Sunday , May 28 2023

Poaching rampant as nature reserve opens for free on Son Tra peninsula

With Son Tra Nature Reserve requesting no entrance fee, poachers have turned it into their own backyard.

One day in early April, a group of photographers saved a silver weasel stuck in a trap after hearing it crying for help as they were trekking in the forest in the Son Tra Nature Reserve in Da Nang. Two of the photographers then joined a local to trek deeper into the forest, where they found 14 more animal traps placed in various positions.

According to the Inter-Forest Protection Division of Son Tra and Ngu Hanh Son districts, where the peninsula lies, it has conducted 74 patrols, including 27 raids in the reserve, so far this year, seizing around 400 animal traps, and demolishing two camps left behind by poachers. Rangers also rescued trapped turtles, squirrels and monkeys.

An animal trap found in Son Tra Nature Reserve, April 2, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Truong

An animal trap found in Son Tra Nature Reserve in Da Nang, April 2, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Truong

Ngo Truong Chinh, head of the division, said traps set around Son Tra Nature Reserve have been a common story for many years now and that the situation was only put under control during Covid-19 thanks to social distancing rules.

Experts attribute the problem of poaching to the easy entry to the area and the fact that there is no need to buy an entrance ticket, which means anyone can go in and out of the reserve without being checked or inspected to see if they have tickets.

“There is no reserve across Vietnam that allows people to get in and out as freely as Son Tra,” said Chinh. “Many people come to set traps but the rangers can’t stop them to check because there is no rule for that, making it very hard to manage.”

“Rangers have been working day and night,” he continued, “but the division has only eight members who are in charge of protecting more than 3,791 hectares of forest land of the reserve.”

A ranger points at a trap in Son Tra Nature Reserve, April 2, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Truong

A ranger points at a trap in Son Tra Nature Reserve, April 2, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Truong

Located 10 kilometers from Da Nang’s city center, Son Tra Peninsula is a mountainous area that extends into the sea, with a total area of approximately 4,400 hectares.

The peninsula, which rises to 700 meters at its peak, acts as a natural shield for the city.

Son Tra Nature Reserve is known for its rich biodiversity, with over 1,000 plant species and 370 animal species recorded in the area. One of the most famous inhabitants of the reserve is the red-shanked douc langur, a critically endangered primate species that is only found in a few areas of central Vietnam.

Every day, the peninsular receives more than 1,000 visitors.

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