You may not have heard of the Annamite Mountains before … but this is a place worth discovering!

Come on, join us as we journey into the Annamites and learn about the hidden animals of the forest!

Our hosts on this epic adventure are scientist Camille Coudrat and the team at Association Anoulak. We’re joining them on a trek to their field camp in Laos.

Camille Coudrat, Founder and Director of Association Anoulak. © Association Anoulak
Association Anoulak team. © Association Anoulak

Where are the Annamites?

The Annamites are a mountain range in Southeast Asia. This mountain range runs along the border of Laos and Vietnam. The mountains also extend into part of Cambodia. See if you can locate the Annamites on the map:

© Eric Losh

Grab your gear and let’s go!

We’re going to explore this warm, mountainous region and its breathtaking scenery. The region has jagged rock formations, flowing water, and magical hidden caves. The forests are dense with life.

Camille and the team at Association Anoulak carry out their research in Nakai-Nam Theun National Park in Laos. That’s where we are headed to now.

Nakai-Nam Theun National Park landscape in the Annamite Mountains of Laos. © Association Anoulak

On our way to the Association Anoulak field camp, we hike through the forest, taking in all the sites. Along the way, we meet some of the people who call this beautiful region home. There are many different cultures in the Annamites.

Nakai-Nam Theun National Park landscape in the Annamite Mountains of Laos. © Association Anoulak
Waterfall in the forests of Nakai-Nam Theun National Park in the Annamite Mountains of Laos. © Association Anoulak

The Annamites are rich in animal and plant life. Different types of animals move quietly through the treetops and along the forest floor. Camille tells us about all the animals that scientists have documented so far:

There are  hundreds of species of plants in the Annamites, too, and more waiting to be discovered! We keep a lookout and record all the species we see along our journey to camp.

Did you know that many of the species found in the Annamites are endemic? This means that these species occur only in this region. One of these endemic animals is the saola, sometimes called the Asian unicorn. The saola is very rare – in fact, it was only discovered in 1992 and we still don’t know much about it. How fascinating!

Illustration of a saola. © Eric Losh

What other animals are left to discover in this remote mountain range?

Camille and the team are on a mission to find out. The team want to find out what animals live in the forest, where these animals go, and how they behave. They want to help conserve these animals and their unique habitat. 

Camera traps to the rescue!

Camille and the team use a special tool called a camera trap to help them with their animal surveys. A camera trap is triggered to take photographs or videos when an animal passes the camera’s sensor. Camera traps are super helpful in environments like the Annamites, where it is hard to spot secretive wildlife. Another good thing about camera traps is that animals can be observed with minimal disturbance from people.

Camille and the team place camera traps near the forest floor and also in the treetops. Camera trapping is hard work, but it is also rewarding. Camille tells us that the camera traps have already captured all sorts of amazing forest creatures! 

Phew! We’re finally at camp now. On our arrival we get to meet some more members of the Association Anoulak team. Here is the camera trap crew:

Camera trap team. © Association Anoulak

It’s exciting to meet everyone after hearing about their interesting work. After a rest and a bite to eat, Camille says she’ll show us some photographs from the camera traps. We’re looking forward to the slideshow!

Association Anoulak presents …

First, Camille shows us members of the camera trap crew being trained to safely place cameras in the treetops:

Tree climbing professional training. © Enquetes d’Arbres

It looks scary, but also really exciting! Next, Camille wants to show us some of the amazing animals captured on camera so far. She starts with a selection of animals recorded on the forest floor …

Sunda pangolin:

Sunda pangolin. © Association Anoulak

Owston’s civet:

Owston’s civet. © Association Anoulak

Sun bear:

Sun bear. © Association Anoulak

Large-antlered muntjac:

Large-antlered muntjac. © Association Anoulak

Asian elephant:

Asian elephant. © Association Anoulak

Next, Camille shows us a selection of animals recorded with the tree canopy cameras …

Red-shanked douc:

Red-shanked douc. © Association Anoulak

White-cheeked gibbon:

White-cheeked gibbon. © Association Anoulak

Black giant squirrel:

Black giant squirrel. © Association Anoulak

Austen’s brown hornbill:

Austen’s brown hornbill. © Association Anoulak

Great hornbill

Great hornbill. © Association Anoulak

Assamese macaque:

Assamese macaque. © Association Anoulak

Binturong:

Binturong. © Association Anoulak

Wow, what a great collection of photos! Thanks for sharing them with us, Camille.

It’s cool to see the different animals that live on the forest floor versus in the tree canopy. We think and talk about some of the characteristics that help animals live well in the treetops. For example, the tail of the red-shanked douc helps it balance. And the white-cheeked gibbon can swing through the trees!

What a fantastic start to our journey. We knew the Annamites were cool, but we had no idea there were so many amazing animals to see. We can’t wait to continue our next adventure with Camille and the team. Camille says we’ll be learning about otters!

Stay tuned for another …

Read more about the work of Camille and Association Anoulak on Mongabay.com:

https://news.mongabay.com/2016/12/explore-the-wonders-of-the-annamites-in-this-new-childrens-book/