Saving the last rhinos in Vietnam
In order to protect wildlife within Cat Tien National Park, WWF Vietnam has undertaken a pilot project to help the people living in the core zone of the national park to move to improved settlements. The project was done by WWF Vietnam in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and support from the Dutch government.
The Javan rhino or the lesser one-horned rhino is probably the rarest large mammal species in the world. Today, just over 60 are estimated to still be in existence globally, no more than eight in Cat Tien National Park, the remaining amount in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java.
Starting in 2003, the project has succeeded in emigrating 79 households from the core zone and securing two new settlements for 29 ethnic minority households at Village 6, Tien Hoang Commune (12 households) and Van Minh Village, Gia Vien Commune (17 households), Cat Tien District, Lam Dong Province.
Speaking at the project closing ceremony on 16 October 2007, Tran Minh Hien, WWF Vietnam’s director, acknowledged the strong commitment of MARD as well as the active support from Dong Nai and Lam Dong Provinces.
“Participation of the community in every process of the whole project is a key to our success. In addition, our project could not run so smoothly without the cooperation and efforts of the managing board of the Cat Tien National Park, especially Mr. Vu Ngoc Lan, vice-director of the park,” she said.
“This pilot sub-project is not only a critical step in saving (the Javan Rhino) but also provides people with new opportunities. The new settlements provide people access to just next door, and the commune health service is not far from here,” reported with a smile 39-year-old K’rai, owner of a new spacious and comfortable home.
As part of the project “Adequate Emigration for the People in Cat Tien National Park,” the sub-project will serve as a lesson from which the national park, as well as the authorities of the three provinces of Lam Dong, Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai, can gather understanding through experience.
La Van Ly, director of the Department of Agricultural Cooperative, MARD stressed, “Initial results from the pilot sub-project are remarkable but we should think of sustainability after the project’s end. Giving farming land to the people is only a temporary solution due to reduction of this resource. It is vital to orient the children and youth to school, or training school, so that they can secure a job after graduation. Evidently, this makes their lives much brighter than their parents’.”