Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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Upper Lao Mekong
100o 23.00' East 20o 20.00' North
300 - 400m
Year of IBA assessment
BirdLife Indochina Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)
Site description The IBA is located along the Mekong River in northern Lao P.D.R., and comprises a 377 km section of the Mekong channel, from Ban Xiangkhok on the Lao-Myanmar border to Ban Bo on the boundary between Oudomxai and Xaignabouli provinces. This section supports three basic habitat types: featureless stretches with a well defined channel but no, or negligible, exposed bed; stretches with many sandbars; and stretches of channel mosaic habitat, comprising sand and gravel bars and islands, rock outcrops, bushland and braided streams. The stretches of channel mosaic habitat support a relatively rich riverine bird community, including River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii and Jerdon's Bushchat Saxicola jerdoni. The stretches with many sandbars are important for Small Pratincole Glareola lactea; the IBA supports 5% of the estimated world population of this species, although the IBA is probably not as important as Mekong Channel from Phou Xiang Thong to Siphandon IBA (LA007) for this species. The IBA also supports large numbers of Plain Martin Riparia paludicola and significant numbers of Grey-headed Lapwing V. cinereus, and is the site of the only recent Lao records of Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (Duckworth et al. 2002). Finally, there are single records of both Swan Goose Anser cygnoides and Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticauda from the IBA, although it is unlikely that it regularly supports significant numbers of either species.
Key Biodiversity The international bird conservation importance of the Upper Lao Mekong does not match that of the Cambodian Mekong. Even so, it is of different community composition (presence of Jerdon's Bushchat, abundance of Plain Martin, but absence of Mekong Wagtail). This highly distinctive and vulnerable bird community is not represented in BNCAs (Duckworth et al. 2002). The IBA, therefore, is particularly important for conservation of this distinctive bird community.
ReferencesDocument nameDuckworth, J. W., Davidson, P., Evans, T. D., Round, P. D. and Timmins, R. J. (2002) Bird records from Laos, principally the upper Lao/Thai Mekong and Xiangkhouang province, in 1998-2000. Forktail 18: 11-44.Duckworth, J. W., Salter, R. E. and Khounboline, K. eds. (1999) Wildlife in Lao P.D.R.: 1999 status report. Vientiane: IUCN, WCS and CPAWM.
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BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Upper Lao Mekong. Downloaded from
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