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Wildlife centre goes to WAR

Update: July, 30/2012 - 09:30

by Phuoc Buu

 

Moon bears play at the Hon Me Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Kien Giang Province. — VNS Photo Phuoc Buu
KIEN GIANG — Wildlife at Risk (WAR), a local non-governmental organisation, opened a new wildlife rehabilitation centre in Kien Giang Province on Friday.

The Hon Me Wildlife Rescue Centre has already taken in 52 mammals, including bears, yellow-cheeked gibbons, pig-tailed monkeys, lorises and pangolins and 17 reptile individuals of tortoises and pythons. These are listed as endangered species in national and IUCN red books.

The animals were rescued by a joint team of WAR staff and forest rangers in HCM City and the southern province. At the centre, these animals are being trained to regain their natural instincts, treated for health problems and given nutritious food.

Duong Duy Cuong, the centre's manager and chief veterinary officer, said the animals are fed once, twice of three times a day depending on their natural diet.

The bears, for instance, eat three times a day, including one meal of rice and other meals of fruits while others are mainly fed with fruits.

The animals consume an average of 100kg of fruits a day, he said.

The centre is located on 3ha of hillside land in the province's Hon Me commune. It has two houses and a playground for bear rehabilitation, six areas for reptiles and three areas and a playground for gibbons and monkeys, as also a wastewater treatment reservoir.

According to Nguyen Vu Khoi, WAR director, construction of the shelter began in 2008 and trial operations started in early 2011. It was built with a total investment of US$720,000. The funds were taken from WAR's funds, donations by France's Brigit Bardot Foundation and Dragon Capital CEO Dominic Scriven.

"Hon Me is not a natural habitat for some of the species here now, but it plays a significant role in the rescue and conservation of wild animals listed as rare species," Khoi said.

Forest rangers in many provinces around the country are facing difficulties in having facilities to take care of wild animals that they seized from traffickers or cages in households. Many animals died during the process of rescuing or releasing into nature without treatment and rehabilitation.

Local authorities in Hon Dat District, where Hon Me is located, said the centre could be expanded to 20ha so that it could shelter more individuals from endangered species endemic to the locality like some birds, civets and king cobras.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, head of the Forest Rangers Division in Kien Giang, said his agency would work closely with WAR towards making the centre work effectively.

"We are enhancing inspections around the province to rescue animals that can be rehabilitated here before being released back into local national parks," he said.

Khoi said WAR has plans to develop restricted ecotourism in the centre for education purposes as people do not know much about endangered species and wildlife protection laws.

Cuong said the centre already changed the attitude of some groups of locals to wildlife protection.

"We have succeeded in encouraging locals to transfer wild cats, gibbons and silvery lutung to the centre. They told me that they were happy to see the animals well fed and protected," he said.

WAR runs three other centres in HCM City and Dong Nai Province that focus on bear rehabilitation, wildlife rescue and breeding of rare local fish species. — VNS

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