The IBA is located inside Xe Sap National Protected Area, in southern Lao P.D.R. The topography of the IBA is steep and mountainous, and there are a number of peaks above 1,800 m asl. The IBA is extensively forested, and the vegetation is dominated by dry evergreen forest, with smaller areas of pine forest and, at lower elevations, semi-evergreen forest (Steinmetz et al. 1999). Elevations above 1,800 m asl may support upper montane forest. There are also some areas of grassland, where the forest has been cleared for shifting cultivation or sprayed with defoliants during the Second Indochina War (Steinmetz et al. 1999). Much of the IBA remains unsurveyed ornithologically, particularly areas in the east, and no conclusions should be drawn from the relatively low number of key species recorded at the IBA to date. Based on the information currently available, however, the forested mountains within the IBA are important for a number of key bird species, and the large number of permanent streams are important for Blyth's Kingfisher Alcedo hercules. Notably, the IBA is one of only three sites in Lao P.D.R. known to support Yellow-billed Nuthatch Sitta solangiae. In addition, Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata is reported by local people to occur at the IBA (Steinmetz et al. 1999). In addition to Yellow-billed Nuthatch and Crested Argus, it is possible that the IBA supports a number of other restricted-range species, which are most likely to occur on wetter, east-facing slopes, in the east of the IBA, close to the international border with Vietnam.
Steinmetz et al. (1999) stated that "The 'total number of bird species', and 'number of Key Species' recorded for Xe Sap and documented in the report may be misleading because their low values give the impression the Xe Sap is less rich or significant than other Protected Area surveyed in Laos. In reality, the figures for Xe Sap from this survey more reflect the logical challenges and limitations of the survey team and the relatively low survey effort for birds, rather than any biological character of the avifauna. In fact, Xe Sap may turn out to be one of the most important areas for birds in Laos. It, therefore, needs to be stressed here that the baseline survey for birds in western Xe Sap is not completed and it is recommended that more investment of survey effort be applied for birds."
Non-bird biodiversity: There were reports of many species of other important fauna occur in the IBA including: Bears sp, Pangolins sp, Golden Jackall, Weasels sp, Otter sp, samall Cats sp, medium Cat sp and large Cat sp. However, Sun Bear U. malayanus was the only species confirmed (Steinmetz et al. 1999)Steinmetz et al. (1999) recorded two species of primate in the IBA: Pygmy Loris Nycticebus pygmaeus and a gibbons species Hylobates sp.One record of turtle species by Steinmetz et al. (1999), but it was based on provisional information: Big-headed Turtle Platysternon megacephalum.Steinmetz et al. (1999) observed two species of gymnosperm in the IBA: Fokienia hodginsii and Pinus dalatensis.Steinmetz et al. (1999) recorded Southern Serow Naemorhedus sumatraensis.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Relatively few villages near Xe Sap Protected Area maintain large resource use areas within the protected area, and natural resource exploitation is concentrated close to villages. As a result, human use of natural resources within the interior of the IBA is relatively low, and limited to hunting, fishing and honey collection. The major threat to biodiversity at the IBA is hunting, particularly commercial hunting by outsiders or by local people to supply middlemen. The presence of a well-developed cross-border wildlife trade in the area is significant factor contributing to high hunting pressure on a range of wildlife species (Steinmetz et al. 1999).
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Xe Sap. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 16/01/2022.