VN’s douc face risk of extinction due to deforestation

Hundreds of hectares of protected forest in Tam My Tay Commune, Quang Nam Province, are being cut down. The alarming deforestation is not only posing a threat to water sources, but also the existence of the gray-shanked douc, which has been listed in the Red Data Book.

A large tree illegally cut down by lumberjacks

Phu Ninh Lake is one of the largest irrigation works in the country. It ensures the supply of water to thousands of hectares of agricultural land in Quang Nam Province and is the source of safe water for residents of Tam Ky City.

Locals say that the destruction of vast primeval forests will lead to the exhaustion of the water supply to Phu Ninh Lake in the dry season, and the risk of the dyke being breached by flooding in the rainy season will increase.

Not merely an irrigation work, Phu Ninh is also an attractive ecological zone harboring more than 20 endangered fauna and flora species listed in the Red Book, including the gray- shanked douc (Pygathrix cinerea), a native animal of central provinces and the highlands that faces extinction.

According to recent scientific studies, the total population of the primates is estimated between 700 to 1000 individuals.

At present, the natural habitat of the troop of primates in Nui Thanh has been narrowed to two small plots of primitive forest growing in a deep chasm between the two mountain sides.

Tran Van Chung, head of nearby Hamlet 10 of Tam My Tay Commune, said, “This troop has some thirty primates. It used to be larger, but the population is now falling due to the narrowing of forests.

“As soon as they discovered the primates a decade ago, locals reported their existence to relevant authorities, but no measures have been taken to protect them,“ said Mr Chung.

Mr Chung emphasized that every day the animals are facing the risk of extinction due to the fragmentation of their natural habitat. He said, “The loss of habitat makes them more prone to contact with people.”

He pointed out that a few years ago, a hunter trapped a primate and slaughtered it for food. Not very long ago, another hunter trapped a female douc with her baby.

He slaughtered the mother and sold her baby to an official from Quang Nam Agricultural Department for VND800,000. The baby douc was later sent to the Cuc Phuong Primate Rehabilitation Center.

Explaining why the province has not yet planned to protect the troop, Pham Chi Thanh, deputy director of Quang Nam Forestry Management Department, said that five years ago, the Nui Thanh Forestry Management Office did propose measures but the province does not have enough funds.

A gray- shanked douc (Pygathrix cinerea) (Photo: Tuoi Tre Online)

He added that what the province can do now is to ask the office to speed up the task of raising local people’s awareness of the importance of the forests, as well as the troop of douc in Phu Ninh primitive forest.

Nguyen Thi Thu Hien, an official at the Cuc Phuong Primate Rehabilitation Center, said that to save the troop of douc from extinction, municipal authorities should take action now, otherwise it will be too late.

As a measure, July 7, Nguyen Thanh Quang, director of Quang Nam Department of Agricultural and Rural Development, said that he has worked with officials from the office and People’s Committee to act against deforestation in Tam My Tay Commune.

Accordingly, Mr Quang has instructed the office to improve the task of protecting the forests and at the same time make investigations into violations.

Any organization, agency, company or individual that is found destroying the forests will be prosecuted.  

By Nguyen Khoi- Translated by Phuong Lan

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