Habitat: Lowland evergreen, semi-evergreen,
mixed deciduous and dry dipterocarp forests.
Coniferous and broadleaf woodland, hill evergreen and semi-evergreen and fagaceous forests. Dong Amphan is situated in the Annamite Chain that runs along the Lao and Vietnamese border. These mountains are steep and rugged and give rise to numerous streams and rivers, which create small floodplain areas. The Nong Fa or crater lake is situated within the boundaries of the NPA. Elevation ranges from 120 - 2,052 m at
Phou Pengmun.

Access: Dong Amphan is located in north-east Attapeu Province. It is very remote and mountainous. Access is mainly limited to dry season.



Dong Amphan. Abbreviated: DAP


Established by PM Decree 164, 29 October, 1993.


Latitude: N, Longitude: E

Map Sheets

Scale I: 100,000

Scale I: 200,000
Scale I: 500,000




Xanxai Phouvong



The Eastern border of Dong Amphan follows the international boundary with Vietnam. South-west boundary is the road to Vietnam and the North-west boundary is the Xe Kaman.


1,975 km2.


Dong Amphan is located in the north-east of Attapeu Province. It is very remote and mounatinous. Access is mainly limited to dry season only although this can still be hazardous and time consuming.

The two main arteries of access to Dong Amphan are the Xe Kaman and the Xe Xou, both of which are naviagable by boat for a considerable distance (there are impassable rapids on both rivers approximately 35km from the Attapeu Plain/Western hills interface). Two dirt roads roughly follow these two rivers. The road from Attapeu to Xanxai district can be used as the main access route to the northern section of the NBCA. From the village of Ban Hin Dam, access is by boat up the Xe Kaman as far as the Hua Tat Pohr rapids, a rocky bottleneck. From here, and points to the south-west of the Xe Kaman, the core of the NBCA is only accessible by foot. A network of well-established walking trails exists, interconnecting villages.

Access to the southern section of the NBCA is by boat up the Xe Xou. A dirt road joins Attapeu with the Vietnamese border, following the Xe Xou for a short while. However, it is only seasonnally passable in large trucks with a high wheel base, even at the height of the dry season, because the route involves fording the Xe Kaman. The Xe Xou is naviagable beyond Ban Keng Maw, although there are strong rapids just west of Ban Antoum which are only naviagable with difficulty. The Xe Xou is eventually unnaviagable upstream from Ban Keng Maw (Exact location not known). Trails follow the Xe Xou’s northern and southern banks from Ban Keng Maw, and also penetrate into the NBCA interior.

Villages and
(of the whole province)


No. of Villages


No. of House-holds

Av. size






12 356

13 156

25 512

4 347




9 548

9 779

19 327

3 246




9 522

10 174

19 696

3 524




6 012

6 317

12 329

2 273




4 938

5 380

10 318

1 777




42 376

44 806

87 182

15 167


Population growth is estimated at 2.2% per year. Population density of 8 persons/km in the province (March 1995, Census).

Principal Local


Attapeu province has a mojority of Lao Theung people, with Lao Loum making up only 34% of the population. In the mounatinous areas, the Lao Theung represent almost 100% of the population.

Ethnic group

Nos. of villages

Main Location

Lao Loum



Lave (Laway - Brau)


Plain, Phouvong Mounatins



Xanxai Mountains



Plain, near Phou Louang



Xanxai Mountains






Xanxai Mountains






Edge of Bolovens Plateau

Nya Hon


Edge of Bolovens Plateau

Ta Oy




Management History

There has been no previous management in Dong Amphan NBCA. There is currently a DAFO outpost in Xanxai District, but no direct NBCA activities have occurred.



Dong Amphan is situated in the Annamite Chain mountains that run along the Lao PDR and Vietnamese border. These mountains are steep and rugged and give rise to numerous streams and rivers, which create small floodplain areas. The Nong Fa or crater lake is situated within the boundaries of the NBCA.

The geology of the region is composed of clays, sandstone and limestone.


Elevation ranges from ca.120m in Attapeu lowlands to 2,052 m at Phou Pengmun, in the north-east of the protected area in the Annamite Chain bordering Vietnam.



The Indonchina War resulted in some severe damage to the forest cover and Unexploded ordinance (UXO) is still to be found in the protected area. The US defoliated large tracts of forest to enable massive ground troop landings. In Xanxai district you can see the Phou Kong Lai “the mountain with no tree”. However, the Tropical Forestry Action Plan estimated forest cover for the province at 850,000 ha or 82.3% of the total area of the province. Due to the difficult accessibility of much of Attapeu Province, much of the forest of Dong Amphan is currently free from extensive harvesting activity and illegal logging.

Main Forest

According to WCS, there are a wide variety of habitat types found in Dong Amphan. These habitats include:

  • Lowland evergreen and semi-evergreen, mixed deciduous and dry
    dipterocarp forests;
  • Hill evergreen and semi-evergreen and fagaceous forests;
  • Dry, temperate-like upland coniferous and broadleaf woodland;
  • A mosaic of secondary forest and shifting cultivation.

Other Habitat

Due to extensive bombing during the Indochina war (Two main trails through the NBCA, acting as main arteries of the Ho Chi Minh trail), Dong Amphan contains some bomb craters and UXO.


Mammals> - A total of 84 mammal species have been either confirmed or provisionally identified. Bats and Rodents, two orders which contribute significantly to tropical forest biodiversity, account for nearly half of these. At least 30 key species of conservation concern have been observed or reliably reported. These include;

  • At least six species of primates inhabiting the area, including populations of two threatened taxa, Douc Langur (Pygathrix namaeus) and Buff-cheeked Gibbon (Hylobates gabriellae).
  • At least four rare cats; Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), Asiatic Golden 

Cat (Catopuma temminckii), Clouded Leopard (Pardofelis nebulosa) and Tiger (Panthera tigris).

  • At least eight ungulates; including small numbers of Gaur (Bos gaurus), and populations of two recently discovered deer: Giant Muntjac (Megamuntiacus vuquangensis) and Trong Song Muntjac (Muntjac trungsongensis), both of which have very restricted world ranges and are only known to occur in three other protected areas.
  • A small populations of Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus).

Birds - A total of 280 bird species have been either confirmed or provisionally identified. A total of 37 key species of conservation concern were found. These include;

  • A high density population of Siamese Fireback (Lophura diardi), probably of global importance;
  • Local reports of the presence of Crested Argus (Rheinardia ocellata) ;
  • Riverine specialists including one of only three known populations of Masked Finfoot (Heliopais personata) in Lao PDR and a population of Lesser Fish Eagles (Icthyophaga humilis) of national significance;
  • A suite of Indochinese lowland forest specialists including Red-collared (Picus rabieri) and Pale-headed (Gecinulus grantia)Woodpeckers, Bar-bellied (Pitta elliottii) and Blue-rumped(Pitta soror) Pittas, and Grey-faced Tit Babbler (Macronous kelleyi) ;
  • Two vulture species [White-rumped (Gyps bengalensis) and Red-headed (Sarcogyps calvus) ] and Woolly-necked Stork(Ciconia episcopus) , all of which have undergone dramatic decline in Lao PDR;
  • Healthy populations of at least five dry dipterocarp specialists including Rufous-winged Buzzard (Butastur liventer) and White-rumped Falcon (Polihierax inssignis) ;
  • A nationally significant population of Great Hornbills ( Buceros rhinoceros).

Fish: in 1994-1995 a biological study of the Xe Kaman and Xe Xou found them to support a very high fish diversity, possibly as many as 300-400 species, including several threatened taxa. This may place the two rivers amongst the most important in Indochina in terms of fish diversity.

Reptiles and amphibians: There were numerous villager reports of Siamese Crocodile, a critically endangered reptile, from both the Xe Kaman and Xe Xou river systems.

Principal Contributions to the NBCA System


The biodiversity value in Dong Amphan is great due to the remote location, rugged terrain and broad suite of habitats. Numerous key species (species of high conservation value) are found. These species include 30 mammals and 37 birds. A biological survey of the Xe Kaman and Xe Xou found them to support as many as 300-400 species, including threatened taxa.


The NBCA region supports numerous watercourses, which drain westwards from the two main rivers of Xe Kaman and Xe Xou into the Xe Kong in the west. A biological survey of the Xe Kaman and Xe Xou places these two rivers amongst he most important in Indochina in terms of fish biodiversity. The Xe Kaman, close to the Vietnamese border, is currently being considered as a potential dam site.


Xanxai and Phouvong Districts are home to numerous distinct ethnic groups.


& Tourism


The most immediate and serious threats to the NBCA are hunting and other wildlife extraction, particularly for trade. This comprises two distinct forms; subsistence and commercial. This is potentially the most threatening and damaging as it targets many key species such as Tigers, Douc Langurs and Buff-cheeked Gibbon. There is a large number of trans-border incursions by both the Lao and the Vietnamese exchanging and bartering wildlife and its deriatives for a wide variety of other goods.

NTFP collection. Much of this threat comes from Vietnam. Rattan collection is severe, especially along the eastern border with Vietnam, and will probably increase as roads are finished that connect Lao with Vietnam. “Mai Dam” (black wood), the fungus infected heartwood of Aquilaria (Thymeleaceae) is important commercially and sold to Vietnam.

Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) from the Indonchina War is a major threat to the people and large animals in the area. UXO may hinder conservation efforts as it limits travel of both villagers and management staff.

Other threats include shifting cultivation and swidden agriculture, which are increasing due to population pressures and increased poverty.

Construction of the Xe Kaman hydropower dam will inundate much of the old-growth evergreen/semi-evergreen forest in the Xe Kaman basin. This is the area with the highest biodiversity conservation value.

Reasons for
Extensions or

This would incorporate a substantial tract of dry dipterocarp and mixerd deciduous forests, habitats very poorly represented in the NBCA at present. These areas are utilised by several key species such as Elephant, large cars, Gaur and possibly Banteng. There are no permenant settlements in this area, and its designation would provide the opportunity to link Dong Amphan with the Nam Kong Provincial Protected Area to the south-west and become part of a trans-border protected area with Cambodia and Vietnam.


  • Rob Tizard, Conservation Co-ordinator, WWF Lao Project Office,
  • P.O. Box 7871 , Vientiane , Lao PDR. Telephone; (856) 21 216080, Fax: (856) 21 216080, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Khamdy, Head of PAFO: Telephone: 031 212 450
  • Sukkaseum, Head of PFO: Telephone: 031 212 450
  • Subanh, Head of Dong Amphan NBCA: Telephone: 031 212 450


Two staff members (as of October 1999)





The main management priorities for Dong Amphan are to establish an NBCA presence in Xanxai District and involve villagers in participatory resource management. This involves participatory resource assessments (PRAs) and flora and fauna surveys. Initial steps in land use planning (village maps, etc) are also a priority as well as the development and training of a provincial NBCA management team.


Fishing is the primary protein source to many villagers. Due to fish populations having declined over the past few decades, institution of a basic education program highlighting the dangers of overfishing is recommended to conserve the area’s exceptional fish diversity.

Conduct further research into uses of wildlife and its deriatives and NTFP’s so that strucutred management opportunities exist and that alternatives can be suggested to provide alternative incomes and support.

The elevation of Phou Kathong to NBCA status, as the area contains valuable numbers of key species, including Tiger, Elephant, Gaur and a high density of Siamese Fireback. It encompasses relatively undisturbed dry dipterocarp woodland and extensive tracts of lowland and hill evergreen and semi-evergreen, within which are situated at least two large natural mineral licks. Phou Kathong’s gazettement as an NBCA would be an important step towards completing the proposed NBCA corridor linkage between Xe Pian and Dong Amphan via the Bolovens Plateau.

In addition, since Dong Amphan is located on the tri-border area and is close to protected areas in Vietnam and in Cambodia, then collaboration between the three countries is encouraged. These collaborations may focus on issues such as wildlife trade and NTFP extraction and are a priority for WWF in both countries. There have already been meetings and workshops in 1998 and 1999 in all three countries as they each begin to address the trans-boundary conservation issues.


  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF): They are presently formulating plans for management of the Nam Ghong Proposed Provincial Protected area.
  • Lao Red Cross: They have been assisting with flood damage control and the teaching of first aid and HIV/AIDS.
  • Health Unlimited (HU): They supply medical assistance and facilities to remote and isolated villages.
  • UXO Clearance and Handicap International: Although the province was heavily affected by UXO, the province is deemed less of a priority than its neighbouring provinces due to its inaccessibility.
  • Austral-Lao Hydropower company: Currently in survey and negotiation phases with Lao Government on construction of a dam on the Xe Kaman.
  • DAEWOO: The Korean firm have been in Attapeu since 1994 and have now completed the Houai Ho Power Station, 37km towards Xe Kong from Attapeu town.
  • Dong Ah: Another Korean firm promoting 6 dams on the Bolovens plateau, located 17km from Attapeu town. 


Davidson, P., Robichaud, W., Tizard, R., Vongkhamheng, C. and Wolstemcroft, J. (1997). A Wildlife and Habitat Survey of Dong Amphan and Phou Kathong Proposed NCBA, Attapeu Province, Lao PDR. WCS, Lao PDR.
Goudineau, Y. (ed.; 1997). Resettlement and Social Characteristics of New Villages: Basic Needs for Resettled Communities in Lao PDR. Volume 2. UNDP, Lao PDR.
Handicap International (1997). Province and District Report; Province of Attapeu (17). National Study on the Socio-economic Impact of Unexploded Ordanance. Lao PDR.
Roberts, T. and Baird, I. (1995). Rapid Assessment of Fish and Fisheries for the Xe Nam Noy – Xe Pian Hydroscheme in Southern Lao PDR. WCS, Vientiane.
SIDA (1999). Proposal to Government of Lao. WWF Sweden.