Wednesday, August 15 2018

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Quảng Bình retired border soldier saves langurs

Update: July, 15/2018 - 21:49
Nguyễn Thanh Tú (left) has spent eight years protecting Hatinh langurs.— Photo danviet.vn
Viet Nam News

QUẢNG BÌNH — Nguyễn Thanh Tú, 56, a retired border soldier, has spent eight years searching for and protecting Hatinh langurs living in mountainous areas in Đồng Hoá Commune in the coastal central province of Quảng Bình.

Tú said he officially retired in 2012 after nearly three decades of working hard as a border soldier.

One day, when Tú recalled that during his childhood he and his friends took cows to the foot of a local mountain and often saw langurs in tree branches, he got the idea of going to the mountain to search for the langurs.

He searched for them alone month after month but he failed. He thought it was a desperate situation and he nearly gave up.

Not longer after, when he lay down at a rock in the mountain, he suddenly saw about 10 langurs playing with each other among the tree branches, Dân Việt online newspaper reported.

The retired border solider immediately realised that were actually Hatinh langurs (Trachypithecus hatinhensis) – named as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list.

Before retiring, Tú attended training courses for border soldiers to identify endangered and endemic species, he said.

Voluntary protection

The story actually began when Tú decided to voluntarily protect the langurs from being hunted by poachers.

During days of watching and protecting the langurs, Tú found Nguyễn Văn Hồng, a resident of Đồng Hoá Commune and a skilled hunter, who could kill the langurs at any time.

Tú tried to meet Hồng.

He explained to Hồng that the langur was an endangered species, named to both international and Vietnamese red lists. The langur is protected by law so that hunting them is illegal.

At first, Hồng rejected those words. Hồng argued that he earns his living by hunting.

But Tú still clung to a fragile hope and tried to persuade Hồng to stop hunting.

Then, one day, Hồng went to the mountain to hunt the langurs. Two langurs, one female and one male were trapped. When the female langur died, the male langur hugged the dead animal with his sorrowful eyes.

“The moment still haunts me,” he said.

A Hatinh langur.— Photo Tuan GreenViet
 

The moment and the words of Tú made Hồng change his mind. He quit hunting and participated in protecting the langurs with Tú. Hồng’s family income now mainly depends on farming.

The pair teamed up to not only protect the langurs but also to take care of them. On dry days, Tú and Hồng also took water to the mountain for the langurs.

Hồng said many people told him that he already performed a thankless task because no-one hired or paid them.

But Hồng said, “Tú and I voluntarily really want to do the job.” They wanted to contribute a small thing to endangered-species protection.

Thanks to the protection of Tú and Hồng, the number of langurs in the commune is now much higher than in 2012.

Tú said that since the number of langurs was increasing, many langur protectionists in the world came and see him in his house. They came to see and record images of the langurs for documentaries.

However, Tú still has great concern for the safety of the langurs.

According to Tú, people are still allowed to freely visit the area where the langurs live. It poses risks to the langurs.

“Recently, I found a person taking his gun with the aim to hunt langurs,” he said.

The people only stopped when Tú informed local police.

Therefore, Tú said he really hoped the local administration quickly rezoned the area where the langurs were living in order to set up a small conservation area for the species in the coming time.

In March 2016, Tú was awarded the certificate of merit from the Government for his untired contributions to langur protection in the province.

In May 2018, the provincial Forest Management Department gave a certificate of merit to Hồng for his protection of the langurs. —VNS

 

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