Community support may help save Vietnam's critically endangered primates

Community support may help save Vietnam's critically endangered primates


Posted on 06th November 2018 by Media Relations

Every two years, Taronga extends its reach by awarding funding to other organisations and conservation projects around the world. Since launching the Field Conservation Grants in 2008, Taronga has provided funding and staff support to 70 vital programs. Projects that have benefited from a Taronga Field Conservation Grant have helped to regenerate habitats, mitigate human-wildlife conflict, reduce poaching and trafficking and create opportunities for people and wildlife to live side by side.

Pu Mat National Park is one of Vietnam’s largest protected areas. At just over 90,000 hectares, it contains approximately 130 groups of gibbon, making it a global stronghold for this vanishing primate – in particular, the Northern White-cheeked Gibbon. Pu Mat NP has also been identified as a priority area for the critically endangered Saola – a species not found outside of Vietnam and virtually unknown in the wild.

Fauna and Flora International (FFI) was awarded a Taronga Field Grant in 2017 to assist with its conservation work for both species in Pu Mat NP. FFI is an international conservation organisation with more than 140 projects around the world. 

FFI’s recent achievements in Vietnam include:

Engaging local communities in forest protection

FFI has trained nine community conservation team members to use of a variety of monitoring equipment, including compasses, cameras and binoculars.  Follow-up training has also been provided on GPS use and the process of data collection. This equipment and training has been vital in ensuring effective gibbon and overall biodiversity monitoring across ‘No Kill Zones’ in the national park.

FFI also produced a 2018 calendar themed for the Vietnamese New Year festival, containing pictures and highlighting information on Saola and the Northern White-cheeked Gibbon in order to raise awareness in the community about these species. The project was very well received; Pu Mat National Park headquarters have requested FFI produce more calendars in future.

Supporting enforcement strategies within Pu Mat National Park

Pu Mat National Park forest rangers and community conservation team members have received training to ensure that data entry and subsequent reports are being done correctly. Quality data collection, entry, analysis and reporting are all essential tools needed to evaluate the monitoring efforts and develop effective conservation strategies.

In July 2017, FFI publicised the illegal use of animal snares and hunting guns by placing signs within two ‘No Kill Zones’ of Pu Mat National Park.  As a result, between August and December 2017, more than 318 snares and three hunting guns were handed in by local people voluntarily.  Similarly, this year, a total of 113 snares and two hunter huts were identified and destroyed by community conservation teams during patrols between January and April. 

Improving knowledge and capacity for biological monitoring

In December 2017, FFI delivered training to nine community conservation team members and 13 Forest Protection Department staff to increase their capacity to monitor biodiversity within Pu Mat National Park. Lessons included basic map and compass skills, the basic use of a GPS, species identification, along with the required information to be collected while monitoring gibbons and appropriate patrolling techniques.