Vietnam is an East Asian country located on the Indochina Peninsula. The country is heavily forested and mountainous. The country is known for having a high level of biodiversity. However, many of Vietnam's wild areas have become denuded habitats. Over 300 species of animals have disappeared from the country and more than 100 living there today are threatened. Below is a list of some of the most threatened wild animals of Vietnam.
The Crocodylus siamensis or the Siamese crocodile is one of Vietnam’s most threatened animals. It is critically endangered. Historically, the Siamese crocodile lived throughout Southeast Asia. Today, it is nearly extinct in the wild in most parts of its range. It almost entirely vanished from Vietnam before it was reintroduced at the Cat Tien National Park. There are about 200 members of this species in this national park. The Siamese crocodile lives in a wide variety of freshwater habitats like rivers, lakes, marshes, and swamplands. Habitat occupation and human disturbance are the biggest threats to the species.
The Trachypithecus delacouri or the Delacour's Langur is another critically endangered species found in Vietnam. In fact, this species occurs only in Vietnam. It is one of the most threatened primates of the world. It is distributed across an area of 6,000 square km in northern Vietnam. The Delacour's Langur’s largest population is found in the Van Long Nature Reserve. Here, these animals live in open forest up to 1,076 feet. Hunting of the species for traditional medicine and loss of natural habitat are the biggest threats to this species. Only about 250 Delacour's Langurs are believed to survive in the wild as of 2010.
Black Crested Gibbon
The Nomascus concolor or the black crested gibbon is also one of Vietnam’s most threatened species. Like the other species mentioned above, this animal is also critically endangered. Four geographically separated subspecies of this gibbon survive in a fragmented range including parts of northern Vietnam, China, and Laos. They live on trees in small groups generally at high altitudes ranging from 2100 to 2400 m above sea level. Only about 1300 to 2000 wild members of this species is estimated to survive today.
Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle
The Geoemyda spengleri is a turtle species found only in Southeast Asia. It is also called the Vietnamese leaf turtle as Vietnam is one of the countries where it occurs. It is also found in Laos and China. Poaching and capture for the illegal pet trade are the biggest threats to this species.
Tonkin Snub-Nosed Monkey
The Rhinopithecus avunculus is a monkey that is famous worldwide for its unique appearance. However, its fame has been unable to ensure its survival as it is now a critically endangered species. It is found in fragmented habitats at altitudes ranging from 700 to 3,900 feet in Vietnam where it is an endemic species. Habitat loss and hunting for food and sale in the wildlife black market are the primary threats to the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey.
A subspecies of tiger, the Panthera tigris tigris or the Indochinese tiger survive as small populations in parts of Southeast Asia including Vietnam. It is one of the most threatened tiger species and the IUCN has listed this tiger as Endangered. Only about 20 members of this tiger subspecies live in Vietnam. It is believed that this population is too small to sustain itself for long. The Indochinese tiger prefers mostly forested habitats but also adapts itself to living in grasslands, hills, and mountains. For years, this tiger has been hunted for traditional medicines used in Vietnam and China. Today, their habitats are also in great danger with much of it being lost to human settlements and agriculture.
Two subspecies of the critically endangered Trachypithecus poliocephalus survive today. The subspecies in Vietnam is called the golden-headed or Cat Ba Langur. It is endemic to the Cát Bà Island island in the country. Less than 70 individuals of the subspecies are known to exist in the present day. In 1986, the Cat Ba National Park was established to protect the langur from threats like poaching and habitat destruction. The animal was poached to supply its body parts to produce traditional medicines.
Other Highly Threatened Species of Vietnam
Many other species found in Vietnam are also highly threatened like the critically endangered grey-shanked douc langur, several threatened turtle species, the crested argus, an endangered bird, and more.
Conservation of Vietnamese Wildlife
Decades of neglect have claimed the lives of thousands of wild animals in Vietnam. The ignorance of the people has also encouraged a flourishing illegal wildlife trade industry. The sacrifice of animals for traditional medicine preparations have pushed many species to the brink of extinction. Conservation of Vietnam's wildlife is thus a top priority of the country's government today. International wildlife protection societies have also collaborated with the Vietnamese government in this regard.