Vietnam’s Pu Mat National Park in the Annamite Mountains is one of the most important sites for conservation in Vietnam, in particular for a host of mammal species that have recently captured the imaginations of biologists and writers alike, including the wild cow-like Critically Endangered Saola, the Critically Endangered Large-antlered Muntjac, the Annamite Striped Rabbit, Owston’s Civet, Northern White-cheeked Crested Gibbon and a host of endangered tortoises and terrapins. Local indigenous communities consider Pu Mat National Park sacred “spirit forests” that are important in local animist traditions.
Despite Pu Mat’s important role in providing a safe haven for a wealth of bird, amphibian, mammal and reptile species, rampant poaching in the park is devastating animal populations. Poachers set wire foothold snares indiscriminately to catch ground-dwelling animals for the illegal wildlife trade. Rangers can collect thousands of snares in a single day and if snaring continues at the current intensity, Pu Mat will be emptied of the biodiversity that helps make it one of our planet’s irreplaceable places.
Stemming the tide of poaching will require a much better understanding of the distribution, population and natural history of the region’s hooved mammal (ungulate) communities. Using camera traps extensively across the large and rugged park, GWC and partners are teaming up to conduct the first-ever comprehensive assessment of ground dwelling species across Pu Mat National Park, which will inform our targeted anti-poaching strategy.
Ultimately this project aims to recover the populations of priority species within Pu Mat National Park. We will do this by decreasing the huge threat of indiscriminate poaching that is taking a toll on wildlife, helping to effectively conserve species such as the Saola, Large-antlered Muntjac and Northern White-cheeked Crested Gibbon. With species such as Saola and Large-antlered Muntjac on the very brink of extinction, creating a model where zero poaching is effectively obtained within the Annamite Mountains will not only provide these and other species with a lifeline to survival, but will also act as a model for other sites across the region to work toward.
With the park, and our local university and conservation organization partners, we plan to:
- Monitor populations of large terrestrial mammals and measure the impacts of threats and conservation actions on these populations.
- Establish a species monitoring system in Pu Mat National Park.
- Use survey findings to focus anti-poaching efforts in conjunction with both Pu Mat National Park’s Forest Protection Department and Fauna and Flora International.
- Strengthen protection efforts to demonstrably reduce threats to the biodiversity of Pu Mat National Park.
- Protect the cultural and natural heritage of the Dan Lai and Thai communities by working with them to save their endemic biodiversity.
- Establish an ideal model of conservation stakeholder involvement, employing local people in biodiversity surveys and anti-poaching efforts as an alternative source of income to local communities that would otherwise rely on wildlife products for revenue.
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Critically Endangered Saola, the Critically Endangered Large-antlered Muntjac, the Annamite Striped Rabbit, Owston’s Civet, Northern White-cheeked Crested Gibbon and a host of others
Conduct the first-ever comprehensive assessment of ground dwelling species across