The Annamite Striped Rabbit, Nesolagus timminsi, is a forest-dwelling Lagomorph restricted to the Annamite Mountain Range on the border of Vietnam and Laos. The species was discovered by science just over 20 years ago, in 1999, and, until recently, little was known about its ecology or population status. It was thus categorized as Data Deficient under the terms of the the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, although, like all terrestrial Mammals in the Annamites, this species has probably declined as a result of the snaring prevalent in the region.
In a paper published in the journal Orynx on 11 February 2020, Andrew Tilker of Global Wildlife Conservation, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Lagomorph Specialist Group and Saola Working Group, An Ngyen, also of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Lagomorph Specialist Group, and the Department of Ecological Dynamics at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Rob Timmins, also of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Saola Working Group, Thomas Gray, again of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Lagomorph Specialist Group, and of Wildlife Alliance, Robert Steinmetz of WWF Thailand, Alexei Abramov of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Nicholas Wilkinson, again of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Saola Working Group, discuss the conservation status of the Annamite Striped Rabbit.
Recent studies, in particular using camera trapping, have provided new insights into the status of the Annamite Striped Rabbit across much of its range. Although some studies in Vietnam have detected the species, mostly at only a small proportion (less than 5%) of camera-trap stations, others have failed to record it, despite considerable camera-trapping effort. Many of these studies have also failed to record other species known to be highly susceptible to snaring, suggesting these results are a consequence of snaring-driven declines rather than naturally low densities. Landscape-scale camera trapping across a protected area complex in central Vietnam has recorded low Annamite Striped Rabbit occupancies, with most detections in the less accessible and better patrolled parts of the surveyed area. The species appears to be approaching local extinction in one protected area where snaring has probably been more intensive, providing further evidence for snaring-driven declines.
Together, this body of information indicates that Annamite Striped Rabbit populations have almost certainly declined by.more than % over the past 10 years and, given increasing levels of snaring, will probably decline by a similar rate over the next decade, triggering a categorization as Endangered under the terms of the Red List of Threatened Species. Without effective conservation actions this species is in danger of extinction. In addition to underscoring the tenuous existence of the Annamite Striped Rabbit, the new categorization is a cautionary lesson highlighting the risk of silent extinction that many Data Deficient species face.
What will it take to save the Annamite Striped Rabbit? As with most threatened Annamite Mammals, the highest priority action is to reduce snaring, especially within strategic core areas. This will be a difficult undertaking as most protected areas in Vietnam and Laos fail to provide effective protection for ground-dwelling Mammal species. Given the difficulties of halting snaring, it may be prudent to start a captive population of the Annamite Striped Rabbit as it is not currently held in captivity.
Conservation stakeholders must act quickly to protect this little-known Lagomorph. There is little doubt that, with continued extensive snaring across the Annamites, the species could drift silently into extinction.
Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.