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Monkeying around: farmers focused on langur protection



Starting out as a voluntary group since 2011 to safeguard some 20 flocks of Hatinh langurs (Trachypithecus hatinhensis), a team of 14 farmers in Tuyen Hoa District of Quang Binh Province is working hard to protect the endangered species.

Monkeying around: farmers focused on langur protection
Members of the Hatinh langur protection team join a patrol in a forest in Tuyen Hoa District of Quang Binh Province. The voluntary team has been working in the protection of the primates for decades. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Thanh Tu 

The team, which was previously 80 per cent men, has recruited several female farmers over the last five years, for tracking on karst mountain trails to protect the primate population from poachers. They are the first female volunteers to do such work in central Vietnam.

Doan Thi Hoi, whose husband is also a team member, said she initially just followed her husband, Nguyen Van Hong, in trailing the primates, when she had time off from farm work, but soon became fascinated by the lively mammals.

Monkeying around: farmers focused on langur protection
The Hatinh langur (Trachypithecus hatinhensis) is an endangered species. Photo courtesy of Bui Van Tuan 

“At first, I followed a jungle trek with my husband, but I then found the jungle trips with langurs were just so interesting. We arrange time at least once per week to visit the primates,” Hoi said.

She said her husband, formerly a skilled hunter in Thanh Hoa Village – had stopped illegal hunting to become one of two key members of the team a few years ago.

The 51-year-old farmer said almost all team members earn a living from rice farming and labour intensive jobs, but always spare time to visit the langurs who they see as friends.

“We come to check what dangers threaten them. We see them like our kids and family members,” she said. 

Voluntary work

Monkeying around: farmers focused on langur protection
Women members of the langur protection team take a jungle trip in Tuyen Hoa District of Quang Binh Province. They are the first women volunteers in the protection of the primates in central Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Thanh Tu 

Hoi said that they brought water to the langurs in the dry season (between April and June) when water sources were limited.

“Each of us carries one or two containers of water to keep in the rock hollows. It takes us two or three hours to trek up to seven kilometres to the langurs’ shelters. We are so happy when the langurs do not go away as we approach them up close,” she said.

Ha Thi Thu Hien, 35, from Son Hoa Commune has spent five years tracking the langurs with the team leader, Nguyen Thanh Tu, a retired border soldier, in jungle patrols and wildlife protection campaigns.

“It’s hard for women trekking uphill, and it gets even harder with sloppy paths in the rainy season,” Hien said.

She said her four-member family, including two primary school aged children, still reserved time for visiting the langurs in their free time, even though they were often busy working on the rice farms.

“At first, our patrol did not get support from the villagers as our jungle trips earn nothing, but they eventually understood our work,” Hien said.

“The community has acknowledged the langur population is endangered, and that the existence of them was important to the environment and that the protection would promote the honour of the locals.”

Monkeying around: farmers focused on langur protection
Nguyen Thanh Tu, head of the langur protection team in Tuyen Hoa District, watches the langurs in the forest. His team has received awards for environment protection from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in 2021. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Thanh Tu 

Hien said each member of the team had recently been given an allowance of VND300,000 (US$13) for travel costs from the Centre for Highlands Natural Resources Governance (Cegorn) – a local NGO – and training courses for wildlife conservation.

Head of the team Tu, 59, said the langur population had been growing well since the team had been monitoring them from 2012.

He said he could only see 10 groups of langurs back then, but at the latest count were 22 flocks with 156 individuals as of July of 2021.

Tu said at least 20 new langurs were born each year according to data and field surveys of the team over the past 10 years.

He said two flocks of Assam macaque (Macaca assamensis), with a total of 30 individuals were also found living in the regional forest.

“We do not have good equipment to track down the primates, only two binoculars, jungle trekking experience and manual records on the existence of the animals. Cegorn began supporting the team with technical assistance in June of 2021,” Tu said.

“However, a few of us have smartphones to utilise software on the supervision of the primate population. The team, in co-operation with local rangers, hosts wildlife protection awareness communication for at least 200 locals who work on farms near the langurs’ natural habitats.”

The team leader said female members had made great contributions to the protection of Hatinh langurs by boosting awareness among local people, removing traps and snares, as well as blocking illegal hunting in the region.

The team assigns members to patrol territories in the four communes of Thach Hoa, Dong Hoa, Son Hoa and Thuan Hoa, but they will also group together in a mass trekking expedition if needed, he added.

The endless efforts of the team paid off when the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment recently presented them with awards for protection of the endangered species.

The central province of Quang Binh also approved the establishment of a strict protection zone over 710 hectares of special-use forest area to protect 22 Hatinh langur flocks in Tuyen Hoa.

Monkeying around: farmers focused on langur protection
Langur protection team members trek in the jungle to follow the movement of endangered primates in Tuyen Hoa District of Quang Binh Province. Photo courtesy of Nguyen Thanh Tu 

Local authorities have also banned limestone mining and mineral exploitation activities in the area and surrounding communes to ensure a safe habitat for the endangered primates.

The existence of the langurs has lured international biologists, conservationists and wildlife photographers to visit the site in recent years.

“We are so happy. Our endeavour was recognised by the local community and authorities, but the growing population of the endangered langurs is an even more priceless prize for us. This poverty-stricken region is now on the map for having some of the most precious animals in Vietnam and the world,” Tu said. 

Source: Vietnam News



Urgent action needed on primate protection




An individual grey-shanked douc langur (Pygathrix cinerea), one of the world’s 25 Critically Endangered primates, is found living in a forest of Quảng Nam Province. Photo courtesy of Ái Tâm

Since the government’s Decision 628 – an action plan for the protection of the primate species in Việt Nam–  was issued in 2017, a total of 684 endangered douc langurs, including 86 grey-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix cinerea), one of the world’s 25 Critically Endangered primates, have been captured by rangers and authorities in 80 illegal hunting and wildlife trafficking cases.

However, a report by ENV, an NGO focused on wildlife protection, showed that only 30 per cent of total poaching violations in Việt Nam were discovered, while 70 per cent were unknown, meaning that the number of the langurs hunted in the forest was unclear.

Biologists, conservationists and experts shared the report at a conference on the conservation activities on endangered primates in the central provinces Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Bình Định, Phú Yên, Gia Lai and Kon Tum, and discussed further actions from 2025 to 2030.

They agreed that illegal wildlife hunting, the expansion of coffee and log farms, poor management and planning on the protection of the primates species in the six provinces had been raising threats to the conservation of endangered primates.


A log farm raises dangers of erosion after cutting every five years. The forest area in the region has been narrowed, leaving space for profitable timber, coffee, pepper and rubber plantations. Photo Công Thành 

Expert Hà Thăng Long, head of the representative office of the Frankfurt Zoological Society in Việt Nam, said urgent action was needed for more effective protection of the langurs from becoming extinct in the six provinces where from 2,200 to 2,500 individuals are living in the primary forest or strictly protected nature reserves.

“A strategic management and protection plan on the grey-shanked douc langur in nature outside of the protected special-use forest have been built at the six localities, but there is a lack of funds and poor cooperation in sharing information and data on the existence of the langurs among the six local authorities,” Long said.

“The expansion of log and coffee farms in the primary forest and control on illegal wildlife trafficking and hunting in the core zone of nature reserves have sped up series threats to the existence of the grey-shanked douc langur and other primates species.” 


An expert checks a forest area of Kon Ka Kinh National Park in Gia Lai Province. The park is home to 800 grey-shanked douc langur (Pygathrix cinerea). Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Thị Tịnh 

Long explained the separation of forest areas due to the construction of roads and hydropower plants would raise more dangers to the langurs.

A report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development unveiled that the central region lost 34,000ha of forest due to illegal logging and land clearance for coffee, rubber and acacia plantations.

The forested area had dropped by 180,000ha, of which 112,000ha had been destroyed or occupied by the expansion of other crop plantations, and 37,000ha for building hydropower plants and roads between 2010-15, the report detailed.

Nguyễn Thị Thu Hiền, a member of the three-monkeys conservation, an NGO, said since the first grey-shanked douc langur individual was rescued in 1995 and then described by German primatologist Tilo Nadler in 1997, 62  Critically Endangered langurs including 26 babies, had been seized from illegal trafficking and hunting cases at the Cúc Phương-based Endangered Primate Rescue Centre.

She said a rescued baby langur meant that its mother or father had been killed.

Hiền said 72 grey-shanked douc langurs were rescued from trafficking and hunting violations in Kon Tum, Quảng Ngãi and Bình Định from 2010 to 2020.

She said more reserves of primate species and a survey on the existence and habitat of the grey-shanked douc langurs in the region were needed.

Gia Lai’s Kon Ka Kinh National Park and Kon Tum’s Kon Plong forest are the two largest homes of Critically Endangered langurs with about 1,300.

Oliver Wearn from Fauna & Flora International (FFI) said a survey from experts and researchers working at FFI in 2015-16 found that Kon Plong forest sheltered from 31 to 35 herds of grey-shanked douc langurs with a population of more than 500.

He said the langurs would be found living in the forest by local communities from 2000, yet a protection plan for the langurs was built at Kon Plong.

He said Critically Endangered langurs had been facing different threats such as forest degradation, habitat separation, log exploitation and road construction.

He said FFI and partners had cooperated with local authorities and forest owners to support technical and sustainable management plans on forests, build surveys on wildlife hunting and trafficking and assess human resources training.

Trần Hữu Vỹ, director of the Centre of Biodiversity Conservation, said residents in Tam Mỹ Tây Commune in Quảng Nam’s Núi Thành District were engaged in the voluntary protection of a herd of grey-shanked douc langurs from 1997.


A poster of a red-shanked douc langur is displayed calling for protection of the primates species in Việt Nam. Photo Công Thành 

The province plans to expand the protected area to 100ha from 30ha and link it with the Phú Ninh protected forest to build a nature reserve in the future.

Lê Khắc Quyết from FFI also said it needed to speed up protection plans for the primates species in Việt Nam, and actions must be urgently made to save the endangered primates from extinction.

He said various plans for primates protection in 2025 had been slowly implemented, including building three primates rescue centres, reducing 70 per cent of hunting cases and 70 per cent of rangers being trained in primate protection.

Experts also said that sustainable management and exploitation of forestry products in forests and promoting education among local communities in the reserves would be seen as positive solutions for the protection of endangered primates species in the central region.


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Hà Nội needs to combine green growth with urban development




Bảy Mẫu Lake and Thống Nhất Park in Hai Bà Trưng District, Hà Nội. — VNA/ Photo Thành Đạt

HÀ NỘI — The capital Hà Nội is focusing on urban development towards green and sustainable growth and building a smart and modern city.

According to the Hà Nội Construction Department, the city has paid attention to implementing environmental protection and improvement toward green and sustainable urban development.

The city has also invested in and completed the environment monitoring system in polluted areas and publicised monitoring results in the media to improve the capacity and efficiency of management, forecasting and control of environmental pollution.

Accordingly, the city has put 10 automatic air monitoring stations, one mobile monitoring vehicle, one wastewater and air monitoring station at the Nam Sơn Waste Treatment Complex, and six automatic water surface monitoring stations.

The station data is transmitted to management centres for monitoring and processing.

The work of undergrounding the electric and communication cables, planting trees, and embellishing the street pavement have been done synchronously. Thanks to that, the face of the city is getting greener, cleaner and more beautiful.

Besides, the development of public green outdoor spaces has been gradually meeting the needs of urban residents. From 2015-to 2020, the city has built 382 works of public spaces.

In recent years, the municipal authority has paid special attention to renovating and upgrading the flower gardens and parks system in the central urban area to create typical architectural and landscape spaces of the capital.

The current large parks such as Thủ Lệ and Bách Thảo parks in Ba Đình District, Thống Nhất and Tuổi Trẻ parks in Hai Bà Trưng District have an area of ​​10-50ha each along with natural lakes and flower gardens make the city’s landscape beautiful and improve the microclimate for the areas.

Along with the projected investment by the State budget, many public works such as parks, flower gardens, squares and lakes in new residential areas are invested in and built by the investors.

Five water supply projects have been completed, bringing the total capacity of the water supply of water plants in the city to about 1.5 million cu.m per day. This means 100 per cent of the city’s population can have access to clean water.

Currently, the rate of public green land area in inner cities reaches 7.87 sq.m per person, and the average rate of garbage collection in urban areas is over 97.6 per cent. The city’s waste is treated by landfilling and incineration.

The amount of domestic wastewater collected and treated meets 28.8 per cent of the total generated volume.

Currently, waste and wastewater discharge and treatment of almost 100 per cent of industrial parks and large-scale production facilities are well monitored.


Although green growth indicators are improving, there are many limitations and shortcomings, according to the Hà Nội Construction Department.

Specifically, the land fund for green areas is still limited.

The city-managed parks and flower gardens in four inner-city districts of Hoàn Kiếm, Ba Đình, Hai Bà Trưng and Đống Đa are public works that were built for a long time and have started degrading while there is lack of land fund for building new parks in densely populated areas such as Cầu Giấy and Hoàng Mai districts.

Another feature is that Hà Nội has many lakes, especially a very large lake – the West Lake, but the lakes often have to receive a large amount of untreated wastewater that make them gradually become shallower over time, accumulating a thick layer of mud of 0.5 – 1m.

Most of the lakes are not embanked, so it is difficult to control illegal encroachment and garbage dumping into the lakes.

According to the Hà Nội Natural Resources and Environment Department, the city’s urban natural water surface area decreased by 11.11ha in 2015 and 192.52ha by 2020.

Thus, from 2015-to 2020, the total urban natural water surface area dropped by 203.63ha.

In general, the water surface and agricultural land areas are gradually shrinking due to the fast urbanisation rate in the city. Many ponds and lakes have been filled to make the land for urban residential and technical infrastructure development, let alone the situation of people illegally encroaching on the water surface areas for doing business.

The city still lacks specific and appropriate mechanisms and policies to encourage all economic sectors and people to participate in growing green trees.

Financial resources for investment in upgrading and building clean water supply infrastructure are limited, and many clean water supply plants have not invested in modern technology.

Regarding the waste treatment, the waste separation at the source has not been implemented synchronously, and the waste collection and recycling are entirely spontaneous.

The construction progress of waste treatment plants is still slow due to difficulty choosing investors and the lack of regulations on waste treatment.

Fund mobilisation for green growth

To reach the targets of urban construction towards green growth for 2021-25, the Construction Department has proposed the city mobilise and arrange resources for the implementation and acceleration of related projects.

The city also needs to make a plan to mobilise resources for applying science and technology to green growth in urban areas, improving urban-rural connectivity, and investing in urban waste and wastewater treatment.

The city also needs to further invest in the construction and renovation of low-income residential areas and building more public spaces.

In addition, it is necessary to complete legal documents and promulgate mechanisms and policies to mobilise domestic and international resources for urban development towards green growth and climate change response. —




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Việt Nam joins efforts to restore ecosystems




Painted stock (giang sen) birds being taken care of at Đồng Tháp Mười bird sanctuary, in the southern province of Tiền Giang, in the hopes of breeding more of the extremely rare species. VNA/ Photo Minh Trí


HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam is joining common efforts to restore ecosystems in response to International Day for Biological Diversity 2022 (May 22) themed “Building a shared future for all life”.

Currently, the risk of biodiversity degradation and ecosystem imbalance remains high, directly affecting food security and driving people towards the risk of poverty, genetic resource depletion and especially climate change. Therefore, the restoration and protection of ecosystems and biodiversity have become a global issue.

Việt Nam currently boasts 173 conservation zones with a total area of more than 2.5 million hectares, including 33 national parks, 66 nature reserves, 18 species and habitat conservation areas, and 56 landscape protection zones. In particular, the country houses nine UNESCO-recognised “World Biosphere Reserves” and three “World Natural Heritage Sites”, nine Ramsar sites and 10 ASEAN Heritage Parks.

Việt Nam has 128 special-use forests, mostly small and scattered ones, that make up the country’s system of protected areas. However, many of them have degraded not only in scale but also in the quality of habitat.

In order to improve the declining quality of the environment, localities across the country have actively responded to the tree-planting movement to protect the ecological environment and limit the negative effects of climate change.

Việt Nam is considered one of the most important areas in the flyway network of migratory and endemic birds, with 63 globally important bird zones and seven endemic bird zones.

By now, the country has recorded more than 900 bird species, of which 99 need conservation attention, 10 are critically endangered, and 17 are endangered.

On January 28, Deputy Prime Minister Lê Văn Thành signed a decision approving the national biodiversity strategy to 2030 with a vision towards 2050.

Under the strategy, the Government targets expanding the area of protected ecosystems to nine per cent of the country’s land area, and protected marine and coastal areas to three to five per cent of the total sea area.

Meanwhile, the forest coverage is expected to be kept at 42-43 per cent and at least 20 per cent of the degraded ecosystem area will be restored.

The Government will give priority to the conservation of wildlife species, particularly endangered, rare and precious fauna and flora species.

With a vision towards 2050, major natural ecosystems, endangered species, and precious and rare genetic resources will be restored and effectively preserved.

To that end, the strategy sets out key tasks such as intensifying biodiversity conservation and restoration, conserving and restoring endangered wild species, stepping up the conservation of genetic resources, and controlling activities that would harm biodiversity.

Most recently on May 17, the Deputy PM signed a decree on a number of urgent tasks and solutions to protect wild and migratory birds in Việt Nam. —


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