Are wild tigers now extinct in Laos? In episode 72, Akchousanh “Akchou” Rasphone from Oxford‘s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit discusses her research which concludes that improvised snares appear to have decimated the country’s wild tiger population, a species whose worldwide population is now estimated to be around 200. Her open-access article “Documenting the demise of tiger and leopard, and the status of other carnivores and prey, in Lao PDR’s most prized protected area: Nam Et – Phou Louey,” was published in October 2019 with Marc Kéry, Jan Kamler, and David Macdonald in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation.



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Hosts / Producers

Doug Leigh & Ryan Watkins

How to Cite

Leigh, D., Watkins, R., & Rasphone, A.. (2020). Parsing Science – The Plight of the Tiger. figshare.


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Akchousanh Rasphone: Because the bush meat demand is very high, especially in China, it would still be a challenge for any species population in this protected area, as well as any other habitats in Laos.

Doug Leigh: This is Parsing Science, the unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science, as told by the researcher themselves. I’m Doug Leigh.

Ryan Watkins: And I’m Ryan Watkins. Today, in episode 72 of Parsing Science, we’ll talk with Akchou Rasphone from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford. She’ll talk with us about her five-year study which found that improvised snares have completely decimated the wild tiger population in Laos … a species whose worldwide population is now estimated to be just 200 animals. Here’s Akchou Rasphone.

Rasphone: Hi, my name is Akchousanh Rasphone and people call me Akchou. I was born in Savannakhet Province, which is six hours south of Vientiane, the capital of Laos. I did my bachelor degree in Geographic Information Systems in Australia. And then I did [a] Masters in Geographical Sciences at the National University of Australia. Then I went on and did [my] post graduate diploma in International Wildlife Conservation practice at the University of Oxford. I did my PhD in Zoology, which my topic focused on integral interactions of carnivores in Northern Laos.

Leigh: As part of her work as a Senior Conservationist and Biodiversity Monitoring Expert with Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Akchou carries out field research in the mountains of Laos, specifically within the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, or NEPL for short. So Ryan and I started out our conversation by asking her to tell us more about her homeland, as well as where her research is situated within it.

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