The NEPL NPA is located in the north-east of Lao PDR and is the largest protected area in the country, unique in its rich wildlife biodiversity supporting a wide range of species, many of which are endangered, including six wild cat species, Dhole, Northern White-cheeked Gibbon, Phayre’s Langur, two bear species, binturongs, otters, hornbills, and numerous species of civet, and other primates.
Living inside or immediately adjacent to the NPA are 30,000 villagers from 98 communities, many from some of the poorest districts of the country. There is a long history of human settlement in and around NEPL, with local people still heavily dependent on natural resources for their subsistence.
Ecotourism activities at NEPL NPA have been developed to provide additional livelihood opportunities for local people. The activities have been designed to create a direct link between conservation and tourism so that the money generated by visitors acts as an incentive for local people to protect endangered wildlife. Improved protection has been achieved through active community involvement, and the creation of conservation-linked financial incentive mechanisms.
To encourage conservation efforts, financial incentives based on encounters with wildlife (including direct sightings and indirect observation such as animal calls, footprints, and scat) by visitors on tours translates into incentive bonuses. Greater incentives are provided for sightings of rarer species.
All information collected on wildlife sightings and observations during the tours is recorded in an online database and is further incorporated into the NPA’s wildlife-monitoring program.