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Laonastes aenigmamus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA DIATOMYIDAE

Scientific Name: Laonastes aenigmamus
Species Authority: Jenkins, Kilpatrick, Robinson & Timmins, 2005
Common Name(s):
English Laotian Rock Rat
Taxonomic Notes: Originally placed in the family Laonastidae, this species is now assigned to the family Diatomyidae, which was previously represented only by species identified from the fossil record.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Aplin, K. & Lunde, D.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Listed as Endangered as it has a range of less than 5,000 km2, being largely confined to the Khammouan Limestone National Biodiversity Conservation Area, and it is currently undergoing continuing decline in its area of occupancy, area and quality of habitat, and number of mature individuals due to hunting.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Most specimens of this recently described species were collected from Thakhek District, Khammouan Province (Lao PDR), including several localities in the vicinity of the villages of Ban Mauang and Ban Doy, and were also reported to have been trapped at Ban Dong, 23 km from the turning to Gnommalat. Specimens were also extracted from owl pellets within the limestone cave system Tam En (Swift Cave), 67 km north of Mauang and 3 km north east of Ban Tonglom, Hinboun District, Khammouan Province (Lao PDR). Other specimens have been observed at roadside stalls between Thakhek and Gnommalat, that were apparently obtained from limestone outcrops of the Khammouan Limestone National Biodiversity Conservation Area (Jenkins et al. 2005).
Countries:
Native:
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There is no reliable information on the population status of this species, but they have been found in bushmeat markets.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It was trapped in large limestone boulders varying in size up to several metres, on steep slopes surrounding karst formations, where traps were set on bare earth under and between boulders. The slopes were covered in both evergreen and deciduous trees, but with little ground vegetation. Low lying areas away from the karst had been cleared for the cultivation of paddy rice. Villagers reported that the animals were caught only in the vicinity of the karst (Jenkins et al. 2005). It is not clear whether the species is able to use, in addition to scree slopes around the base of the karst, the massive karst limestone formations themselves, nor whether it is able to exist in secondary scrub habitats.
Believed to be nocturnal. Morphological features of the hypsodont molars, capacious stomach, a large caecum and appendix combined with evidence of plant remains in the stomach, suggest that it is primarily vegetarian in its diet. In an analysis of dietary toothwear by Gina Semprebon, which guages the probable diet of the last few meals, fine wear on the teeth suggested that leaves formed the diet of one individual, while there was evidence of grass and seed in the diet of a second specimen (Jenkins et al. 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Limestone habitats in general are relatively safe from large scale destruction; however, tree cover in peripheral and accessible karst areas is very vulnerable to loss due to logging and firewood removal. The species is found in bushmeat markets, and it is unclear whether it is able to tolerate the very high levels of offtake that is ubiquitous within its known range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is present in the Khammouan Limestone National Biodiversity Conservation Area. Further survey work is needed to assess the current population status of this species, and levels of offtake and harvest.

Citation: Aplin, K. & Lunde, D. 2008. Laonastes aenigmamus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 October 2014.
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