Trapped rare animals saved from Vietnam poachers

By Tran Hoa   June 1, 2024 | 02:00 am PT
Chu Mom Ray National Park conservationists have rescued countless wild animals from traps in the Central Highlands Province of Kon Tum over the past six years.

Le Van Nghia, a 39-years-old commander at the Bar Gok Forest Protection Station, prepared for a three-day forest patrol with four colleagues at the end of May.

One of the patrol's missions was to release animals from illegal traps placed by hunters, trappers, traders, skin dealers, many of whom are outrage poachers as most of the species in the national park are protected from human interference. Trapping, killing or trading them is considered a crime.

"In the rainy season, many animals seek out water sources to look for food. Hunters and trappers take advantage of this to set up traps along streams," Nghia said.

Một góc Vườn quốc gia Chư Mom Ray. Ảnh: Trần Hóa

A part of Chu Mom Ray National Park in Kon Tum Province. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

The 56-hectare Chu Mom Ray National Park, located in Sa Thay and Ngoc Hoi districts in Kon Tum Province, adjacent to the border with Laos and Cambodia, is home to rare flora and fauna species. The wide and extensive range of biodiversity and genetic resources the park boasts as home garnered it recognition as an ASEAN heritage site by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2004.

Trappers often mark the locations of the animal traps they set by removing some brush and cutting nearby branches and tree trunks so they can find the spot later, added Nghia, an experienced forest guard.

After trekking 3 km into the forest, the squad saw newly cut raw wounds in some trees where branches had obviously been recently cut off in the same way poachers create signs to signal the locations of their traps.

The posse carefully looked around and discovered four trapped animals.

After 17 years as a national park ranger and wildlife protection guard, Nghia, with the help of his colleagues has rescued hundreds of trapped animals from what otherwise would have meant certain death, if not in the trap, then soon thereafter at the hands of the criminals trapping and hunting them for commercial purposes.

According to Nghia, most of the trapped animals he has freed during his career have been squirrels and monkeys.

During the rangers' latest patrol the previous week, the squad came across a pig-tailed macaque whose legs were caught tight in a trap.

The rangers removed the trap, then examined the monkey for injuries and released it.

Chu Mom Ray rangers release a pig-tailed macaque after saving it from a trap. Video courtesy of Chu Mom Ray National Park

"The monkey did not run away at first," said Nghia. "It followed our group for a while – as though it were showing its gratitude – before it went on its own way."

Nguyen Ba Nam, a leader of Ya Lan Forest Protection Station, spoke about when he came upon a trapped wild boar on patrol in September last year.

The animal was stuck and needed help but was extremely aggressive towards humans. To rescue it, Nam had to wait until the beast had waned itself of thrashing and slashing about at the human presence from its cage.

He said handling large animals can be extremely dangerous if they are not dealt with carefully, and with expert precision.

Lực lượng bảo vệ rừng tháo gỡ bẫy thú trong chuyến đi thực tế. Ảnh: Ngọc Oanh

Chu Mom Ray rangers remove an animal trap during a patrol. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Oanh

Chu Mom Ray National Park built the Center for Biodiversity Conservation and Ecotourism, aiming to rescue and conserve wild animals. The center takes in animals rescued and released from traps, but the facility’s real specialty is providing special care and treatment for injured animals.

Staff member Tran Anh Nguyet said the center received a 2-month-old langur monkey in 2020. Caretaking was extremely difficult because the animal was undernourished and extremely small and weak.

"Everyone worried about the monkey’s condition and treated it as their baby," Nguyet said.

But after months of conscientious care, the monkey recovered, learned skills that enabled it to return to its wild habitat, and was then eventually released back into its natural environment.

To improve its wild animal care, the national park has recruited many highly specialized veterinary staff. Over the past six years, the park has removed 30,800 traps and rescued 344 varieties of animals, said Dao Xuan Thuy, Director of Chu Mom Ray National Park.

The park has installed 100 security cameras since 2023 that have helped cut down on the instances of hunters, trappers and poachers pillaging the park's valuable wildlife.

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