Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project’s contributions to the biodiversity conservation in Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba island, covering an area of 140km2, is the biggest among 367 islands of Cat Ba Archipelago in Cat Hai district, Hai Phong city. It is 30km from the city center and nearly 25km from Ha Long city, Quang Ninh. On December 19th 2004, Cat Ba Archipelago was listed among the World’s Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO.
Cat Ba National Park is a special-use forest in Vietnam with a variety of major natural habitats, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, and rocky highlands. Many uncommon species such as the Cat Ba langur, chamois, otters, leopards, wild cats, civets, and black squirrels can be found in one of the country's most biodiverse places. The Cat Ba langur, in particular, is on the list of the world's most endangered animals and is listed in the World Red Book. They are regarded as the icons of Cat Ba National Park and the Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve in general.
(Langur in Cat Ba National Park represents 12% of the world's langur population)
The establishment of Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project
Although it is extremely rare, the Cat Ba langur faces numerous threats because the langur herd's conservation and development confront difficulties due to the challenging terrain, as well as a lack of preservation awareness among locals and tourists. Illegal poaching, deforestation for agriculture, exploitation of forest resources, and tourism all have an impact on their living environment. As a result, this species is of special interests, especially to scientists and NGO around the world.
The Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project (Project) was directly funded by The Muenster Zoo and the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP) of the Federal Republic of Germany to be implemented in Cat Ba National Park through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam from 2000 to 2018. In the period of 2019 to 2023, Zoo Leipzig GmbH, a German NGO granted a Registration Certificate by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, operating in Ninh Binh and Hai Phong, operates in the field of: wildlife conservation, continued to finance over six hundred and ten thousand USD and was approved by the City People's Committee to deploy in Cat Ba National Park in the Decision No.712/QD-UBND on April 3rd 2019.
Some activities of the Project
The goals and major activities of the Project
- Conserve & prevent the extinction of Cat Ba langurs and preserve the biodiversity on Cat Ba Archipelago;
- Closely monitor groups of Cat Ba langurs and the impacts on them to ensure growth and avoid the risk of extinction of the species; protect the living environment of langurs population on Cat Ba island, performing tasks to support the forest rangers of Cat Ba National Park in patrolling, controlling, protecting, and preserving the Cat Ba langur species as well as conserve the biodiversity in the National Park;
- Establish, coordinate and provide financial support to local community groups to carry out activities aimed at protecting Cat Ba Langur species, forests, and biodiversity.
- Raise awareness of the biodiversity values of Cat Ba National Park and Cat Ba Islands among local communities, students, and groups visiting the Park and Cat Ba Island; contribute to raising international awareness and promoting the image of Cat Ba National Park & local and Vietnamese biodiversity values to the world.
- Implement reforestation projects, contributing to preserving and conserving biodiversity values for Cat Ba National Park and the locality; Forming and participating in a technical working group on Cat Ba Langur and another group on Vietnamese primates;
The Project’s achievements
By November 2020, the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project coordinated by Cat Ba National Park had been operated for 20 years. During that time of conserving and developing groups of langurs, a series of appropriate measures and practices have been put in place to conserve and gradually increase the number of langurs in Cat Ba. The Project achieved such goals as preserving and enhancing the effectiveness of Cat Ba Langur conservation, boosting awareness and capacity for forest and wildlife conservation and protection:
(A semi-mature Cat Ba Langur)
- Active protection measures have considerably decreased threats to Cat Ba langurs and their environment, and most of the natural habitats of Cat Ba langurs have been under strict preservation as part of Cat Ba National Park's revised planned.
- Expanding special conservation areas inhabited by Cat Ba Langur species to control hunting of Cat Ba Langur from the project's inception in 2000 to the present time, and gradually increasing the number of individuals in the Cat Ba Langur population from approximately 40 in 2000 to 71 at the present time, effectively protecting the entire Cat Ba Langur living area.
- Reduce detrimental habitat impacts to ensure the best possible habitat for the species today and in the future. Convert those who previously had a negative impact on the forest into ardent forest protectors by changing their perceptions. Dozens of these individuals have been involved in the conservation and protection of the Cat Ba Langur and other species of flora and animals on Cat Ba Island since its inception.
- Helping a large number of local people participate in forest protection and conservation activities, contributing to preserving the local biodiversity values. The participation of local people in Forest Protection groups, langur guard groups or other friends is extremely important in ensuring the safety of the life of the Cat Ba Langur.
- These community-based conservation groups also play an important role in changing the perception of communities on Cat Ba Island about the value of biodiversity and the importance of preserving those values. Currently, there are three forest protection groups in three communes with 18 members performing forest protection and patrolling activities on a regular basis and 6 other members who are langur Protectors living in areas adjacent to high density regions of Cat Ba langurs;
- Providing Cat Ba National Park rangers with a substantial amount of financial resources, knowledge, information, and technical support in order for them to carry out operations to safeguard and conserve the park's biodiversity values.
- Support Cat Ba National Park rangers in implementing better patrol routes, increasing monitoring and protection of the Cat Ba Langur, and assisting with the proposal and construction of a portion of ranger stations in key locations for the park's preservation and conservation; conduct training classes on skills and supplementary knowledge for forest rangers' law enforcement work, support equipment for patrol work, and forest rangers' lives.
- Helping a large number of local people understand the unique value of Cat Ba Langur and the local biodiversity values through presentations and discussions.
- From 2010 – 2011 up to present, the Project has continuously implemented environmental education programs for all grades 6 and 7 at seven secondary schools on Cat Ba Island, including classroom lectures and visits, enjoyable activities, and practice in Cat Ba National Park and outdoors. Every year, over 500 students take part in the program.
- Help in promoting the image of Cat Ba Langur and the biodiversity values of Cat Ba Islands to the international community; making an important contribution to the development of the Vietnam Primate Emergency Action Program to 2025 with a vision to 2030.
Through those achievements by the Cat Ba Langur Protection Project, it is known that the conservation work on the island not only safeguards the Cat Ba langur species but also safeguards the complete habitat of this primate and other species. People must also understand that the national park on Cat Ba Island is a high-biodiversity, internationally significant place that has been recognized as a world biosphere reserve. Therefore, it is also vital to pay due attention to nature protection besides development and tourism deployment.
People's perceptions of langurs and langur conservation have gradually been improved as a result of community-based activities. From being a victim of indiscriminate killing to now, the Cat Ba langur has been safeguarded, propagated, and has become a symbol of Cat Ba archipelago Biosphere Reserve./.
Nguyễn Linh Phương