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12/01/2020 - 08:28

Phong Dien Nature Reserve records many rare and precious animals

Through the camera-trap program, Phong Dien Nature Reserve (located to the north of Hue city) recently discovered many rare and precious wildlife species which are thought to be extinct.

Stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides) is recorded to exist at Phong Dien Nature Reserve

Dedication and responsibility

For a long time, wildlife conservation in the forests of Phong Dien district and a part of the Truong Son ecoregion in A Luoi have been almost neglected. In the establishment of Phong Dien Nature Reserve, with less than 30 forest rangers managing nearly 42,000 ha of forest area, not to mention many deep forest areas, rugged streams which have made the process of wildlife management and conservation difficult.

"Only enthusiasm and a high sense of responsibility can the rangers overcome difficulties and stick to wildlife conservation," said Mr. Tran Xuan Hai, the one who has worked at Phong Dien Nature Reserve for many years.

Only less than 30 rangers, more than half of which do professional work and the rest, regardless of the rainy season or hot weather, are assigned to patrol and protect forests in general and wildlife animals in particular.

Sometimes the patrols last a week; therefore, the rangers have to eat and sleep in the deep forest. Because of the lack of food, they have to eat vegetables and tubers founded in the forests and drink spring water. The sleep is fluttering because they have always been alert to dangerous animals lurking.

Even with sanctions against wild animal hunters, forest rangers of Phong Dien Nature Reserve also face many difficulties and obstacles in the process of wildlife protection. Wildlife hunting is still recurring, widespread and difficult to prevent.

Since then, the rangers realized that effective conservation requires the involvement of local authorities and local people. During the patrols in the localities, forest rangers in collaboration with localities regularly organize propaganda to all hunting households, or suspected wildlife hunting households to raise their awareness of wildlife conservation.

Wherever the forest rangers go, they always bring along photos of rare and endangered animals to introduce to the locals to help them understand the roles and values of those species, and when the locals detect rare and precious animals as in the pictures, the rangers hope they will notify the authorities.

For the households in difficult circumstances and relying on wildlife hunting, Phong Dien Nature Reserve supports models of livelihood, husbandry and cultivation. This both gradually reduce pressure on forests and help those households stabilize their lives; at the same time, these households are would cooperate with the forest rangers to protect the forests and wildlife animals.

Not only Lophura edwardsi

Animal experts in the world and Vietnam were amazed also at the discovery of the rare chicken species.

During the hunting and trapping process in 1998, a villager from Hoa Bac village, Phong My commune (Phong Dien) caught a "strange chicken", which was then handed over to the forest ranger. This "strange chicken" was later confirmed by domestic and foreign experts as the Lophura edwardsi.

A rare species of pheasant has just been discovered in Phong Dien Nature Reserve

From the discovery of Lophura edwardsi appeared to be extinct, it was an opportunity and a condition for the province and the authorities to establish Phong Dien Nature Reserve in 2002 with an area of about 42,000 ha, concentrated on Phong Dien district and a part of A Luoi.

The reserve was originally established mainly for research, discovery and conservation of Lophura edwardsi. However, during the conservation process, forest rangers and the locals discovered more rare and precious wildlife species. Many of them have also been declared extinct, or are in danger of extinction, which are listed in the Red List of Vietnam and the world.

Survey results have recorded that, in Phong Dien Nature Reserve, there are 44 species (7 ordos and 20 familias); of which 19 species were included in the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature), accounting for 43%, and 16 species recorded in the Vietnam Red Book, accounting for 34%.

Director of Phong Dien Nature Reserve Management Board, Mr. Le Ngoc Tuan said that: “It is possible that in many deep forests in the province there have been many rare and precious wildlife species with a large number of individuals.”

Establishing a nature reserve is an opportunity to create a motivation for the forest protection sector to improve its role and responsibilities in forest protection and wildlife conservation. Experts and projects must be more interested in supporting conservation, especially wildlife species in Phong Dien forests and partly in A Luoi.

In addition, management and conservation activities must be organized, drastically, methodically and scientifically implemented. The campaign and livelihood support have really brought about benefits; so, wildlife hunting is gradually limited. By means of patrol, survey, especially through camera trap program recently, many rare and endangered wildlife species still exist in Phong Dien Nature Reserve.

In Phong Dien Nature Reserve, in the past time, many other valuable birds have been recorded such as Arborophila merlini, Arborophila chloropus, Crested Argus (Rheinardia ocellata), etc. Other rare and precious animals thought to be extinct have been discovered such as Sao la (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), Muntiacus vuquangensis, tigers, clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosi), Tibetan bear (Ursus tibetanus), Nomascus annamensis, Hemigalus derbyanus (Chrotogale owstoni), Stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides), etc.

Among the mammal species recorded, the first two species found in Phong Dien Nature Reserve are Sao la (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) and Muntiacus vuquangensis. These two species are currently known only in Vietnam and Laos.

Story and photos: Hoang Trieu

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