Thursday, October 19 2017

VietNamNews

Sanctuary for fish in the Mekong Delta

Update: August, 13/2017 - 09:00
A Mekong giant catfish was found in the Láng Sen Reserve in 2011. Photo courtesy of the Láng Sen Wetland Reserve
Viet Nam News

The Láng Sen Wetland Reserve is very different to the rest of the Mekong Delta, especially for fish, which live well there and are not always being caught by people.

Some fish in the Láng Sen Wetland Reserve grow into very long and large creatures.

However, they still battled to survive last year’s drought. 

By Phạm Hữu

Throughout the Mekong Delta, overexploitation has seen the dwindle in its rivers and canals, but there is a welcome exception.

In the Láng Sen Wetland Reserve, the sighting of giant mudfish weighing over 10kg each has become normal, and fish weighing 7-8kg are considered “babies.”

Efficient management of the reserve has fostered an abundance of the precious giant fish, making it an exciting place to visit.

On a sweltering day earlier this month, we visited the Láng Sen Wetland Reserve and were welcomed by the cool freshness of the canals and the shade of the luxuriant cajuput forest.

Most of the fish found in Láng Sen were native to the place, and have been there for a long time, said Nguyễn Linh Em, a reserve staff showing us around.

He said that since its establishment in 2004, the reserve’s management board had built a dyke to prevent external factors from affecting its ecosystem. The fish species in the core area of the reserve have therefore enjoyed favourable conditions to thrive and multiply themselves.

A survey found that a Mekong giant snakehead fish in the reserve can grow up to 1.5m long and weigh up to 43kg, while a dotted snakehead fish can weigh 13kg and be 1m long.

The big rescue

Last year, wetlands in the Mekong Delta, including the Láng Sen Reserve, suffered from a severe drought.

Nearly 2,000 hectare of cajuput forest died and even the core area in the reserve dried up. The land was chapped by drought and 50 hectare of lotus plants were totally lost. Large quantities of fish lay dying on bare land.

The fish that survived concentrated in stagnant puddles. The entire workforce of the reserve was mobilised to transport the surviving animals and plants from dry waterways to safe zones.

“The water had dried up, the grass was burnt and the fish rotted, and it was stinking everywhere,” Em recalled.

“We used jute bags to carry hundreds of fish that were still alive to water-filled canals. Many blotched snakehead as big as an adult calf that were about to die were saved in the nick of time,” he said.

Trương Thanh Sơn, director of the Láng Sen Wetland Reserve,  said that to preserve all the species, water sources within the reserve were being rejuvenated to expand their habitant and create more breeding zones for the fish.  

Locals used to illegally enter the reserve and use electric shock to catch the fish in large quantities. About 400 rangers have been assigned to take turns to protect the reserve round the clock, particularly its core area. Sentry boxes are manned day and night, keeping poachers at bay.

Besides, local people have also been encouraged to contribute to the preservation of the precious species in the reserve.

“As soon as they catch a giant fish, they just need to inform us at the Láng Sen Wetland Reserve. Someone from the reserve will go there, purchase the fish and return it to its natural habitat,” Sơn said. VNS

Established in 2004, Láng Sen Wetland Reserve in the southern province of Long An still preserves the original ecosystem of the Đồng Tháp Mười (Plain of Reeds )Wetlands in the Mekong Delta, along with the Tràm Chim National Park in Đồng Tháp Province.
 

Spread over 4,800ha of wetland and cajuput forest, the reserve is home to more than 150 kinds of plants, 140 kinds of birds, and over 90 fish species, 25 of which are native to the Mekong Delta. All species are being targeted by stringent preservation efforts.

The reserve was recognised in 2015 as the seventh Ramsar Convention site in Việt Nam - an international agreement on the conservation of wetlands which Việt Nam signed in 1989.

(The Vietnamese version of this story was published in the Thanh Niên newspaper on July 16, 2017)

 

 GLOSSARY

 

Throughout the Mekong Delta, overexploitation has seen the catch dwindle in its rivers and canals, but there is a welcome exception.

Exploitation happens when someone tries to get the most from something. Overexploitation happens when they try to get far too much. In this case, people have been fishing so much in the Mekong Delta that they have damaged the fish life there.

If fishermens’ catches dwindle, they catch fewer and fewer fish.

An exception is an example of something that is different to things around it.

Efficient management of the reserve has fostered an abundance of the precious giant fish, making it an exciting place to visit.

Efficient management is management that is good, organised and quick.

Fostered means developed and encouraged.

If there is an abundance of something there is a lot of it.

On a sweltering day earlier this month, we visited the Láng Sen Wetland Reserve and were welcomed by the cool freshness of the canals and the shade of the luxuriant cajuput forest.

Sweltering means uncomfortably hot.

Most of the fish found in Láng Sen were native to the place, and have been there for a long time, said Nguyễn Linh Em, a reserve staff showing us around.

If fish are native to a place, they are originally from there.

He said that since its establishment in 2004, the reserve’s management board had built a dyke to prevent external factors from affecting its ecosystem.

A dyke is a wall that is built to stop flooding.

An ecosystem is a community of living things. It can be small, like a pot plant, or it can be huge like a whole national park.

The fish species in the core area of the reserve have therefore enjoyed favourable conditions to thrive and multiply themselves.

A core area is a central area where most of the focus is.

To thrive means to do very well.

When fish multiply, they breed by laying eggs from which baby fish hatch.

The land was chapped by drought and 50 hectare of lotus plants were totally lost.

Chapped means dried and cracking.

The fish that survived concentrated in stagnant puddles.

If fish are concentrated in a place, there are many of them in that place because that is where many have gathered.

Stagnant pools are pools where the water is very still.

The entire workforce of the reserve was mobilised to transport the surviving animals and plants from dry waterways to safe zones.

If the work force of the reserve is mobilised it is ready and prepared to swing into action for a big operation.

“We used jute bags to carry hundreds of fish that were still alive to water-filled canals.

Jute is a type of fibre.

Many blotched snakehead as big as an adult calf that were about to die were saved in the nick of time,” he said.

In the nick of time means “just in time”.

Trương Thanh Sơn, director of the Láng Sen Wetland Reserve, said that to preserve all the species, water sources within the reserve were being rejuvenated to expand their habitat and create more breeding zones for the fish.  

Preserve means keep in a good condition.

A species of fish is a type of fish.

To be rejuvenated means to be made to be fit again and have another chance.

An animal’s habitat is a place where it has the correct amount of food and shelter to live successfully.

About 400 rangers have been assigned to take turns to protect the reserve round the clock, particularly its core area.

Round the clock means full time, in other words “twenty-four seven”.

Sentry boxes are manned day and night, keeping poachers at bay.

Poachers are people who hunt illegally. In this case, hunting includes fishing,

To keep poachers at bay means to stop them from poaching in the immediate future.

“Someone from the reserve will go there, purchase the fish and return it to its natural habitat,”

Purchase means buy.

 

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. Giant mudfish that weigh 7 to 8 kilograms are considered to be “babies”.
  2. The Láng Sen Wetland Reserve was established 13 years ago.
  3. The giant snakehead fish is smaller and shorter than the dotted snakehead fish.
  4. There was a terrible drought in the Mekong Delta in 2016.
  5. Cajuput forests always survive droughts well.

 

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. True; 2. True; 3. False; 4. True; 5. False.

 

 

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