man to partner in the early days well they were very heavy we sold the fish to the lotions for a small fortune today people hardly go fishing anymore it’s also prohibited by the government whenever we catch a catfish we.
Can only keep it long enough to weigh it and then we have to release it who goes fishing in order to release a fish when he was younger there.
Was up to sixty fishing boats on the mekong and at the beginning of the season both Thai and Lao shins used to celebrate a big.
Feast Pangasius is the world’s biggest freshwater fish is threatened by extinction as recently as the 80s some 60 giant.
Catfish will yet at each year now there is a total of.
Two or three the reason is the reckless exploitation of the catfish population Thailand too is now considering a radical protection otherwise the giant of the Mekong will soon be history hopefully the mountain forests will render better news for six months the video camera and the fifty photo traps have been out in the forest.
The video camera has taken many pictures during daylight but there are no animals to be seen possibly large insects have crossed the photoelectric beam at night the camera records infrared images an entire week passed before the first picture was taken stealthily as.
If it had got wind of the camera a red montiek a small deer species sneaks by giant bats chase through the night air many nights later a sambar deer appears this species is about the same size as a European.
Red deer and another Samba always alert ready to break into flight it’s obvious that.
This area offers prey for big cat one day when.
Changing batteries the service team discovered Tiger tracks near the.
Camera so there is at least one tiger gliding through the jungle at night did he only pass through or is this his territory perhaps one of the photo traps can tell us more Arlene and her team would be more than happy with just one shot of a tiger.
Proof of its presence a month later they dismount the cameras little do they know that they already hold.
A sensation in their hands over the.
Are distributed across several hundred square kilometers of the protected area getting them back is a tedious job the crew are nervous have the cameras worked were.
They placed correctly what will be on the films once they’re developed a few weeks later in the WCS office in vientiane the capital of Laos more than two thousand photos of the dry seasons trappings are laid out.
On the table we were very thrilled with the results um in fact we found a really high diversity of carnivores large and small carnivores at the site where we’ve been working which has been exceptional in Indochina in the protected area there are at least six cat species as well as 14 other carnivores some of them never photographed in the wild in Laos many predators on the red list for this region walked by a camera.
At least once and here are the stars a clouded leopard as rare as the blue Mauritius an Asian golden cat might active and rarely seen by humans a leopard the number.
Two in the ranking of big cats a.
Pair of marbled cats for practically unknown species but the biggest surprise of all in the.
Survey area five different Tigers have been photo trapped from this it could be projected that at least seven perhaps up to 20 Tigers inhabit this part of the park the most important result of the WCS project is the realization that in spite of poaching and trade in wild species this area is.
Still a refuge for Tigers one of Asia’s last it’s not too late for protection measures from the ACA’s perspective the nervous counting of threatened species is a Western obsession the men will hunt as long as there is anything turned and if one day the animal should disappear it’s not the fault of crossbow and.
Rifle the most serious threat to laos and its natural wealth is forest clearing and the consequent loss of soil compared to the rest of Asia lasses human population of 5.5 million is small and yet it’s growing dramatically illegal timber harvesting here a controversial River Dam their progress locks loud and hard on lasses door the New Year’s.
Celebration revolves around water other ingredients are flour and deafening noise like an explosion of life the annual celebration sweeps through.
The streets of the time-honoured city luang probang and its otherwise quiet inhabitants have changed beyond recognition the official climax is the big parade in a Peloquin prabang.
Most important buddhist statue is carried through the streets the parade is said to follow a precise choreography if that is so it is impossible to recognize for a stranger all the ethnic groups are represented there are dancers beauty queens and dignitaries and after a while the parade dissolves into.
A wild party the masses flow down to the Mekong island a large sand bank that only appears during the dry season the otherwise quiet mekong turns into a chaotic waterway the source of the merriness is not just brandy and beer but the joyful.
Expectation of the monsoon the air is hot and the land parched the rains will soon bring relief as a salute to Buddha the.
Families build carefully decorated temples and stupas of sand now it’s time for good deeds finally the poor songbirds are allowed to escape and the fish those who have survived the.
Journey in their plastic bags can now return to the river soon the mekong will wash away the.
Footprints the spits paper plates bottles and huts for three months water will be the dominating element cascades of it will rush from all the mountain science where the young fisherman is standing now there will be deep water in some places the Mekong.
Rises 15 meters it will flood the plains feed irrigation channels and make the rice grow in southern Laos is the sprawling temple of vat poo erected by the Khmer.
People in the 11th century it’s weathered stones tell of the decline and fall.
The Khmer Kingdom and all the past rulers of this region over the centuries Burmese Siamese and French occupied the land Laos was devastated by American bombs and communist experiments but the vicissitudes of history have come and gone like the changing seasons.
In the end Laos has emerged as what it has always been an enchanting yet stubborn wilderness and a land of farmers a land not ruled by kings but by the monsoon and the Miko a natural Wonderland louse a land ruled by the mekong one of the.
World’s mightiest rivers the Mekong is fed by tributaries hidden deep in pathless canyons it is a whim of history but centuries have passed with hardly a human foot trespassing in this wilderness and so today Laos can still boast a wealth of natural wonders unchartered rivers unclimbed mountainous untouched forests inhabited by mysterious creatures Laos is.
A last hideout for some of Asia’s big wild animals home to dozens of indigenous tribes and cultures and keeper of a Buddhist tradition long lost elsewhere so in the very heart of crowded and buzzing Indochina there is a wonderland still on the brink of its first.
Discovery in the northern province of who are farm a zoologist is on her way.
Into the jungle Arleen Johnson is a specialist in Tigers being tongue.
Is the vantage point of her expedition a village on.
The fringe of the nomads fool Louie protected area Arlene and her team on a mission for the Wildlife Conservation Society or WCS and the Laos.
National forestry department when we started doing our fieldwork in 2003 the goal of the project was to understand better the distribution and abundance of tiger and their prey in the nominally protected area 50 or ematic cameras will be installed in the mountain forests they will record anything that moves only during the dry season can one travel here without sinking into deep mud a camera team will accompany the group and try to.
Install a video camera along with the stills cameras the first camera trap will be positioned at a walking distance of two days Laos has no access to the sea yet it is a land of water.
Dominated by the mighty Mekong beginning at a point where three countries Laos.
Thailand and China meet the Mekong runs Southland it forms a long border line with Thailand and leaves Laos in the South thundering over the Kong for Peng waterfalls into neighboring Cambodia it is a spectacular and noisy exit mean AMCOM mother of.
All waters is what the people of laos call their river in the south the mekong is as wide as a lake this water scape is called Seif and on the four thousand islands when the rainy season starts most disappear overnight over a distance of one thousand nine hundred kilometers the Mekong carries Goods and people irrigates rice paddies and fills the nets of fishermen this river produces more.
Fish than the entire Mediterranean Sea an annual two million tonnes the Mekong boasts one of the world’s highest degrees of biodiversity scientists know many of its species only from hearsay these murky floods are home to a legendary monster the giant.
Catfish weighing 300 kilos it is the world’s biggest freshwater fish only a few people have ever seen a giant catfish but the fishermen in the northwest near the time border have hunted the giant.
For generations but even at the height of the catfish season or we can find is one Thai fishing boat Laos has recently prohibited the catching of catfish because the species is threatened by extinction for hours the Thai sail up and down the river only to.
Return home with empty Nets what has happened to the giant catfish if there is an answer it is found on the Thai side of the river like the Mekong the northern mountains are also full of secrets the ARCA people live along the Chinese border many of their.
Villages can only be reached by foot journeys often lasting several days through thick mountain forests hunters like so enyo are familiar with plants and animals no white man has ever seen he still uses the traditional Chinese crossbow firearms are prohibited the hunters set up for the woods to try their luck unlike many lotions the akka are not Buddhist for them a hunt is also a visit to the realms of spirits where.
Rocks and plants are animated beings each akha village has a spirit swing it’s the gate to a mystic cosmos it’s built in honor of the dead and must never be touched the Aqua came here from southern.
China in contrast to the land of their origin their villages in Laos still have a traditional look no tin roofs no electricity no plumbing the women’s decorative headgear is a highly visible symbol of the acha culture the akka.
In needlework and weaving they dye the fabric for their clothes with indigo even though the men are hunters and trappers the akka are mainly farmers they.
Clear the steep forest slopes with fire and they plant dry rice and vegetables the hunters have long.
Disappeared into the jungle when the women set out on their way.
To the market selling a few.
Vegetables is the ACA’s only source of income the main market in the north is.
Right on the Chinese border in Mohan Singh the market punctuates the region’s.
Cultural complexity of nationalities tribes and languages the south is populated by Thai and Khmer the north by peoples from Tibet Burma and China Laos boasts more than 60 officially recognized ethnic minorities the north.
Is dangerous ground the Golden Triangle is closed clandestine poppy farming drug trafficking and smuggling of goods of all kinds are challenges to the government even the wilderness is beset by serious problems poaching and illegal trade with exotic animals are a threat to the tiger population and other rare jungle.
Species this is why the government supports the work of Arlene Johnson and her team wilderness research in Laos is a tedious adventure we have a cursory list of animals that are existing here and which is probably fairly accurate with you know a few other species that.
Be added to that list but as far as the ecology and the distribution of the majority of these species I would say we’re just in.
The early stages of understanding that none of the researchers have ever seen a tiger eye to eye yet they have little doubt that the big cats are nearby in an abandoned batch of banana trees they set up camp for the night hot water.
Is the usual dinner the majority of the expedition team are Larson’s the assistants and porters are excellent jungle Scouts who can read animal tracks at night.
A temperature sinks to five degrees centigrade the lightly clad Porter’s shiver while playing cards the area to be investigated is set out in squares the camera positions.
Are carefully defined but the Loess protected area spreads across three and a half thousand square.
Kilometers looking for Tigers in this rugged mountain scape seems hopeless shielded by mountain ranges and forgotten by the world Laos has preserved wild landscapes hardly found elsewhere in Southeast Asia traditional culture too has miraculously survived.
The region’s violent history in spite of its ethnic diversity Laos has been a predominantly Buddhist country for more than seven centuries on the Mekong there is a city that seems to consist of nothing but temples.