Until very recently the markets of Muang Singh, Luang Nam Tha, Phonsavan and Vang Viang were teeming with live and dead forest animals. Squirrels, civet cats, forest rats, bats, beavers, porcupine and their close relative the ‘sinhawn’ as well as an enormous variety of birds including owls and pheasants were offered from market stalls all over the country.
Now, under pressure from foreign NGOs and wildlife organizations, local authorities have banned some produce from public sale, which might offend foreigners. But the loss of rare species has barely slowed.
In 2005, Tom Vater trekked into the jungles of Laos to witness the killing of endangered species.
His journey has just been republished in Traversing the Orient Magazine.