The IBA is situated in southern Lao P.D.R., and comprises the upper Xe Khaman, its major tributaries and adjacent areas of natural habitat on both sides of the river. The section of the Xe Khaman within the IBA forms the north-western boundary of Dong Ampham National Protected Area, and parts of the IBA to the south-east of the river are included within this national protected area. In addition, part of IBA to the north-west of the river lies within Phou Khathong proposed nature reserve. The topography of the IBA is predominantly flat or gently sloping. Large tracts of relatively undisturbed old-growth semi-evergreen forest remain north of the Xe Khaman and in the valley of the Nam Kamah. However, small patches of secondary regrowth following shifting cultivation can be found in the Nam Kamah floodplain (Davidson et al. 1997). The relatively intact riverine habitats within the IBA are important for Lesser Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga humilis and, most significantly, Masked Finfoot Heliopais personata. The IBA also supports populations of Siamese Fireback Lophura diardi, Red-collared Woodpecker Picus rabieri, Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis, Brown Hornbill Anorrhinus tickelli and Grey-faced Tit Babbler Macronous kelleyi. For some of these species, maintenance of contiguous areas of natural habitat, including within Dong Ampham IBA (LA012), may be essential to their long-term conservation in this IBA. In addition, White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata is reported to occur at the IBA, although, given the availability of suitable habitat, it is unlikely that the IBA supports a significant population. Furthermore, the IBA is believed to support a significant population of a gibbon species Hylobates sp., and Siamese Crocodile Crocodylus siamensis is reported to occur along the Xe Khaman (Davidson et al. 1997).
Apart from the proposed dam construction, it seems there are not any recent major threats to bird species in the IBA. The human population density in the area is low. However, their settlements in the area that expand unchecked can create many problems to biodiversity at the site (Davidson et al. 1997).
Non-bird biodiversity: Davidson et al. (1997) recorded four species of important fauna: Sunda Pangolin M. javanica, Oriental Small-clawed Otter A. cinerea, Leopard Cat P. bengalensis and Tiger P. tigris. Three species of important fauna were also reported and believed to occur in the area: Sun Bear U. malayanus, Golden Cat C. temminckii, Leopard P. pardus.Davidson et al. (1997) observed four species of primate: Slow Loris Nycticebus coucang, Rhesus/Long-tailed Macaque Macaca mulatta/fascicularis, Silvered Langur Semnopithecus cristatus, Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon Hylobates gabriellae. And one species of primate was reported occur: Douc Langur Pygathrix nemaeus.Davidson et al. (1997) reported that Siamese Crocodile Crocodylus siamensis was sighted twice in 1996.Davidson et al. (1997) reported that Gaur Bos gaurus still persist in the area and small number of Asian Elephant Elephas maximus were observed.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Currently, the main threats to biodiversity at the IBA are habitat loss through swidden agriculture and hunting to supply the wildlife trade. The biggest potential threat is a proposal to build a hydropower dam on the Xe Khaman, which would inundate much of the mature forest within the IBA. Another conservation issue is that the Xe Khaman forms the boundary of Dong Ampham Protected Area, and only habitats on the eastern side of the river are afforded protection by this protected area. Habitats on the western side of the river are, however, included within Phou Kathong proposed protected area. It is important to protect habitat on both sides of the river in order to conserve populations of key riverine species, such as Masked Finfoot and Lesser Fish Eagle (Davidson et al. 1997).
The Phou Kathong proposed Protected Area joined the western side of Dong Ampham Protected Area. The IBA covers both the Phou Kathong Proposed Protected Area and Dong Ampham Protected Area. In the IBA area Xe Kaman is acted as a border line between the Proposed Protected Area and the Protected Area.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Upper Xe Kaman. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 13/06/2021.