Parks and Wildlife in Vietnam
The country of Vietnam has a rich treasure of forests, mountains and green valleys with equal proportions divided between all the major cities. The National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are untouched by human development and pollution and are the best possible natural habitat for animals and birds alike. With the zeal to protect the wild animals from illegal poaching and preserving the rich bio diversity of the country, the government has assigned special sites to be marked as forested areas for National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. Until the August of 2010, Vietnam has 30 national parks, with the area of 10,350.74km2 (620,10km2 of those are the sea area) which cover about 2.93% of the land area.
THE TOP NATIONAL PARKS IN VIETNAM
BACH MA NATIONAL PARK
Bach Ma National Park is located in central Vietnam (less than an hours drive from Hue city) and around 680 km from the country’s capital Hanoi. The national park covers an area of 22,031 ha and was created in 1991 to protect the center of the last corridor of forest stretching from the South China Sea to the border with Lao PDR.
With steep mountains and dense forests this area is home to a wide variety of animals and plants. At the base of the mountains there is tropical monsoon forest, above 900 m the forest is sub-tropical. There are species from both the northern and southern areas of the country and Bach Ma is recognized as one of the biodiversity centers of Indochina.
The rich flora and fauna also attract many tourists. Bach Ma National Park is home to 233 species of birds and 55 species of mammals, as well as extensive vegetation of more than 500 species. Thus, the park does not only offer beautiful landscapes, but it also allows for scientific research.
The highest point in the park, Bach Ma mountain, is 1450 m above sea level and only 18 km away from the coast. Visitors have been coming to Bach Ma since the 1930s, when the French Colonials built a hill resort here to escape the hot and humid plains during the summer months. The National Park has restored some of the villas built at that time, and is upgrading the services they offer.
PHU QUOC NATIONAL PARK
The park is situated in the North-East of Phu Quoc Island in the southern province of Kien Giang and has boundaries with the coastline. It has become an ideal eco-tourist destination. Phu Quoc National Park has special and unique biodiversity values compared to other national parks across the country.
Located on an island that has a mixture of continental and coastal climate, the park possesses a rich ecosystem of primeval, secondary and indigo forests. Its indigo forests are distributed in the wetlands or the lowlands that is flooded in the rainy season and sloping hills.
The topography of the national park is hilly, although not particularly steep with the highest point is Mount Chua, at 603 m. Being drained by numerous, mainly seasonal, streams, the only sizeable river on the island is the Rach Cua Can River, which drains the southern part of the national park, and flows into the sea on the west coast of the island.
Phu Quoc National Park is the ideal environment for more than 470 species of plants and several types of coral reefs offshore. Phu Quoc Island is lowland evergreen forest and the national park supports 12,794 ha of forest, equivalent to 86% of the total area. To date, 929 plant species have been recorded on Phu Quoc Island. At lower elevations in some areas, the national park supports distinctive formations of Melaleuca – one kind of trees that the leaves are evergreen, alternately arranged, dark green and grey-green in color.
As regards to the fauna system, a list of 43 mammal species belonging to 18 families and 6 orders was compiled in here. Silvered langur, slow loris, pygmy loris, crab-eating macaque, stump-tailed macaque, small-clawed otter and fruit bats are species of the most conservation concern.
Due to the extremely plentiful coral reefs in the south of the island, there are 125 species of fish, 132 species of mollusk and 62 species of sea weed. Interestingly enough, Phu Quoc is also one of the two places in Vietnam where the Dugong, a marine species on the brink of extinction can be found.
Phu Quoc National Park proves it to be a destination for tourists as it offers a wide range of activities such as camping and trekking. It is also ideal for those who want to study the tropical forest.
CAT TIEN NATIONAL PARK
Cat Tien National Park lies 150km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City and 40km south of Buon Ma Thuot and straddles the border of three provinces – Lam Dong, Dong Nai and Binh Phuoc. It is an important national park located. It has an area of about 720 km² and protects one of the largest areas of lowland tropical rainforests left in Vietnam.
Unique terrain, climate and the ability to accommodate five types of forests are factors that have made Cat Tien National Park the home of a diverse range of plants and species. The Park is a range that links two types of terrains: from South Truong Son highland to the South Delta, making it rich in biodiversity resources including forest ecosystems, flora, fauna, which is characteristic of Southeast Delta ecosystems.
Cat Tien National Park belongs to Vietnam’s nature reserve, with the aim of maintaining the biodiversity systems that nature has bestowed upon the country. Cat Tien is one of the most important sites in Vietnam for the conservation of large mammals. Among the large mammal species that have been confirmed to occur at the national park are Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros, Eurasian Wild Pig Sus scrofa, Sambar Cervus unicolor and Gaur Bos gaurus, of which the later three species reportedly occur at high densities relative to other areas in Vietnam. Of the large mammal populations at Cat Tien National Park, the most globally significant one is that of Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros. This is the only known population of the species in mainland South-East Asia and the only known population of the sub-species R. s. annamiticus in the world. However, the population size and range of this species at the national park has declined over the last two decades, and current estimates put the population size at seven or eight individuals and the range at 6,500 ha.
PHONG NHA – KE BANG NATIONAL PARK - WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is in Bo Trach district and Minh Hoa, Quang Binh province. About 50km to the northwest of Dong Hoi city and about 500km to the south of Hanoi capital, the park borders the nature reserve of Hin Namno in Khammouan province of Laos to the west, and it is about 42km away from the South China Sea counting from the border of the two countries.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is situated in a limestone area covering about 200,000 ha of the territory of Vietnam, Laos area where is contiguous to this part is also an area of about 200,000 ha limestone. The core area of national parks is 85,754 ha and 195,499 ha is a wide buffer xone. The park is established to protect one of the world’s largest carxter with about 300 caves and ecosystem conservation of the North Truong Son Central region of Vietnam. Characteristic of this national park is the creation of limestone, 300 caves, underneath ricers and rare flora and fauna in Vietnam Red Book and World Red Book.
The caves here have a total length of more than 80km but the British and Vietnamese cave explorers and adventures have just discovered only 20km, of which 17km in area of Phong Nha and 3 km in area of Ke Bang.
Before the discovery of Son Doong cave in April 2009, Phong Nha hold many records: the longest water cave, largest and highest entrance of cave, the most beautiful and widest sand banks, most beautiful reef, magnificent and virtual stalactites, the large and most beautiful dry cave of the world, longest underground river in Vietnam.
CUC PHUONG NATIONAL PARK
Cuc Phuong National Park is in Ninh Binh Province of Vietnam. Cuc Phuong National Park is Vietnam’s largest national park and one of the most important sites for biodiversity in the country. It is homes to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The park can be visited from Hanoi as a day trip or visitors can stay at the park’s lodging for a longer stay. Visiting the park is a terrific opportunity to get a close look at Vietnam’s nature and fees generated from tourism help protect the parks wildlife and improve the local economy. The best time of the year to visit the park is during the dry season, from November to February.
Located 120 South-West of Hanoi on 22,200 ha of rainforest, Cuc Phuong National Park is the centerpiece of Vietnam’s conservation efforts and one of the most accessible parks in the country. Vietnam’s largest and first national park, Cuc Phuong beauty and a few of its thousands of species of plants and animals can be seen with the help of a local park ranger. If you’re not interested in hiking up and down the karst mountains a good alternative is the easy but rewarding trip to the primate and turtle rehabilitation and breeding centers.
Cuc Phuong is situated in the foothills of the northern Annamite Mountains. The park consists of verdant karst mountains and lush valleys. Elevation varies from 150 meters to 656 meters at the summit of May Bac Mountain, or Silver Cloud Mountain. The limestone formations produced numerous caves, many of which are accessible for exploration. Cuc Phuong is home to a huge diversity of flora and fauna. Inhabitants of the park include 97 species of mammals, most notable are the endangered langurs; 300 species of birds; 36 reptilian species; 17 species of amphibians; 11 species of fish; 2,000 species of vascular plants, and thousands of species of insects, most of who do not bite. A number of species in the park are listed on Vietnam Red Book of endangered species. Primates in the park include macaques, gibbon, Francois’ leaf monkey and slow loris.
CAT BA NATIONAL PARK
60km to the east of Hai Phong city, Cat Ba stretches over territories of six communes including Gia Luan, Phu Long, Hien Hao, Xuan Dam, Tran Chau, Viet Hai and Cat Ba town. Cat Ba National Park was established in 1986, with a total area of 15,200ha, including 9,800ha of land and forest, 5,400ha of marine sea. With a complex of islands and Limestone Mountains with 366 small and large islands of 100-150m average height over sea level, the highest point is Cao Vong peak of 322m, the lowest ones is Trung Trang valley of 9m. Ca Ba National Park is situated in tropical monsoon climate, influenced directly by ocean climate with much rain, humid climate, with two distinct seasons (rainy and dry seasons). In December 2004, United Nation of Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized it as the Biosphere Reserve of Cat Ba archipelago.
Cat Ba National Park has typical complex terrain of Limestone Mountains and archipelago with steep cliffs and dangerous cat-eared rocks, forming a variety of limestone caves like a minimized Ha Long Bay. The magnificent caves enchanted tourists; some caves pass through a mountain heart of several kilometers long. The parts where sea encroaches mainland have natural rocky shores surrounding vast and flat tidal fields with dreamy white sandy beaches scattered. Alternating the strips of dense mangrove forest, flocks of birds and storks fly to gather here.
According to statistics, Cat Ba National Park has 1561 species of higher plant under 842 branches of 186 families with 5 different flora branches, including 58 species listed in Vietnam’s Red Book and 29 species endangered in the world. Flora here consists of 408 species of timber trees, 661 species of medicinal plant, 196 species of edible plant, 203 species of ornamental and shading trees. in terms of animal there are 53 species of mammals of 18 families, 8 sets, and 160 bird species of 46 families, 16 sets; 45 species of reptiles belonging to 15 families, 2 sets and 21 amphibian species belonging to 5 families, 1 set. Marine region of Cat Ba National Park has 900 fish species with 500 species of mollusks, 400 species of armor body.
Once you set foot to visit Cat Ba National Park to immerse in the wildlife and explore the forest and marine ecology tour routes, with enthusiasm and hospitality of local people, you shall certainly be pleased and impressed with a full-of-fun holiday and sightseeing.
TAM DAO NATIONAL PARK
Tam Dao National Park with diversity of soil and climate has created different terrains and variety of ecological sub-regions… Therefore, the forest flora and fauna system here is very rich (about 2000 species of plant, 840 species of animal), many rare and endemic species.
Tam Dao National Park proves its full potential value along with increase in investment of State, authorities and communities in the region should see the benefits and responsibilities in maintaining this valuable property.
Tam Dao National Park is located entirely in Tam Dao mountain range, a large mountain range of over 80km long, 10-15km wide running towards the Northwest – Southeast, in territory of three provinces Vinh Phuc, Thai Nguyen and Tuyen Quang. Tam Dao mountain range has more than 20 peaks of over 1000m high above sea level in which the highest ones is Tam Dao Nord of 1592m. The terrain here is characterized by sharp peak, sloping steep, deep and thick separation. Mount Tam Dao has long been covered by a thick layer of vegetation diversifying in species and biotic communities and ecosystems. The main factors contributing to this diversity include soil, climate…
Tam Dao National Park is located in humid and tropical climate region. High and long running mountain range creating two distinct eastern and western slopes together with different annual rainfall have contributed to different micro-climate. This is also an important factor in creation of two tropical belts.
The differences in soil and climate among regions along with the impact of mankind have created different micro-climates in this area. This is the favorable condition to create a Tam Dao National Park covering by dense vegetation diversifying in species and biotic communities and ecosystems.
Despite being a fledgling national park (established in 1996), Tam Dao National Park has become a significant biodiversity research site of Vietnam. It is also an interesting destination for those who want to discover the nature.
BA VI NATIONAL PARK
Located 60km from Hanoi to the west, Ba Vi National Park is one of the spectacular conservation, sightseeing and recreational area of Tan Linh commune, Ba Vi district, Ha Tay province. The scenery here is glamorous, and nature mingles with human. Total area of Ba Vi National Park is of 11,372ha of which the primary forest spanning over 2752ha, at altitudes from 100 – 1.296m of majestic Ba Vi Mount, with typical tropical and subtropical flora in Vietnam with green trees and fresh air during four seasons.
High mountain terrain and large forest covering bring to Ba Vi region the cool climate, especially in summer (from April to October of the calendar). In winter, covering cloud creates a deeply impressive landscape. Ba Vi is a complex of six mountain peaks with the highest peak is King peak of 1,296m, Tan Vien peak of 1,227m, Ngoc Hoa peak of 1,131m.
Ba Vi National Park is not only known as the lung of Hanoi capital but also the home to hundreds of wildlife species, many of which are rare and precious species listed in Vietnam Red Book. According to statistics of scientists, presently Ba Vi National Park has 812 species of vascular plants of 427 genera and 136 families. It is also home to 15 species of rare and precious plants such as blue cypress, bamboo, and three-shot fern, silver leaf Bassia, wooden fern… Ba Vi National Park also has 45 species of mammals, 115 species of birds, 27 species of amphibians, 61 reptiles, 86 species of insects, of which 23 precious and rare species are listed in the Red Book such as coolies, horse bears, yellow pangolins, white pheasants, monkeys, leopards, bears, flying squirrels.
Ba Vi National Park has become one of four ecological tourist areas of famous high mountains (Da Lat, Sa Pa, Ba Vi and Tam Dao). Moreover, Ba Vi Mountain is a place of spiritual tourism of Vietnamese. Every year, Ba Vi National Park welcomes tens of thousand visitors to visit and study. Visiting here, tourists shall enjoy the cool fresh air; taste of the mountain, trees; singing birds and murmuring streams at sidewalks.
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