The Wildlife Of Vietnam
Vietnam, located in Southeast Asia, is rich in biodiversity, including endemic plant and animal species. Its coastal waters contain around 2,000 marine fish species and its freshwater rivers are home to approximately 700 freshwater fish species. On land and in the air, Vietnam is home to 889 bird species, 310 mammal species, 296 reptile species, and 162 amphibian species. Providing shelter, food, and clean air are an estimated 11,400 vascular plant species. This country has such remote habitats that some of these plant and animal species were only discovered as recently as the 1990s.
The Threats To Vietnam's Wildlife
Unfortunately, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has determined that approximately 10% of the biodiversity in this country is at risk of extinction. This number gives Vietnam a ranking of 16 out of 152 in terms of countries with the largest percentage of wildlife at danger. One of the biggest threats facing the wildlife here is habitat degradation. The biggest factors contributing to habitat loss in this country have been the Vietnam War and widespread deforestation. In addition, Vietnam has a significant problem with illegal poaching and illegal trade of wildlife with a demand both on a national and international level. These traded wildlife species are used for several purposes, including as medicine, pets, and food. Many of these illegally traded plants and animals are also considered endangered.
The Need To Protect: Establishment Of National Parks In Vietnam
In response to the pressing threat faced by Vietnam’s wildlife, the government has moved toward increasing the number of protected land throughout the country. This first began in 1986, when the Cat Ba National Park was established, protecting an area of 102 square miles in the Red River Delta. Since then, the government of Vietnam has established a total of 30 national parks. The most recent of these were founded in 2006: the Phuoc Binh and the U Minh Ha. The national parks protect several ecosystems, including: land, river basins, and coastal and marine areas. These parks can be found in the following regions: Mekong Delta (5 national parks), Red River Delta (4 national parks), Central Highlands (5 national parks), North Central Coastal area (5 national parks), South Central Coastal area (2 national parks), northeastern region (4 national parks), northwestern region (1national park), and southeastern region (4 national parks).
The Current Role Played By Vietnam's National Parks
The national parks of Vietnam play an important role in the country’s wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism industry. These protected areas allow the government to focus its financial and law enforcement resources in specific areas to ensure effective protection efforts concerning natural resources. The government of Vietnam has increased its fight against the illegal logging industry, hunting and poaching, and harvesting endangered plants for medicinal purposes.
Additionally, the government has increased reintroduction programs for endangered species by releasing and replanting certain species. Because many of these parks contain Ramsar designated wetlands and BirdLife International bird areas, the majority of these reintroduction efforts have been successful. Due to these reintroduction efforts, wildlife populations have been strengthened in many forest habitats, mangrove forest areas have increased in size, bird sightings occur more frequently, fish and marine life numbers have increased, and the Siamese crocodile population has returned to previous numbers.