The IBA comprises the upper Nam Ou and its catchment, within Phou Dendin National Protected Area in northern Lao P.D.R. The topography of the IBA is mountainous, with the highest elevations being in the north-east of the IBA, along the international border with Vietnam. Large parts of the IBA, particularly along the Nam Ou above the confluence with the Nam Khang, are uninhabited, and the slopes flanking the river support unbroken dry evergreen forest (Duckworth et al. 1998). The IBA has only been the focus of a few brief surveys, which were constrained by time limitations and inclement weather. As a result, insufficient ornithological information is available to characterise the bird communities of the IBA (Thewlis et al. 1998). However, the available data indicate that the Nam Ou and its tributaries are important for a number of riverine species, including Blyth's Kingfisher Alcedo hercules,Crested Kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris,Lesser Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga humilis and Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii (Duckworth et al. 1998). Although small numbers of River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii have been recorded at the IBA (Thewlis et al. 1998), given the lack of suitable habitat, it is unlikely that the IBA is of high importance for the conservation of sandbar-nesting birds (Duckworth et al. 1998). The available data from forest habitats indicate that the IBA supports Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis, Brown Hornbill Anorrhinus tickelli and Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis (Duckworth et al. 1998). However, given the high hunting pressure believed to be operating and the relative isolation of the IBA from other significant areas of suitable habitat, it is not certain that the IBA can support populations, at least of the two larger species, that are viable in the long term.
Survey coverage the IBA area was poor due to a shortage of time and inclement weather and so any future survey need not fear duplication of the present effort in any area. (Robichaud and Sounthala 1995)
Non-bird biodiversity: The Hmong headman of Ban Than reported Lepopard P. pardus is common in the NBCA (possibly in IBA as well). (Robichaud and Sounthala 1995)Robichaud and Sounthala (1995) concluded that Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta was common in the area of Protected Area and saw three separated along Nam Ou, thus this species of Primate may occur in the IBA area. They also suggested that the habitat of IBA is suitable for gibbons.Robichaud and Sounthala (1995) found the tracks of Asian Elephant, probably three or few individuals along Nam Ou a few kilometers downstream of Nam Toho mouth and found the dropping nearby.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Although there are no roads or large human settlements within the IBA, there are a number of small villages, whose inhabitants practice shifting cultivation (Duckworth et al. 1998). Shifting cultivation and associate fires have probably been responsible for the conversion of large areas of forest to grassland and other secondary habitats. In addition, hunting is probably a major threat to biodiversity at the IBA. However, there has been no assessment of human impacts on the IBA since the mid 1990s, since when the situation may have changed significantly.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Phou Dendin. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 22/01/2020.