The only known population of Eld’s deer in Laos occurs within the Savannakhet Eld’s deer sanctuary, founded in 2005 in partnership with the Savannakhet provincial government and NGOs.
Threats to the ecological integrity of the landscape in which the Eld’s deer sanctuary is located are escalating. Of particular concern is rapid habitat conversion of the dry forest to make way for a high-intensity agriculture.
Habitat conversion and unsustainable land use is largely driven by poor planning. Often, communities encroach upon the forest, burning vegetation to create livestock fodder. By doing this, the area in which Eld’s deer is free to live and breed is reduced, ultimately meaning a drop in numbers.
To address this, WWF-Laos, in collaboration with the provincial, district and village authorities, is assisting in land use planning, villager-led patrolling of the sanctuary, and the development of sustainable livelihood opportunities to reduce impacts to the deer and its habitat.
One of the long term goals is to cooperate with the relevant government agencies to have the sanctuary gazetted as a National Protected Area, which would lead to stronger protection for livelihoods and the deer.
With better locally directed measures to conserve the dry forest Eld’s deer calls home, we are hopeful this striking species begins to flourish once again.