Rare Eld’s Deer Sees Populations Increase in Laos 

A group of Eld's deer (Photo: Jonathan Eames).

Populations of Eld’s deer have increased in national protected area in Savannakhet Province over the last six years, according to a new report.

An official at the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry told Vientiane Times that conservation efforts have allowed the deer to thrive in protected forests since 2016. 

Protected areas in the province extend into the districts of Xonbouly, Thapangthong, Phalanxay, Songkhon, and Phin, covering 130,000 hectares.

Although the number of Eld’s deer had initially decreased, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been working with local authorities to protect the species for many years. 

The Eld’s deer (Rucervus eldii), also known as the brow-antlered deer, is an endangered species native to Southeast Asia.

The number of animals in Savannakhet is now believed to number 170 animals, up from just 80 in previous years.

The United Nations Development Program donated funding in 2016 to the “Sustainable Forest and Land Management in the Dry Dipterocarp Forest Ecosystems of Southern Laos” project with a budget of approximately USD 12 million. 

The project, running from 2016 to 2022, was to support the conservation of the ecosystem in the Eld’s deer forest, which was funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Through protected area management and land use planning, as well as support for improved livelihoods and income generation for local communities, the initiative focused on dry dipterocarp forests and the Eld’s deer.

Meanwhile, officials, scientists, and conservationists from six countries, including Laos, gathered for a three-day conference in Phnom Penh in November 2018 to share their experience in conserving the endangered Eld’s deer.

Besides two locations in Laos, the species only remains in northern and eastern lowland forests in Cambodia where densities are worryingly low.