Last update 11/18/2011 10:00:33 AM (GMT+7)

Debate about rhinos in Vietnam continues

VietNamNet Bridge – While foreign and Vietnamese organizations still argue about whether one-horn rhino is extinct in Vietnam, scientists have called on to conduct further investigation to find out the truth.

Vietnam hopes one-horn rhinos still exist

On October 25, the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the International Rhino Foundation IRF released a statement, affirming that one-horn rhino is extinct in Vietnam. However, just several days after the statement was made, Vietnamese scientists said they believe other rhino individuals are still existing, emphasizing that the WWF’s report was made just based on the result of a survey and that it is necessary to conduct other investigations to find out if any other rhinos exist.

Saigon Tiep Thi’s reporters met the representatives of some organizations to clarify the issue.

WWF: Java rhinos are extinct in Vietnam

An officer of WWF Vietnam said that before making the conclusion that Java rhino is extinct in Vietnam, WWF once conducted a survey in 2009-2010 on the area where there are signs of rhinos existing. It then took WWF a long more time to consult with international and domestic experts before coming to such a conclusion. All that steps last nearly one year. All the conclusions shown in the report were made only after thorough consideration and consultation with many experts.

Especially, WWF also met the representatives of state agencies to discuss and reached a consensus about the issue before a meeting was held to make public the information.

The 2011 report by WWF about the extinction of Java rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) shows that the surveyed area was Cat Loc, a part of the Cat Tien National Park in Lam Dong province, which is considered the last mainland in Asia where people can find the signs of the existing of Java rhinos.

The survey was conducted in the dry season, implemented in three phases, commencing on October 27, 2009, and finishing on April 8, 2010. The surveyed team also expanded the searching area in order not to miss out any signs of rhinos. However, they could not find any other signs of Java rhinos.

Dr Dang Huy Huynh, Deputy Chair of the Vietnam Association for Conversation of Nature and the Environment: It’s necessary to take further investigation

Though WWF has concluded that rhino is extinct in Vietnam, we still can take further investigation. As far as I know, the information we have is that two rhinos died, one of them died more than 10 years ago and we got its skeleton, and the other died in 2010. Where are other rhino individuals, then?

Why do you think that rhinos still exist in Vietnam?

We cannot make a conclusion until we make a thorough investigation to find out the truth. I think that the investigation needs to be carried out in a larger area. I know WWF took investigation on an area of 10,000 hectares. But the park covers an area of 27,000 hectares.

Also, when the habitat changes, animals tend to leave for other places and they will return when everything gets okay for them.

Experts once said that there were 3-5 rhinos. International and Vietnamese scientists found small size footprints as well, which could be the footprints of small rhinos. Therefore, I think that if only two rhinos are dead, others still exist. If the other rhinos have also been shot dead, their death will be known by local residents who regularly go to the forest. It was local residents, who discovered the death of the rhino recently. In 2003-3004, scientists still affirmed that there were 3-5 rhinos.

Vietnam’s forests are dense and it is very difficult to find the way in the forest. I think rhinos may hide themselves in some places.

Has the State had any program on researching and conserving rhinos?

Not yet, and this is the reason why I have proposed to set up a program on preserving rhinos. WWF has announced the extinction of rhinos, while the state management agencies still keep quiet. Meanwhile, they should have expressed their ideas in such a case.

Source: SGTT