Species and habitat inventory, distribution and movement studies were conducted for a range of conservationally-important terrestrial species (including the Asian elephant and many species of turtles and tortoises) prior to impoundment, with a view to formulating and implementing a post-impoundment species management program. A new wetland area has been constructed to offer an alternative habitat for some of these animals. There has also been focus on public awareness and prevention and prohibition of wildlife trade. Wildlife patrols have been trained and are now in operation to prevent hunting and allow wildlife to relocate unassisted. NTPC also put in place an emergency response team to rescue wildlife that was stranded during impoundment. 268 individual animals from 49 species were captured and rereleased into the National Protected Area. Many were fitted with radio-collars to allow the Project to monitor their safety. Rare species that were rescued and studied include the large-antlered muntjac, the striped-back weasel and the colugo.
Transect and visual surveys carried out with the support of program partner WCS have estimated the Nakai-Nam Theun elephant population at around 140 individual animals. This makes it one of the most significant herds of Asian elephant left in the wild. The elephants avoided problems during the inundation of the reservoir and are now spotted most frequently at the southern end of the Plateau. Artificial mineral licks have been constructed to replace sites lost to the inundation, and these are being used by the elephants and other wild animals. Phase II of the Elephant Program commenced in June 2006 and is now implementing the post-inundation elephant management plan. Activities include human-elephant contact monitoring and training villagers in passive and active crop protection measures.