Deforestation and hunting threaten rare rabbit species
A rare and elusive rabbit has been found, held and photographed by a researcher from the University of East Anglia (UEA).
The Annamite Striped rabbit, found in the forests of Laos and Vietnam, was first documented by rabbit expert Dr Diana Bell and colleagues from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences in the journal Nature in 1999. It has rarely been seen since.
Under the tutelage of Dr Bell and in collaboration with a team from WWF Vietnam, Sarah Woodfin embarked on her trip to study the rabbit – which is named after its home in the Annamite mountains.
She said: “I didn’t expect that I would ever see one up close. I thought that if I was very lucky, I might see one from a distance in the forest. I certainly never expected that I would have the opportunity to hold one of these magnificent animals. I was utterly delighted. My team and I encountered the rabbit completely by chance on the first night of my trip."
Sarah travelled to the WWF conservation area to survey and analyse the rabbit’s habitat and vegetation. She plans to use this information to model the potential distribution of the rabbit which will help further conservation efforts.
She added: “It is genetically very distinct from other rabbit species. Sadly there is a possibility that this species could be at risk of extinction due to deforestation and hunting. It is therefore extremely important that we understand as much as possible about this species so that we can evaluate its conservation status and implement appropriate conservation measures.”
The research project is funded by ZGap (the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations) and the Thrigby Hall Conservation Fund.