Endangered animals spotted in Central Highlands national park

By Nguyen Quy   July 7, 2020 | 08:40 am GMT+7

21 rare and endangered species, seven globally threatened, have been found inside Bidoup - Nui Ba National Park in Lam Dong Province.

The discovery was revealed last week from the first large-scale camera-trap survey at the park, around 50 km from Da Lat in the Central Highlands. It was jointly carried out by the park’s management board, the Southern Institute of Ecology, and the German-based Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research from October 2019 to March 2020.

Although the study remains ongoing, the first camera-trap data revealed exceptionally high mammal diversity.

Le Van Huong, director of the park, told Vietnam Plus: "Rare animals that have slipped into extinction in other parts of Vietnam are still thriving in the forests of Bidoup - Nui Ba. This protected area is a valuable landscape for Vietnam and global biodiversity conservation."

One of the most unexpected findings was a set of images of an albino porcupine. Porcupines are still relatively abundant across many protected areas in Vietnam, but all-white porcupines are extremely uncommon.

The image of an albino porcupine captured by camera traps at the Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park in Lam Dong Province. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency.

An albino porcupine captured by camera traps at the Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park in Lam Dong Province. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency.

No one has heard of albino porcupines in the natural forests of Southeast Asia. The discovery of albino porcupines makes Bidoup - Nui Ba special because of their rarity.

The most important findings of the survey are several camera trap images of the large-antlered muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis), a deer species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as critically endangered. Conservationists believed the species extinct in most forests in Vietnam.

In addition to the large-antlered muntjac, camera traps also recorded another critically-endangered species - the Owston’s civet (Chrotogale owstoni). It is listed as endangered by IUCN because of ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 50 percent over the last three decades, inferred from over-exploitation, habitat destruction and degradation.

The image of a civet (Chrotogale owstoni) captured by camera traps in Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency.

A civet (Chrotogale owstoni) captured by camera traps in Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park in Lam Dong Province. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency.

Scientists also obtained numerous photographs of a sun bear.

The bear had suffered injuries to its front leg, sparking concerns over illegal hunting. The species is now incredibly rare in the wild, partly because many of them had been caught and taken to bear bile farms throughout Vietnam.

A sun bear recorded from the camera trap suffers injuries to its front leg. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency.

A sun bear suffering injuries to its front leg is captured by camera traps in Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park in Lam Dong Province. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency.

The last known photo of a sun bear in the wild was taken almost 20 years ago in Cat Tien National Park, approximately 150 km north of Ho Chi Minh City.

The survey aimed to explore the diversity of birds and mammals and develop a monitoring program that could assess the status and population dynamics of endangered species. During the first phase, scientists set up 140 camera traps, with each 2.5 km apart. The second phase is implemented from April to August 2020, with about 120 locations to be surveyed.

Covering an area of 34,943 ha, Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park forms the core of Langbiang Biosphere Reserve, which was given UNESCO status in June 2015.

According to expert assessment, the core area of Langbiang Biosphere Reserve comprises a corridor of biodiversity sustaining life for 14 proto-tropical ecosystems in Vietnam, with the highest biodiversity in Southeast Asia. This habitat is also home to many wildlife species, some rare and endangered.

 
 
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