Annamite Striped Rabbit

Annamite striped rabbits inhabit subtropical/tropical moist lowland forest and rainforests that receive at least 40mm of rainfall each month.

Annamite striped rabbits live in subtropical/tropical moist lowland forests and rainforests.

The specific range of elevations the rabbits inhabit is currently unknown, but their sister species, Sumatran striped rabbits (Nesolagus netscheri) are found from 600 to 1400 meters above sea level. Annamite striped rabbits have been found within this range except one specimen that was found at an altitude of 200 meters.

It is clear that the Annamite striped rabbit occurs predominantly in wet evergreen forest, which has little-to-no dry season, probably no month with rainfall below 40 millimeters. Most records come from low- to mid-elevation broadleaf forest.

As an example of typical Annamite striped rabbit occurrence patterns, camera-trapping in three protected areas in Viet Nam, Phong Dien Nature Reserve (=NR), Khe Nuoc Trong proposed NR and Bac Huong Hoa NR, detected the rabbit in broadleaf, wet evergreen forest from 50 to 1,183 meters above sea level. There is one record in Viet Nam from close to the highest point in Bach Ma NP in forest with characteristics approaching montane evergreen forest, but still with an ever-wet climate. One record in Lao PDR comes from the western portion of Xe Sap NPA where semi-evergreen and lower montane forests predominate; however, intensive and extensive camera-trapping showed that the species is very localized and/or very rare in western Xe Sap NPA. The localized presence of Licuala and Lanonia palm species indicates small patches of ‘ever-wet’ habitat in this area and the lower montane forest areas with a considerable Dalat Pine Pinus dalatensis component are another clear indication that these lower montane forests have reduced dry seasons compared with most such forests in Lao PDR.

Although the Annamite striped rabbit has potentially a low detectability by camera-trapping as conventionally practiced in Indochina, it appears to have been detected by all camera-trapping efforts of more than a few thousand camera-trap-nights in wet evergreen forest.

In stark contrast, it has never been camera-trapped by surveys of similar effort in areas of indisputable semi-evergreen and lower montane forest in Lao PDR. Particularly telling in this regard are the absence of detections from Nam Et – Phou Louey NPA, Nam Kading NPA, the Nam Ngiap catchment, the Nam Xang – Nam Chouan area, Phou Sithon ESCA, large regions of Nakai – Nam Theun NPA, and much of western Xe Sap NPA. These are all areas with varying degrees of Annamite faunal affinity. In Nakai – Nam Theun NPA the few detections were all in sites where, as with Xe Sap NPA, other indications suggest localized occurrence of wet evergreen forest (or forest strongly transitional with it).

Potentially, many Lao populations function as sink populations, because most if not all wet evergreen forest in Lao PDR is likely to be to some extent transitional with drier semi-evergreen and lower montane forests, and thus is presumably suboptimal for this rabbit.

Camera-trapping from the Hue SNR in central Viet Nam suggests that the species survives in secondary and heavily degraded forest.

There is one report of Annamite Striped Rabbit occurrence far from wet evergreen forest, in western Khammouan province, Lao PDR. This was based upon the presentation of an image of the rabbit to local villagers and a positive response from the villagers that the animal was present in their area. However, other independent evidence indicates that identification of animal images (including mammals as distinctive as the tiger (Panthera tigris) and the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis)) by local villagers is often not reliable. The area reported is a mosaic of karst and rural agriculture, far from wet evergreen forest. Occurrence in this area would, if confirmed, represent a substantial increase in the species’ known range, and would require a comprehensive rethink of biogeographic patterns of occurrence of not only this species, but other Annamite associates as well. On this survey, it was also reported that they found small leporid tracks, and that villagers stated that the animal with which they identified as the Annamite striped rabbit was common in the area and an occasional pest of rice fields. Factors contesting occurrence in this region are the lack of any evidence of Annamite striped rabbit in western Lao PDR despite extensive camera-trapping and the absence of trade records of it in the several fresh wildlife meat markets around Khammouan’s western karst. Kha-nyou Laonastes aenigmamus and several other small mammal species of karst are found in these markets quite frequently. There is no confirmation from anywhere in its range of Annamite striped rabbit occurrence in any habitat remote from wet evergreen forest.

Image | © Aurelie-Charmeau, All Rights Reserved
Sources | (Can, Abramov, Tikhonov, & Averianov, 2001; Hoedl, 2012; Jin, Tomida, Wang, & Zhang, 2010; Lamxay, 2013; Rundel 1999; Tilker, 2013c; Tilker, et al., 2019; Timmins, 2013; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2021b)

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