Page 1

The Babbler Number 41 - May 2012

Beauty at the Lao Elephant Festival 2012 Photo: Jonathan C. Eames

Number 41 - May 2012


Working together for birds and people

BirdLife International in Indochina is a subregional programme of the BirdLife Secretariat operating in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. It currently has two offices in the region:

• Comment • Features

Vietnam craves rhino horn; costs more than cocaine

• Regional News

Rhino wars - South Africa to make rhino horn trade legal? Cambodia: ‘Vulture restaurants’ bring hope for survival of species Iridescent Short-Legged Lizard Discovered In Northeast Cambodia Thailand Defies Neighbors on Contentious Xayaburi Dam Grey-crowned Crocias crops-up in Kon Tum province, Vietnam Vietnam: Tram Chim National Park becomes Ramsar site Vietnam bear sanctuary struggles to fight off developers

• Rarest of the rare

Scaly-sided Mergansers on the Red River in Hanoi

• Project Updates

CEPF- Regional Implementation Team updates White-shouldered Ibis workshops paves the way for continued action and research

• Reviews

“Dirty Money” in Illegal Logging Can be Tracked and Confiscated—World Bank Reports Biomonitoring Methods for the Lower Mekong Basin Rhino Wars

Vietnam Programme Office Room 211-212, D1 building, Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound; 298 Kim Ma street, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi, Vietnam P.O. Box 89 6 Dinh Le, Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: +84-4-3 514 8904 Cambodia Programme Office #9, Street 29 Tonle Basac, Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh, Cambodia P.O.Box: 2686 Tel/Fax: +855 23 993 631

• From the archives


The Babbler 41 - May 2012



n this issue we again tackle the international trade in rhino horn and Vietnams’ increasing role in it. It is widely accepted that Vietnam, not China is the main consuming country. As far as I am aware there is still no signed agreement between South Africa and Vietnam to tackle this issue. Rhino horn is on open sale across Vietnam but still the trade continues and we see no visible action from the Vietnamese authorities. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Laos Elephant Festival this year and thoroughly enjoyed it. It struck me though that as both a fund raising and awareness raising exercise for elephant conservation, the event has huge and as yet, untapped potential. Estimates vary as to the numbers of people attending but assuming 100,000 people did over the three days, even if each had contributed US $1 a useful US $100k could have been raised for elephant conservation in Laos without much effort. The Elephant Festival is clearly a unique event, not only in Laos but also across the region. Copying the British Birdwatching Fair, which draws crowds of only 20,000 but raises US $ 500k for a BirdLife project every year, has taken off within and outside Europe; there are annual events now held in the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand. These events will always be small and are limited in their potential because Birdwatching is such a specialist interest in the region. However, the Elephant Festival has the opportunity to expand and become a mega event benefiting tourism and Elephant conservation.

The Babbler is the quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina. This quarter The Babbler was compiled by Tran Thi Thanh Huong Huong@ and edited by Jonathan C. Eames, The views expressed are those of contributors and are not necessarily those of BirdLife International.

Finally, Tram Chim National Park as been designated under the Ramsar Convention. Congratulations to all involved. But why did it take so long to complete this process, especially given that the site is already a national park? And what conservation purpose is served by designating sites that are already protected areas. Vietnam also seriously lags behind its ASEAN neighbors in designating Ramsar sites. Although it signed the convention in 1989 it has so far designated only 4 Ramsar sites. In its 2005 publication Important Bird Areas and potential Ramsar Sites in Asia, BirdLife estimated at least 26 further Ramsar candidate sites should also be designated. Ramsar has not helped wetland conservation in Vietnam and nominating sites already afford national protection fails to use the convention for the purpose it was designed

Jonathan C. Eames OBE Programme Manager BirdLife International in Indochina


The Babbler 41 - May 2012


Vietnam craves rhino horn; costs more than cocaine


pril 4, 2012, Hanoi, Vietnam (AP) - Nguyen Huong Giang loves to party but loathes hangovers, so she ends her whiskey benders by tossing back shots of rhino horn ground with water on a special ceramic plate. Her father gave her the 4-inch (10-centimeter) brown horn as a gift, claiming it cures everything from headaches to cancer. Vietnam has become so obsessed with the fingernail-like substance it now sells for more than cocaine.

In this photo taken on 13 March 2012, an white rhinoceros is seen at a private zoo of Bao Son Paradise Park in Hanoi, Vietnam, which has 24-hour security to protect against potential poachers. Wildlife conservationists warn that Vietnam’s surging demand for rhino horn, which is believed to treat everything from hangovers to cancer, is threatening to wipe out the world’s remaining rhino populations. Illegal killings in Africa hit a record high in 2011 and are expected to worsen this year. (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)

Although data on the global rhino horn trade is scarce, poaching in Africa has soared in the past two years, with American officials saying China and Vietnam are driving the trade that has no “significant” end market in the United States. Wildlife advocates say that over the last decade, rhino horn has become a must-have luxury item for some Vietnamese nouveau riche, alongside Gucci bags and expensive Maybach cars.

“I don’t know how much it costs,” said Giang, 24, Between 2006 and 2008, three diplomats at the after showing off the horn in her high-rise apartment Vietnamese Embassy in Pretoria were linked to overlooking the capital, Hanoi. “I only know it’s expensive.” embarrassing rhino trafficking scandals - including one caught on tape. In February, U.S. agents busted an Experts say Vietnam’s surging demand is threatening to alleged interstate rhino horn trafficking syndicate with wipe out the world’s remaining rhinoceros populations, Vietnamese-American ringleaders. which recovered from the brink of extinction after the 1970s thanks to conservation campaigns. Illegal killings A court affidavit obtained by The Associated Press alleges in Africa hit the highest recorded level in 2011 and are one of those arrested in the U.S. case, Felix Kha, traveled expected to worsen this year. to China 12 times between 2004 and 2011 and went to Vietnam five times last year. This week South Africa called for renewed cooperation with Vietnam after a “shocking number” of rhinos have “There are still horns going into China but Vietnam is already been reported dead this year. driving the increase in poaching for horns,” said Chris R. Shepherd, deputy regional director for Southeast Asia China has long valued rhino horn for its purported at the wildlife advocacy group TRAFFIC. “Vietnamese - though unproven - medicinal properties, but U.S. authorities really need to step up their efforts to find out officials and international wildlife experts now say who is behind horn trafficking ... and put them out of Vietnam’s recent intense craving, blamed partly on a business.” widespread rumor that rhino horn cures cancer, is putting unprecedented pressure on the world’s estimated 28,000 The rhino horn craze offers bigger payoffs than other remaining animals, mainly in South Africa. exotic wildlife products such as bear bile or tiger bone paste. American officials say the crushed powder fetches “It’s a very dire situation,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service up to $55,000 per kilogram in Asia ($25,000 per pound) - a Director Dan Ashe said by telephone. “We have very little price that can top the U.S. street value of cocaine, making cushion for these populations in the wild.” the hoof-like substance literally as valuable as gold. 4

The Babbler 41 - May 2012


Vietnam craves rhino horn....(continued) The drive is so great, thieves are now pinching rhino horns from European museums and taxidermy shops, sometimes smashing them off with sledgehammers before fleeing. According to Europol, the European law enforcement agency, 72 rhino horns were stolen from 15 European countries in 2011, the first year such data was recorded. Poachers in South Africa are also using chain saws to rip rhinos’ horns off, mutilating the hulky animals while they’re still alive and leaving oozing bloody cavities in the heads of those lucky enough to survive.

Vietnam as trophies bagged from South African game farms each year, but international wildlife experts have estimated the actual number of trophy horns taken by Vietnamese nationals from South Africa each year may exceed 100. Earlier this week, the South African government said it was working with the Vietnamese to stop the potential abuse of hunting permits. Hanoi has also been asked to conduct inspections to make sure rhino trophies imported from South Africa still remain in the hunters’ possession.

It’s impossible to track how other rhino horns are entering Vietnam, wildlife advocates say, but they point to local Sometimes, they simply shoot the beasts dead, even though media reports suggesting Vietnamese diplomats are implicated in the international trade that’s been largely the horns can grow back within two years without harming banned since 1976. the animal if carefully cut. Officials and nonprofits in South Africa are preemptively cutting some rhinos’ horns in an attempt to save them, but some poachers are killing anyway In 2006, a diplomat at Vietnam’s South African Embassy was arrested for trafficking rhino horn, while another was filmed just for the nubs. two years later trading the substance outside the mission’s gates. A third diplomat was also questioned that same year Vietnam wiped out its own last known Javan rhinoceros in after 18 kilograms (40 pounds) of rhino horn was found in 2010, despite the country’s earlier efforts to protect it. The last of the population was found dead in a national park, his car outside a casino. shot through the leg with its horn hacked off. In a statement, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said those incidents reflected badly upon Vietnam’s Tran Dang Trung, who manages a zoo outside Hanoi that image, and that the diplomats all faced disciplinary imported four white rhinos from South Africa, said he worries for the animals’ safety even though the zoo has 24- measures. hour security. Meanwhile, illegal rhino killings in South Africa are “If thieves wanted to kill the animals and steal their valuable skyrocketing - from 122 in 2009 to 333 in 2010 and a record parts, they could,” Trung said recently outside the rhinos’ 448 in 2011. The country reported last week that 150 rhinos basketball court-sized outdoor pen. had already been poached this year, nearly 60 percent taken from Kruger National Park. Laws in Vietnam surrounding the business of importing horns are murky and crackdowns are rare despite In Hanoi, Vietnamese buy rhino horn on the streets of the government pledges to root out traffickers. city’s bustling old quarter, where a traditional medicine dealer recently told the AP that the average prescription Officially, no more than 60 horns are legally imported into costs 200,000 dong ($10).

Hanoi doctors report that some of their clients take the powder as a supplement to western medicines, believing it cures fever and other common ailments. Others use it as a last-ditch effort against cancer. Nguyen Huu Truong, a doctor at Hanoi’s Center for Allergy Clinical Immunology, said a handful of patients visit him each year complaining of rashes he links to rhino horn consumption. “Many Vietnamese believe that anything expensive is good, but if you’re going to spend a lot of money on rhino horn, you might as well bite your nails,” he said. Rhino horns are composed of keratin, a protein found in human hair and fingernails. Giang, the young Vietnamese woman who regularly uses rhino horn to prevent hangovers, says she’s unfazed by doctors’ assessments of the substance’s efficacy and doesn’t care to know how her father acquired the horn. Experts say some rhino horns passing through Vietnam are fakes, and the AP couldn’t verify the authenticity of Giang’s horn, which she grinds on a plate with a rough finish made specifically for the task. She ingests the liquefied form when she has allergic reactions or after tippling on too much topshelf liquor. Because Giang only takes rhino horn shots once or twice every three months, she estimates her horn will last another 10 to 15 years. But once her stash is depleted, there may not be any rhinos left on earth to satisfy her craving ---------Source: Mike Ives. Associated Press Associated Press writer Donna Bryson in Johannesburg, South Africa, contributed to this report.


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news



enforcement efforts across government aimed at addressing the scourge of rhino poaching. The government does not condone the current spate of illegal rhino killings but continues to vigorously fight this scourge by implementing the interventions that we highlighted last year. We also continue to look at new initiatives that can assist us in the fight against rhino poaching.

pril 4th, 2012. Today as I stand before you, it is with immense dismay that I announce that the toll of rhinos poached in South Africa for 2012 has reached the alarming figure of 159, in the midst of the increased anti150 new rangers poaching effort. It is at this Park that the first group of 75 of the 150 new rangers are currently undergoing a 6 week intense Kruger rhino slaughter paramilitary training course. The 150 rangers are to be The Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt deployed in the Kruger National Park. They have completed of these losses, with the rhinos poached in the park their competency tests, all security checks as well as medical having reached a staggering total of 95. This is no longer assessments. an environmental management problem ONLY, but it has become a matter in which we have involved all law Last week the Department announced that I held discussions enforcement agencies. Operation Rhino continues and with my counterparts, the Public Works and Defence remains a standing agenda item of the National Joints Ministers, in Kruger and considered the fence in the eastern Committee (Nat Joints Com), which comprises of senior boundary. In the end it was concluded that the fence will be members of SAPS Organised Crime Unit, The Hawks, NPA and too expensive and difficult to maintain. Instead we are now the South African National Defence Force. looking at a buffer zone between Kruger and the private reserves/farms in Mozambique - same as on the northeastern boundary of Kruger where there is a Transfrontier 90 arrests Conservation Area (TFCA) arrangement. The same was The arrests of suspected poachers made in 2012 have discussed with the Mozambique authorities and our reached 90 which is a milestone. The continued arrests of respective teams are busy with planning already. rhino poaching suspects is reflective of the coordinated

Key points of the ministers speach • • • • •

Legalise trade in rhino horn Rhino horn stockpile Vietnam hunters investigated New rangers for the Kruger Rhino horn DNA

Request to Vietnam to check on trophies We have recently approached the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and asked if they could conduct inspections and verify that the white rhinoceros trophies exported from South Africa to Vietnam are still in the possession of the hunters. This follows an investigation by the National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit (NWCRU).

We are consulting at the diplomatic level and the outcome of this process will allow us to refuse all applications for white rhinoceros hunting by foreign hunters whose state of usual residence is Vietnam.

Vietnamese hunters being investigated On 7 March 2012 an urgent application was launched against the Limpopo MEC: Economic Development, Environment and Tourism and the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs by Mr. Jan Walters Slippers t/a Ingogo Safari’s in the North Gauteng High Court. The application was launched as a result of the Department advising provinces not to issue hunting permits to Vietnamese citizens due to various concerns regarding illegal hunting practices. The applicant in this matter had applied for hunting permits for 5 Vietnamese citizens. The permits were authorised but subsequently not issued due to the advice from the National Office of the Department of Environmental Affairs mentioned above. He then brought the application in order to compel the MEC to issue the said permits. The application was heard on 8 March 2012, and judgment was reserved until 9 March 2012. On the said date the court ordered the MEC to issue the permits, subject to the condition that the Vietnamese hunters submit themselves for interviews with designated Departmental officials for the purposes of verifying their personal details, backgrounds, financial ability and related information. The court afforded the Departments an opportunity to once more place the matter before it should the interviews reveal legitimate concerns. The two departments made the necessary arrangements for the hunters to attend the said interviews, but were informed on the day of these interviews that the hunters were not 6

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Rhino wars: South Africa (continued).... yet in the country. It was there-after ascertained by the Departments that there were certain legitimate concerns. Based upon these concerns, the matter was once more placed before the court, which on 22 March 2012 ordered that the permits need not be issued. A cost order was made against the applicant. The full judgment was delivered on 26 March 2012.

Before South Africa can approach CITES there are certain issues that need to be addressed. These include but are not limited to the following: All rhino horn in private and government possession must be permitted, marked, registered and verified Strategic engagements with regional and international partners Trading partners must be identified and confirmed Legislation of trading partners must be amended to enable Rhino horn stockpile The rhino horn stockpile is an area that continues to generate them to legally import and sell rhino horn (no legal trade interest. I do want to reiterate that an inventory of the rhino permitted currently in consumer states) horn stockpile in the possession of conservation agencies in Development of a proposed system for trade, including South Africa has been completed but due to security risks the appropriate legislative provisions in South Africa and Department cannot publicly announce the amount of stocks potential recipient countries (Similar to ivory trade process, where Japan and China had to provide for legislative systems being held by these agencies. to ensure control mechanisms are in place relating to ivory) Cabinet approval needed before submission of a proposal to On the issue of stockpiles, I want to use this opportunity the Conference of Parties to the Convention on International to urge private landowners to register their rhino horn Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) stockpiles with their respective provincial conservation to amend the annotation to the CITES listing of the South authorities. In terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 it is a legal requirement African population of White rhino. Currently the annotation is for the exclusive purpose of allowing international trade that a permit is obtained to possess rhino horn. The rhino in live animals to appropriate and acceptable destinations horn should also be included in a register and be microchipped. The public can contact the Department’s call centre and hunting trophies. All other specimens are deemed to be specimens of species included in Appendix I and the trade in on 086 111 2468 for further information on this matter. them shall be regulated accordingly (no trade for commercial purposes allowed). Trade in rhino horn If the process is similar to the African elephant down listing There has been a lot of interest on the issue of South Africa and ivory sale proposals, a Panel of Experts (PoE) will be approaching CITES COP16 with a proposal to trade in rhino constituted with a ToR that could include the following: horn internationally. At this point, we are not in a position a) Evaluate the status and management of the rhino to pronounce on the matter as the internal preparatory processes are not yet finalized. I can however inform you that population, including: i) the viability and sustainability of the population, and the process to prepare for the 16th Conference of Parties potential risks has been initiated and interested and affected Parties were invited to register to participate in this process. Registration ii) the affected range State’s demonstrated ability to monitor the subject population and closed on 30 March 2012 and we will consider the draft iii) the effectiveness of current anti-poaching measures; proposals received. Proposals must be submitted to COP16 b) Evaluate the affected range State’s ability to control trade by 04 October 2012. rhino horn, including:

i) whether total levels of off take from both legal and illegal killing are sustainable ii) whether control of rhino horn stocks is adequate to prevent the mixing of legal and illegal rhino horn; iii) whether law enforcement is effective; and iv) whether enforcement and controls are sufficient to ensure that no significant amounts of rhino horn taken or traded illegally from other countries are traded within or through the territory of the affected range State; and c) where appropriate: i) the trade in parts and derivatives from the White rhino other than the horn and the controls on such trade in the proponent State; and ii) the controls on rhino horn trade in specified importing countries. Based on the report by the PoE, the Conference of Parties will consider the proposal. Two-thirds majority must be obtained for a proposal to be approved. The Department announced last week that I would engage my provincial counterparts on 30 March 2012 at MINMEC to approve for publication the amendments to the norms and standards for marking rhino horn and hunting white rhino for trophy hunting that we had drafted. The amendments were published on 30 September 2011 for public comments. I am pleased to announce that the amendments have been approved by MINMEC and will come into effect as soon as it is published in the government gazette. With regards to the comments received during the comments period, the majority of comments related to but were not restricted to; measures to follow the movement of rhino horns being strengthened to prevent them from entering the international trade market; samples for DNA analysis should also be taken of the live animal when translocated and not only of the horn; confirmation of the bona fide status of the hunting client as well as a provision that horns, which form part of a hunting trophy , must be mounted in South Africa prior to the export of the horns. 7

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Rhino wars: South Africa (continued).... a person may only hunt and export one rhino for trophy purposes within a twelve month period; rhino hunts must take place under the supervision of a conservation official preferably an environmental management inspector from the province concerned.In addition, when considering an application, the issuing authority has to consider whether the country of usual residence of the hunting client, where the horns and hunting trophy will be imported to, has adequate legislation to ensure that the horns and hunting trophy will be used for the purposes as indicated in the CITES export permit. DNA sampling is a new section contained in the norms and standards.

DNA collection This section states that DNA samples of rhino horns must be collected when live rhinos are darted for translocation, treatment and any other management purposes. DNA samples have to be collected from detached horns obtained through amongst others natural mortalities, dehorning, or rhino horn trophies, when such horns have to be microchipped. The results of these DNA samples aim to assist enforcement officials to achieve successful prosecutions during criminal proceedings.

Law enforcement staff cordon-off the scene following another rhino poaching incident in North-west Province, South Africa. Photo: Carmen van den Berg with kind permission of Declan Hofmeyr

To address the comments received, additional obligations and provisions have been included in the final draft norms and standards after the consultation process. Some of the provisions include all detached horns have to be marked by means of a micro-chip, as well as an external mark with a unique number. Additional information that is required from a hunting client in support of the application for a hunting permit; among others include proof of membership of a

hunting association, or proof of previous hunting experience. Some of the key amendments in the norms and standards include, the marking of all live rhinos sold and transported after commencement of the norms and standards that have not been micro-chipped will now have to be microchipped. The management of hunting of rhinoceros has been strengthened through among others, clarification that

The new norms and standards will strengthen the regulatory framework in terms of monitoring the legality of hunts and control over rhino horns. Stricter provisions relating to hunting were required to ensure processes are standardized and to reduce possible abuse of the system. The provinces have indicated that they will be able to implement the norms and standards. We are continuing to do research work to find more innovative mechanisms to curb rhino poaching. We once again make a call to members of the public to continue with all efforts they have mounted and call for more innovations and involvement of the South African society -----------Source: 8

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Prostitutes “posed as hunters” to kill rhinos in South Africa


syndicate that has been obtaining rhino hunting permits under false pretences has been unearthed by Media 24’s investigative journalists. Basically, Marnus Steyl, a 37-yearold South African lion breeder and safari operator, is alleged to be the international syndicate’s key supplier of horn to the East. How? By recruiting Thai prostitutes and strippers from clubs in Pretoria and Midrand to pose as “hunters”, whom South African law legally allows to shoot one rhino per year, in sham rhino trophy hunts. These “legally” acquired rhino horn trophies, bought at R65,000 per kilogram, and eventually sold for up to $35,000 per kilogram, would be shipped from South Africa to south-east Asia ------------Source:


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Kingdom’s arable land all but gone


arch 1, 2012 - If the government continues to grant economic land and mining concessions at the current rate, there will be no more arable land left in the country to give away within one year, a researcher from the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said yesterday. Pointing to the vast increase in economic land concessions granted last year alone, which rights group Adhoc places at about 800,000 hectares, Ouch Leng, the head of the CCHR’s land reform program, said only 300,000 hectares of unclaimed arable land remained. “The government can grant licenses for one more year because the remaining arable land is only 386,294 hectares,” he said.

comment. But figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday showed 1.19 million hectares had now been granted in ELCs, far below findings from rights groups Adhoc and Licadho released late last year, which put the number closer to 2 million.

Exploratory mining concessions had been included in this calculation, he said, because while firms granted these rights did not technically own the land, they acted like it in practice by erecting fences and expelling villagers from the area.

A map from Licadho obtained by the Post shows that 54.90 percent of all arable land in Cambodia had been absorbed by ELC’s alone up until November 2011.

Ouch Leng said increasing outbreaks of civil unrest across the country such as the protests in Kandal, Kratie and Ratanikkiri province were sounding a clear message that Prime Minister Hun Sen had begun to heed.

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator at Licadho, said that the latest figures show two-thirds of all arable land in Cambodia has now been given away through ELCs.

On Monday, the premier canceled all 35 commercial fishing “We [Cambodians] are dependent on agriculture, but twolots on the Tonle Sap lake, leaving the country’s most fertile thirds of arable land has been granted as economic land fishing ground entirely for small scale fishermen. concessions,” he said. Beng Hong Socheat Khnmero, spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management, said ELCs were not the responsibility of his ministry and deferred questions to Ministry of Agriculture officials, who could not be reached for

including forest concessions, about 39 percent of Cambodia’s entire land mass has been granted to private firms ------------Source: May Titthara and David Boyle (PhomPenh Post)

“I don’t know if the government is worried, but NGOs are.” Statistics released by Adhoc last year found that when all types of private concessions were added together, 10

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Cambodia -Prey Lang villagers on patrol


arch 26, 2012, Kampong Thom province, Cambodia - About 500 frustrated villagers, citing the authorities’ inaction as their motivation, rode some 250 motorbikes into Prey Lang forest over the weekend in yet another effort to combat illegal logging they say is decimating the area. The villagers from four provinces surrounding Prey Lang – Kratie, Stung Treng, Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear – have vowed to continue patrols in coming days and to block a road used by rubber company CRCK if authorities don’t take action. Villagers have said the government’s decision to grant CRCK an economic land concession in the forest has contributed to its decimation and threatened the livelihoods of people living in the area.

Thom, said motorbike patrols would continue throughout the week. “The reason we decided to do this is because the number of illegal loggers are increasing, but the authority has done nothing to stop these people. So we have to do instead of the authority,” Soem San said. Villagers had already found about 50 cubic metres of wood, which they would give to provincial authorities as evidence, Soem Sean said. “I am not afraid of being arrested, because I am not destroying the trees – I am protecting them,” he said. Fellow representative Om Mich, 48, said the group planned to block the road to CRCK’s site in Meanrith commune, in Kampong Thom’s Sandan district, on Wednesday.

Soem Sean, a villager representative from Kampong

no charges were laid. Kampong Thom province deputy governor Ouch Sam On said yesterday villagers were required to report illegal logging to forestry officials. “If they burn the timber like they have in the past, I will consider their activity illegal, because only forestry officers are allowed to do that,” he said, adding that he welcomed villagers who cooperated with his authority to crack down on illegal logging. Chan Soeth, senior investigator for the human-rights group Adhoc, said some villagers depended on the forest for their livelihoods, but had not received support from the government at a local or national level. As many as 100 containers of wood were being taken out of Sandan commune, in Kratie’s Sambor district each day, he said, while some illegal loggers were striking deals with local officials or had RCAF soldiers behind them.

“We will block the road because we want to ask the government to find a resolution about this company’s activities. The way it is cutting down trees in Prey Lang is just anarchy,” he said. “We are not forestry officers, More than 30 companies have been granted economic but we are protecting the trees . . . otherwise, the young and mining land concessions in the forest. generation will not see them any more.” ---------News and photo source: May Titthara, Phnom Penh Post Kampong Thom province police chief Phan Sopheng and Sandan district police chief Oung Moly said no plans had been made to deploy police to the area on Wednesday, despite villagers having heard that about 100 officers would be patrolling the road. When villagers carried out similar patrols last month, police criticised them for burning timber they found but


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Iridescent Short-Legged Lizard Discovered In Northeast Cambodia


ebruary 22, 2012 - Phnom Penh, Cambodia — Scientists announced today the discovery of a never-before-seen skink in Cambodia which is characterized by its very short legs, long tail and striking iridescent skin. The skink was found during a Rapid Assessment Program expedition in northeast Cambodia led by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), in partnership with Conservation International (CI) between February and March of 2010. The skink, described in a paper published this month by Zootaxa, was named Lygosoma veunsaiensis to honor the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area in Ratanakiri where it was found. It is the latest in a string of new species discovered in this area, including Walston’s tubenosed bat Murina walstoni and the northern yellowcheeked gibbon Nomascus annamensis.

The skink is unusual in having extremely short limbs and a very long tail, considerably longer than its body. In sunlight a refracting quality to the scales creates a rainbow-like effect along its body. “This is the third new species in the last two years to be discovered in Veun Sai,” said Ben Rawson the Conservation International site manager. “Last year a new type of bat was found here, and in 2010 a new gibbon species was described. Naming this new skink Lygosoma veunsaiensis is a nice tribute to the area’s biological value.” “These creatures are difficult to find because they spend so much of their life underground,” said Neang Thy, a Cambodian national working for FFI and the first herpetologist to see the new skink. “Some similar species are known from only a few individuals. We were very lucky to find this one.” “Three decades of conflict effectively prevented herpetological investigations until the late 1990s, but Cambodia is proving a biodiversity hot spot for new discoveries, especially new reptiles,” said Peter Geissler from Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig in Germany, and one of the authors who described the skink. “Now we have a chance to uncover many of the things that have previously been missed” ----------Source: Conservation International

Photo: Gabor Csorba, Hungarian Natural History Museum

Vietnam: Tram Chim National Park becomes Ramsar site


ebruary 27, 2012 - The Tram Chim National Park in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap has been recognised as the world’s 2,000th Ramsar site, which lists wetlands of international importance. Nguyen Duc Tu, Water and Wetlands Coordinator of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Vietnam, said the recognition was conveyed to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment by Ananda Tiega, General Secretary of the Ramsar Convention. The Tram Chim National Park has become the country’s fourth Ramsar site after the Xuan Thuy National Wetland Reserve in the northern province of Nam Dinh, which was recognised in 1988; the Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake) Wetlands and Seasonal Floodplains in Cat Tien National Park in southern Dong Nai Province, in 2005; and the Ba Be National Park in northern Bac Kan Province, in 2011. The 7,588-ha park is home to 130 species of plants, 100 species of vertebrate animals, 40 species of fish and 147 species of water birds. The most distinguished resident bird is the Sarus Crane Grus antigone, which has been recognised as a threatened species and mentioned in the IUCN’s Red Book.

The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, and has continued to provide a framework for wetland preservation since then. The convention embodies the commitment of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for sustainable use of all the wetlands in their territories ---------Source: Vietnam News 12

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Cambodia: ‘Vulture restaurants’ bring hope for survival of species


ebruary 17, 2012 - So-called ‘vulture restaurants,’ where Cambodia’s small but strengthening vulture population congregates to feast on cattle slain for them by wildlife groups, are proving to be the species’ lifelines in Asia. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) along with BirdLife International and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), implemented the restaurants in 2003 when WCS realised the country’s vultures badly needed to be protected. The bird has all but disappeared in other Asian countries due to the frequent use of the drug diclofenac in cattle the birds prey upon. Diclofenac causes kidney necrosis in vultures, but it is not used in Cambodia.

food due to poaching and habitat destruction. There’s just less wild cattle now - that’s why we provide the food,’ said Project Manager at the Preah Vihear site Tan Setha. Since the first restaurant’s opening in 2003, numbers of vultures at the site have jumped from five to 89 per month. ‘I think that’s quite good’, Mr. Setha said. The site’s success prompted the opening of six other ‘restaurants’ across four provinces in Cambodia’s less developed northern plains - Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Ratanakiri - to open business. Vultures linger mainly in the country’s north because that is where the last wild cattle remain, according to Mr. Mahood. Now, every month sees the slaughter of one cow at each of the seven sites.

‘More than 99 percent of vultures in the Indian subcontinent have vanished because of this drug,’ said Simon Mahood, Technical Adviser for WCS’s vulture conservation project. ‘Cambodia is the best chance for vulture conservation in According to an annual WCS census, the raptor’s population Asia because there’s no diclofenac here,’ he said adding that has stabilised. Last year saw 267 vultures, compared to 292 vulture numbers outside Cambodia are still decreasing as the in 2010 and 209 in 2009. drug continues to be used. Thought he said he is hesitant to claim the vulture population Cambodia’s three vulture species - the red-headed, slender- is definitively increasing, Mr. Mahood said Cambodia is the billed and white-rump - used to be distributed throughout only Asian country where the population is not declining Myanmar, India, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as well, Mr. and might actually be on the rise. ‘There aren’t a lot of Mahood said. But numbers have plummeted over the past 10 conservation success stories in Asia, but it’s great to have this years, especially in Thailand, where vultures are now extinct, and all it takes is a cow a month.’ and in India, which has seen the most rapid decline. There are no vultures in Japan or Korea, and only a few in China’s Bou Vorsak, Programme Manager of BirdLife International, Himalaya Mountains. was more confident that the population is indeed increasing. He echoed other conservationists’ sentiments that the Recognising the important role Cambodia could play in project is important because so much is at stake: ‘It’s very conserving what was left of Asia’s vultures, WCS began important that Cambodia can contribute to preventing this slaughtering one cow a month in a protected forest area in species from extinction.’ Preah Vihear to ensure the vultures had food to eat, as wild carcasses have dwindled. The triumph is not without challenges. Alistair Mould, Deputy Project Manager at Angkor Center for Conservation ‘The problem in Cambodia isn’t the medicine, but a lack of of Biodiversity, a primary sponsor of the project, said the

Red-headed and slender-billed vultures. Photo: Jonathan C. Eames birds’ chances are good but not excellent. Change of habitat through land grabbing and commercial acquisitions is a huge problem to conservation, he said. ‘The key to the vulture’s future,’ he said, ‘is habitat management for the prey they need to survive on.’ But for now, as vultures continue to descend upon the country’s northern plains, conservationists hope the vulture is here to stay. ‘Cambodia should be proud that the species still exists in the wild here, while in the rest of the world the population is declining,’ said WWF Country Director Seng Teak -----------Source: Claire Luke, The Cambodia Daily


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

The First Record Of OverSummering Spoon-Billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus Pygmeus In Thailand


uly 2010 - During routine monthly surveys of oversummering shorebirds and other waterbirds conducted by the Wildlife Research Division of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation of the Thai government, a single Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus was found feeding among Red-necked Stints Calidris ruficollis on newly accreting intertidal mudflats at Khok Kham, Samut Sakhon Province, Thailand (c. 13° 31’ N; 100° 19’ E) on 19 July 2010. Many shorebirds display delayed maturity, not returning to natal sites until their second or third year (Loftin 1962, Summers et al. 1995, Rogers et al. 2006) and it has long been assumed that first-year Spoon-billed Sandpipers do likewise (Tomkovich 1995, Zöckler et al. 2010a). This appears to be the first documented record of a Spoon-billed Sandpiper over-summering in the nonbreeding grounds. Given the critically endangered status and ongoing rapid population decline of Spoon-billed Sandpipers (Zöckler et al. 2010a, b), this over-summering record is highly significant. Read full paper here -------------Source: Krairat Eiam-Ampai, Somchai Nimnuan, Thiti Sonsa, Smith Sutibut and Philip D. Round. The First Record Of OverSummering Spoon-Billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus Pygmeus In Thailand. Stilt 60 (2011): 57–60 Photo: Somchai Nimnuan

regional news International Black-faced Spoonbill Census 2012


arch 7, 2012 - The Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor is endemic to East Asia. In the past decade, Black-faced Spoonbill’s number has shown a steady increase from below 1,000 to more than 2,000 individuals. However, there was an unpleasant surprise with the result of last year’s census; - a drop in number from 2,347 individuals in 2010 to 1,839 individuals in 2011. The result of the 2012 census has resolved some of worries because this census has resulted in a new high of 2,693 individuals, an increase of 15% from the previous peak figure in 2010. Mr. Yu Yat-tung, Research Manager of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (HKBWS), pointed out that “More than 800 individual Black-faced Spoonbills “went missing” last year, which made us worried. However, this year’s total exceeded 2,500 for the first time. This count has eased our worries and the higher counts mainly come from Taiwan and Mainland China. However, we still can not figure out exactly why the numbers fluctuated in the past two years.” Yu added: “Although the known population of Blackfaced Spoonbills has increased, in Hong Kong the numbers of this species at Deep Bay has dropped in two consecutive years from 462 birds in 2010 to 411 birds in 2011, and further to 393 individuals in 2012. This is a 15% decrease in the past two years. The Deep Bay area is the second largest wintering congregation site in the world and so the decrease of the Black-faced Spoonbill’s number is of significance internationally and locally. Higher numbers have been recorded at several coastal sites in China, and we speculate that some spoonbills may have chosen to stay in northern areas due to a

warmer winter in 2011-12. Counts in other northern areas such as Japan and South Korea also revealed higher numbers than the previous year, but the Deep Bay area and Red River Delta of Vietnam saw some decreases in the BFS wintering total. ” Last winter, one satellite-tracked Black-faced Spoonbill was found to be wintering in Cambodia, a country with relatively few keen bird watchers and ornithologists. A survey may be needed to discover if there is a wintering BFS population in Cambodia. The 2012 census took place from 13 to 15 January and the full results are as follows: • The census recorded a total of 2,693 spoonbills in 2012, which was 854 more spoonbills than that of the census in 2011. This is also a 46% and 15% increment, compared with 2011 and 2010 14

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Grey-crowned Crocias crops-up in Kon Tum province, Vietnam

some distance below within a steep valley.


arch 28, 2012 - One of the rarest birds in the world, endemic to Vietnam, has just been discovered at a new location in Kon Tum Province, by David Bishop of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, significantly extending its known global range and offering hope that the species may not be as threatened with extinction as scientists fear. Grey-crowned Crocias Crocias langbianbis is one of the least know birds of Asia: it was so are it was known as the “babbler that wouldn’t come back.” It was first described by a Swedish aristocrat, Count Gyldenstople in 1939 from three specimens collected by young adventurer Bertil Bjorkgren. For over 50 years there were no further records until

it was rediscovered by Jonathan C Eames, Le Trong Trai and Nguyen Cu at Chu Yang Sin National Park in 1994. The species is currently considered Endangered with extinction by IUCN. On 19 March 2012 professional bird tour leader David Bishop was with clients leading a Victor Emanuel Nature Tour (VENT) at Mang Den in Kon Tum Province, when he first heard and then saw a pair of Grey-crowned Crocias. “Soon after arrival at the site I immediately recognized the distinctive calls of Grey-crowned Crocias,” said David. “I made a sound recording and observed a pair calling and duetting from the nearby tops of trees in a small clearing.” A second pair was heard later

“This is the first time this globally Endangered and little-known species has been recorded in Kon Tum Province. Previously it was known only from sites in Lam Dong and Dak Lak provinces. These records extend the range of this rather localized species by circa 250 km northwards,” said Le Trong Trai Senior Programme Officer with BirdLife Vietnam Programme. “Hopefully the knowledge that this species actually occupies a larger range than previously thought will greatly enhance its conservation prospects. It perhaps also underlines the value of professionally led bird tours!” Added Richard Craik whose company Vietnam Birding was the ground agent for the VENT group ---------Source: BirdLife International in Indochina Photo: Jonathan C. Eames

International Black-faced Spoonbill....(continued) respectively. • The largest wintering flock was again recorded in Taiwan, where there were a total of 1,562 individuals, representing 58% of the known wintering Black-faced Spoonbill population. This was an increase of 728 birds, or 22% more than the previous peak figure from 2010. • The Deep Bay area - including both sides of Hong Kong and Shenzhen - produced a total of 393 individuals, which was a decrease of 18 (4%) and 69 (15%) from 2011 and 2010 respectively. • Along the eastern coast of mainland China the total count of wintering Black-faced Spoonbill has increased by 66% to a figure of 328 birds, which also had an increase of 35% from the figure of 2010.

HKBWS’s Black-faced Spoonbill Recording System In order to collect and promote information of home range and migration of the Black-faced Spoonbill, the HKBWS has established a web-based record system to keep tracking sighting of colour-ringed Black-faced Spoonbills. This should lead us to have a better understanding of the life cycle of the Blackfaced Spoonbill. HKBWS also aims to encourage more members of the general public to take part in some of these observations and to submit sighting of ringed individuals. Website of Black-faced Spoonbills Recording System: ------------News and photo source: Yu Yat-tung, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

A new species of Bat Hipposideros (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae) from Vietnam


new species of Hipposideros is described from Vietnam. Morphologically, it is similar to taxa in the Hipposideros armiger complex but is substantially smaller. The new species, which has been found living sympatrically with H. armiger in Cat Ba National Park, is distinguished from it by size, acoustic characters, and differences in the mitochondrial DNA. Currently, the new taxon is known from Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam and from Chu Mom Ray National Park, which is situated on the mainland some 1,000 km to the south. It was collected in disturbed and primary forests. Read full paper here -------------Source: Vu Dinh Thong, Sebastien J. Puechmaille, Annette Denzinger, Christian Dietz, Gabor Csorba, Paul J. J. Bates, Emma C. Teeling, and Hans-Ulrich Schnitzler (2012) A new species of Hipposideros (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae) from Vietnam. Journal of Mammalogy: February 2012, Vol. 93, No. 1, pp. 1-11.


ipposideros turpis is traditionally known as a species composed of three subspecies, H. t. turpis, H. t. alongensis and H. t. pendleburyi, distributed disjunctively in south-west Japan, north-east Vietnam and south-west Thailand, respectively. Prior to the present study, the systematic status of forms within the species remained unclear.

Photo credit: Vu Dinh Thong

New “Save Our Species” Call for Proposals Open


Systematics of the Hipposideros turpis complex and a description of a new bat subspecies from Vietnam

he second Save Our Species (SOS) call for proposals for threatened species grants is now open and will close on June 22nd, 2012. Please click here to download the call for proposals. Rapid Action Grants will continue to be accepted on an ongoing basis.

Applications for Threatened Species Grants will be accepted for the following Strategic Directions: • Threatened tropical terrestrial Asian vertebrates • Threatened small marine mammals • Threatened cycads • Threatened freshwater African animals. Read more details at

Using morphological (external, bacular, cranial and dental characters), genetic and echolocation data, the authors demonstrate that turpis, alongensis and pendleburyi represent three distinct species, and that these species are endemic to Japan, Vietnam and Thailand, respectively. They are very distinct genetically and do not even form a monophyletic group. The researchers also prove that H. alongensis is composed of two subspecies, H. a. alongensis and H. a. sungi. The latter subspecies is described as new to science. To date, H. a. alongensis appears to be restricted to the Cat Ba Island of Cat Ba National Park, west Ha Long Bay, whereas H. a. sungi ssp. nov. is known from three localities in mainland northeast Vietnam. These two subspecies are distinguished by body size, molecular data and the frequency of the constant-frequency component of their echolocation signals. Read full paper here -------------Source: Vu Dinh Thong, Sebastien J. Puechmaille, Annette Denzinger, Paul J.J. Bates, Christian Dietz, Gabor Csorba, Pipat Soisook, Emma C. Teeling, Sumiko Matsumura, Neil M. Furey, Hans-Ulrich Schnitzler. Systematics of the Hipposideros turpis complex and a description of a new subspecies from Vietnam. Mammal Review Volume 42, Issue 2, pages 166–192, April 2012

-------------Source: Save Our Species website


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Thailand De�ies Neighbors on Contentious Xayaburi Dam


overnment moves forward with project despite regional opposition

February 29, 2012 - Bangkok, Thailand – As the governments of the Mekong region continue to deliberate on the proposed Xayaburi Dam in Laos, the Thai government has defied the regional decision-making process and pushed ahead with the project’s implementation. Recent oversight hearings by the Thai Senate and the National Human Rights Commission confirm that the government has joined Laos in concluding that the regional process is complete, thereby allowing Thai developer Ch. Karnchang to proceed with construction. “The Thai government has ignored the agreements made last year amongst the four regional governments and the concerns expressed by Cambodia and Vietnam. With more than eight provinces in Thailand at risk from the Xayaburi Dam’s transboundary impacts, the state has also disregarded its duty to protect its own people from harm. It’s irresponsible to push forward with this dam, when the project’s impacts on Thailand have yet to be adequately studied,” said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Campaign Coordinator for International Rivers. An investigation by International Rivers last week revealed that preliminary

construction on the Xayaburi Dam is continuing, despite the agreement by the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam in December 2011 to pursue further study of the impacts of hydropower on the Mekong River before deciding whether to build the project. A large number of workers have been employed for a two year period to construct access roads and facilities for the project. In a letter dated 30 January 2012, the Thai Minister of Energy Arak Cholthanon informed the Senate Committee on Corruption Investigation and Good Governance Promotion that “the Ministry of Natural Resources confirms that the Prior Consultation process has completed.” Minister Cholthanon further stated that “EGAT [the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand] and the Xayaburi project developer have signed the PPA [power purchase agreement] on 29 October 2011.” Thailand has not disclosed the power purchase agreement to the public. “The Mekong River Commission governments have not yet reached agreement on the Xayaburi Dam nor have they closed the prior consultation process,” said Ms. Lam Thi Thu Suu, Director of the Centre for Social Research and Development in Vietnam. “By committing to purchase power from the dam and moving forward with the project’s implementation, EGAT and Ch. Karnchang

Construction in Xayaburi dam. Photo by Suthep Kritsanavarin are violating the trust and goodwill of Thailand’s neighbours. No construction on the Xayaburi Dam should proceed while further study is underway.” On 21 February 2012, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand organized a public hearing on the Xayaburi Dam after receiving a complaint from Thai communities in eight provinces. Several

Thai government officials testified about their involvement in the project, including representatives from EGAT, the Ministry of Energy, and the Energy Regulatory Commission. Five Thai companies also testified about their involvement, including Thai project developer Ch. Karnchang and investors from Krung Thai Bank, Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, and Siam Commercial Bank. 17

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

Thailand De�ies...(continued) The hearing confirmed that the four Thai banks have already provided financial support for the Xayaburi Dam. In a resolution on 15 November 2011, the Thai Cabinet granted permission to stateowned Krung Thai Bank to invest in the project. When the Commission asked about the steps they took to examine the project’s environmental and social impacts, however, the banks were not able to provide detailed information. “It’s astonishing to think that the financiers of this project have not taken the dam’s significant environmental and social impacts more seriously. Even a five minute search on the internet would reveal numerous media reports that highlight the concerns of the Thai people,” said Ms Deetes. “The recklessness of EGAT’s and the Thai companies’ pursuit of the project is likely to become a catastrophe for our country’s reputation. We call on the Thai government to immediately cancel the power purchase agreement and for Thai banks to withdraw financing from the Xayaburi Dam.” Although the Xayaburi Dam site is located in Laos, Thailand is building and financing the project. The Thai government plans to purchase 95% of the electricity, although an independent study has already concluded that the Xayaburi Dam’s electricity is not needed to meet Thailand’s demand for energy in the coming decades --------Source: International Rivers

regional news

Vietnam: National Strategic Plan on Climate Change approved


anoi, 25 December 2011 - The Prime Minister has officially announced Decision 2139/QĐ-TTg approving the National Strategic Plan on Climate Change. The Decision states that climate change is one of the most serious challenges for humans, causing negative impacts on lives and livelihoods. Being one of the most vulnerable countries, Vietnam regards climate change as an urgent issue and key challenge in the upcoming time.

resources in the context of climate change. 2) Develop a low carbon economy with green growth. 3) Raise awareness, responsibility and build capacity for responding to climate change for stakeholders, develop scientific and military capability and human resource, complete the institution and policy; effectively use the opportunity provided by climate change. 4) Collaborate with the international community to fight against climate change.

As an example of the potential severity of climate change impacts on Vietnam: if the sea level was to increase by one meter, 40 percent of Mekong Delta’s area, 11 percent of Red River Delta’s area and three percent of total area of coastal provinces would be flooded, over 20 percent of Ho Chi Minh city would be flooded and 10-12 percent of Vietnamese population would be directly affected. Just a one meter sea level rise is estimated to cause a loss of 10 percent of GDP.

The National Strategic Plan on Climate Change prepares to establish a climate change and sea level rise monitoring system by 2015, and increase the accuracy of storm and weather forecasts to meet the Asian standard in order to reduce the loss of human and property caused by natural disasters. In addition, forest resources must be managed in a sustainable manner to ensure resistance to natural disasters, desertification, soil salinity, and other climate change impacts. The National Strategic Plan on Climate Change ha a vision that by 2020, the forest coverage of Vietnam will reach 45 percent. Download the full document in Vietnamese and English ---------Source: Vietnam Plus

In order to effective cope with climate change, the national strategic plan established four specific objectives: 1) Ensure food security, energy security, water resource security, poverty eradication, gender equality, social welfare, public health, improve the quality of life and protect natural

Vietnam: Over $123 million for afforestation to 2021


ebruary 27, 2012 - The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has approved a US$123 million project on sustainable management of protective forests.

The project, which is backed by official development assistance from the Japanese government, will include the planting of nearly 18,000 hectares of protective forest as well as work on improving the quality of 2,690 hectares of existing forest and placing another 34,500 hectares under protection.

The project also aims to improve management of forests and will be implemented in 11 provinces, including Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan, from now to 2021 -------------Source: Vietnam News


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Vietnam bear sanctuary struggles to fight off developers The sanctuary has been hailed as one of the most successful conservation stories in Vietnam, a country with a rampant trade in animal products and rapid deforestation. But Animals Asia warns that its future could be at stake if plans to build a hotel in the area get the go-ahead. The hotel plan is the brainchild of Truong Giang Tam Dao Joint Stock Company. The company, set up in April 2011, sought permission to rent 48 hectares of land from the national park, under legislation introduced last year allowing tourist resorts with environmental credentials to be built on parkland.

application to rent the land. He has also said the sanctuary is missing required paperwork, including an environmental impact assessment. Bendixsen said the centre has written approval from the prime minister and a decision from the ministry, and has already invested 240,000 dollars in compensation for the relocation of nine families. He said any delay to the sanctuary extension could give the bile industry a boost. “The Forest Protection Department works very hard to save bears from bile farms,” he says. “But they don’t have enough resources. If they have nowhere safe to take confiscated bears, they will have to leave them in

But 6 hectares of the planned development is on land that Vietnam Bear Rescue Center in Tam Dao National Park. Animals Asia says is theirs Photo: Tuoi tre News under an agreement with the Agriculture Ministry. They hope to afe behind a 3-metre electric fence, a moon bear swings suspended on a rubber tyre, limbs stretched out build enough enclosures on the land to house 101 more bears, to the four points of the compass. Its mien, bulk and implementing the second phase glossy coat all suggest a healthy, happy existence. But the of their 3.4-million-dollar project. bear has not always had it easy.


However, when construction started in September, they were stopped by the director of the national park, Do Dinh Tien. “As soon as soon as workers The Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre is operated by international began digging for the foundations organisation Animals Asia in Tam Dao National Park, about 70 of the new bear enclosure, they were told to stop,” Animals Asia kilometres north of Hanoi. country director Tuan Bendixsen Currently, 99 sun bears and moon bears live here, confiscated said. from bile farms or given up by pet owners. Just two days earlier, the park There are around 4,000 bears in farms across the country, director wrote to the ministry and only a few hundred left in the wild. for approval of Truong Giang’s A closer look reveals a missing paw, chewed off in distress over the years that it was locked in a cage, drugged and poked with a needle twice a day to extract its bile before it was rescued.

Australian vets Rae Joy (L) and Kirsty Officer (R) give treatment to a rescued moon bear at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao National Park, March 14, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Nguyen Ha Minh


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Vietnam: Survival doubtful for local elephants


pril 23, 2012 - Wild elephants could disappear from Vietnam’s Central Highlands permanently as deforestation has destroyed their habitat and source of food needed for survival.

the bodies of two other elephants, one weighing 400500 kg and the other two tonnes, were found in the same commune. Vice director of the province’s Agriculture and Rural Development and head of Forest Protection Division, Y Rit Buon Ya, said that several elephants in the area had been hunted as food, and others had died of accidents or eaten inappropriate food.

Vietnam bear sanctuary....(continued) the farms and what kind of deterrent will that be to the industry?” In another, Animals Asia said Tien’s daughter is one of the four founders of the Truong Giang development company, a claim which appeared to be borne out by the company’s registration papers.

Their survival in the country remains doubtful as plans for a preservation project remain only on paper and forests continue to be cut down for rubber, coffee and cassava plantations. In 2006, the Prime Minister approved an action plan for The illegal killing of wild elephants for their tusks and elephant conservation in the three provinces of Nghe tails is common in some provinces. Y Rit said that last An, Dong Nai and Dak Lak. year, the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre was established as part of a protection plan expected to In the Central Highland province of Dak Lak alone, around 100 wild elephants live in districts of Buon Don assist local people with nursing their domesticated elephants, as well as to oversee and protect wild ones. and Ea Sup (nearer 10 than 100 ed.). The province’s However, so far, the projects has yet to provide any People’s Committee signed a project in 2010 to preserve elephants in the province through 2015, with intervention. the total budget of VND 61 billion (US$2.9 million). Huynh Trung Luan, director of the centre, said that a budget and staff shortfall have delayed the project. Nevertheless, between March 26 and 31, police and The centre received VND 350 million ($16,800) out of forest-protection forces from the province’s Ea Sup District found three dead elephants. A 150-kg elephant the VND 61 billion ($2.9 million), but the money is not enough to pay the salaries of the centre’s six officials, was found in Cu M’Lan commune, and six days later, according to Luan.

The phone number and registration address given were for a grocery shop, whose owner told Deutsche Presse-Agentur she had no knowledge of a development company. Tien denied that his daughter was a founder of Truong Giang.

The centre was planned to be built on 200 hectares, including 100 hectares for breeding the animal and planting food for them. The other 100 hectares would contain an elephant medical centre. The province has asked to use 163 hectares of Yok Don National Park to build the centre, but the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development rejected the proposal.

He is currently working on another case in Ba Vi, 48 kilometres from Hanoi, where developers have clashed with local residents. In Tam Dao park, the problem could be settled in favour of Animals Asia, but Bendixsen remains cautious. “Now we have to wait to see the official document they release, in case the wording is ambiguous,” he said ---------Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2012

“Many companies apply to develop land in the national park. It’s up to the ministry to decide who is allowed to,” he said. To resolve the dispute, the government’s Administration of Forestry called a meeting in Hanoi last week with conservationists and ministry officials. Authorities decided that Animals Asia was indeed missing some paperwork, but only of recent changes in environmental regulation. The group was ordered to submit more documents, and a final decision on the issue was to be published in the next 10 days. Tran The Lien, director of the government’s Natural Conservation Department, said national parks in good locations are hot property at the moment. “I am under a lot of pressure dealing with land disputes between eco-tourism projects and conservationists,” he said.

According to the ministry, the land 20

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Survival doubtful..(continued) located in the area needs to be strictly protected. The province is considering using 200 hectares of protected forest in Don Village to develop the centre. Central Highland University’s associate professor and Dr Bao Huy, a consultant in the elephant preservation project, said that conservationists and authorities should be aware of their responsibility for elephant deaths regardless of the cause. According to a survey by the project consultancy group, in 2009, the province had 61 domesticated elephants and about 80-110 wild elephants. The project targets three main pillars: health care and reproductive health assistance to domesticated elephants, preservation and expansion of the wild elephant population, and conservation of elephant culture in Central Highland. Huy said that besides complicated administrative procedures and fund shortages, insufficient human resources posed a difficulty to project implementation. Moreover, nearly all the urgent actions recommended in the project study had not yet been carried out, Huy said. “A drastic measure to protect wild elephants would be to make the forests where elephants live completely protected conservation areas,” he said, adding that the elephants needed huge spaces to live and grow. Meanwhile, domesticated elephants should be taken in for medical assistance and for male and female elephants to breed, rather than live separately and overserve local tourism -----------Source: Vietnam News and Vietnam Net

Vietnam central region: green forests shout for help as they are devastated


pril 23, 2012 - Dak Lak and Dak Nong provinces have leased forest land to enterprises to grow rubber trees, manage and protect the forests. However, while the rubber projects still cannot bring profits, the green forests have been seriously devastated.

hectares of forestry land to implement 35 projects. To date, the project owners have developed 5000 hectares of rubber and forests. Meanwhile, according to the provincial agriculture department, only nine projects have been implemented well.

In the years from 2004 to 2011, the two provincial authorities leased 57,000 hectares of forest area to 70 enterprises which promise to implement 71 investment projects. About 50 percent of the forest area would be reserved for grow forest and rubber trees, while the other 50 percent are natural forests which need careful protection.

The project implementation, including the implementation of key items such as afforesting and growing rubber trees, has been going very slowly if compared with the investment plans. Especially, Ngoc Thach, Luan Thinh, Greenfeet Thailand, Hong Gia Phat, Thang Long companies have been pending the projects so far, since the day they leased thousands of hectares of forestry land.

However, to date, 5600 hectares of forests have been devastated.

Leasing forests to devastate forests The 34 enterprises in Dak Nong province leased 24,000

Of the total forestry land area Dak Nong province allocated to enterprises, there are 13,000 hectares of natural forests that need to be put under protection. However, 3600 hectares out of the 13,000 hectares have been “cannibalized.” 21

The Babbler 41 - May 2012


pril 14, 2012 - Mr. Nguyen Mau Oai, 85, in Thanh Hoa province, has illegally raised a dozen of tigers since 2006 but the local authorities have not taken any action. A neighbor says that Oai breeds 14 tigers. “Sometimes they fought with each other at night. They bawled and kept us awake,” the neighbor adds. Mr. Oai’s village is famous for processing glue from cow, buffalo, dog and pig bones. But local

regional news Mr. Oai says that in 2006, his son, Nguyen Mau Chien, who works in Hanoi, purchased these tigers, which were baby tigers at that time, from an ethnic minority man. At present, the tigers weigh from 250 to 300kg. Asking him about the license to breed tigers, he says that in early 2012, his son orally asked for permission from Thanh Hoa’s Chairman. He adds that he has transferred the tigers to his son-in-law, Mr. Nguyen Van Tu, a local official.

Vietnam: Man illegally breeds 14 tigers residents say that Oai raises tigers to process tiger bone glue. Oai’s tiger camp has attracted many visitors. Sometimes, several tigers were reported dead because of diseases, which raised doubts among local people. The number of tigers in Mr. Oai’s camp changes very often, from 10 in 2007 to 7 in 2008, 10 again in 2009, 7 again in 2010 and 14 in 2011. The question is why the local authorities have neglected this tiger camp and nobody has inspected the origin of the tigers.

In 2008, the former Chair of Thanh Hoa province, Mr. Mai Van Ninh, signed decisions to impose VND30 million ($1,500) on Tu and VND30 million on Chien for illegally raising ten tigers. However, these men have kept raising tigers, with changing numbers. Mr. Le The Long, chief of the Thanh Hoa Forest Protection Department, says that Mr. Chien and Mr. Tu are not licensed to breed tigers. The Vietnamese law also does not permit households and individuals to trade or breed rare wild animals, including tigers. Mr. Le Quoc Viet, another official from the Thanh Hoa Forest Protection Department says that the National Forest Protection Agency must take action against families that breed tigers in Tho Xuan district, Thanh Hoa province and release tigers back to the forest. Viet also asks the environmental police agency to investigate the number of tigers owned by Tu and Chien --------Source: Le Na, Vietnam Net

Vietnam central region....(continued) In Dak Lak province, 2000 hectares out of the 6400 hectares of forests allocated to nine enterprises have been devastated. Phan Hong Private Enterprise saw 132 hectares out of 546 allocated hectares ruined. Especially, 824 hectares under the control of Tri Duc Rubber Company have been devastated.

How to claim back the trillions of VND?

Also according to the officer, in many cases it is the enterprises, which “turned the green light on” for illegal lumberjacks to devastate the forests.

It is estimated that the damaged 5000 hectares of forests in Dak Lak and Dak Nong has caused the loss of 2 trillion VND. The Dak Lak provincial authorities are also considering forcing enterprises compensate for the forests.

On May 9, 2011, Do The Nhu, Deputy Chair of the Dak Nong province signed a document asking the forest ranger unit to clarify the loss of forests put under the control of 12 enterprises. The local authorities announced that enterprises would be “punished An officer of the local forest ranger in accordance with the current unit said that it is understandable why laws”, which is understood that the the forests have been chopped down. enterprises will have to compensate The thing that the enterprises need is for the lost forests. the land, not the forests. Therefore, they do not spend time and efforts Most recently, the provincial to control the forests. In many cases, authorities released the decision to enterprises do not know how many punish the enterprises, under which hectares of forests put under their the projects of three enterprises will control have been devastated. be revoked.

Y Rit Buon Ya, Head of the Dak Lak Forest Ranger Unit, forests have disappeared partially because local residents chopped down trees to get land for agricultural production. However, he also thinks that in many cases, local residents have been incited to devastate the forests.

However, in fact, analysts have commented that it would be very difficult to claim back the huge sums of trillions of VND ---------Source: Vietnam Net


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

regional news

Caught, chopped and.....


ust one step from A Pa Chai (Sin Thau commune, Muong Nhe district of Dien Bien Province, Vietnam) over Vietnam-China border, you will see a big wildlife market. It opens three times a month, attracting hundreds of people from both Vietnam and China to come and buy wild animal meat. It is said there is no forest within a radius of 100 kilometres on China side, thus all wild animals sold at the market are caught from Muong Nhe National Park (Vietnam). See how the fate of those animals end.... ---------Source: (in Vietnamese)


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

Rarest of the rare

Scaly-sided Mergansers on the Red River in Hanoi


n 16th November 2011, Sebastien Delonglee visited one of his local birwatching patches, the sandbars at the foot of Vinh Tuy Bridge, two kilometres from Hanoi. This is a large sandy, almost treeless area, lying next to the Red River and totally submerged during rainy season months. In winter and spring, most of the area is dry, but sometimes retains wetlands. It is an interesting place for migrant waders.

At around 17h00, he saw seven Scaly-sided Mergansers Mergus squamatus in the shallow water, between sandbars, in an inlet not connected to the river. The birds were not there when he arrived at 16h00 so presumably they landed while Sebastien was scanning the group of waders. Sebastien managed to get some photographs shown here. Because of the distance and poor light, the scaling on anks is not visible in the pictures, but he could spot clearly this feature with the scope. This is only the second Vietnam record of this species. The only previous record was of two males collected on the river at Bac Kan on 18 and 23 December 1926. -------Photos: Sebastien Delonglee


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

Project updates PROJECT UPDATeS


lefantAsia ( “Securing and Increasing Asian Elephant Populations in Laos through the Microchipping of Core Populations.”


he Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund ( is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.

The Lao Elephant Festival 2012 Travelling from far afield many by foot, sixtyfive working elephants and their mahouts (elephant handlers) made the annual pilgrimage to participate in this year’s Lao Elephant Festival held in Sayaboury town. Hosted by Non-governmental Organisation ElefantAsia (a CEPF grantee) in collaboration with the Provincial government, the festival now in its sixth year is bigger than ever with a jam-packed programme designed to entertain and delight some 150,0001 local and international visitors drawn to the event.

Jumbo effort is required by all concerned to prepare Sayaboury for tens of elephants and hordes of visitors. The expected influx into the town is such that food and So revered is the elephant that it commands accommodation for the masses is a concern. its own ‘baci’ ceremony, an honour reserved With the handful of hotels and guest houses Undoubtedly the highlight of the festival is full to capacity, booked weeks in advance, for only a handful of living creatures. the procession, elephants adorned in their locals open their homes to accommodate Buddhist monks draped in saffron recite splendour parade proudly through streets travellers needing a place to rest their weary ancient script requesting all 32 Kwan (or brimming with excited spectators. Sat astride heads. Provision of food is accommodated souls) return to the dusty elephants, this the neck of each elephant is a mahout by local restaurants and makeshift hawker commanding his charge with a set of intricate enchanting ritual and blessing giving a rare stands lining the main street each serving a instructions as old as time, whilst howdahs be- insight into a centuries old relationship range of culinary delights including grilled between man and beast. seat Laotian beauties, their delicacy shaded meats and spicy papaya salad. by ochre parasols. Other attractions during After accommodating 150,000 visitors, Home to approximately 375 working the three day event include the coveted managing food, water and shelter for elephants the majority of Laos’ captive Elephant of the Year competition, this year sixty-five elephants is a piece of cake. won by Phu Thongkhoun, a 46 year old tusker population, Sayaboury province stakes Food for the elephants comes courtesy of from Thongmixay and female Mae Kham Ohn claim to the elephant celebrations each the villagers in the form of locally grown year, but like all major events the Lao 1 Figure provided by Sayaboury Provincial vegetation including a wide selection of Elephant Festival does not organise itself. Tourism Authority aged 43 from Hongsa, as well as elephant treks, elephant ‘baci’ ceremony, traditional Laotian shows and firework display.

CEPF began a $9.5 million five year investment plan in Indochina in July 2008, in partnership with BirdLife International, who provide the Regional Implementation Team ( cepf). As the RIT in Indochina, BirdLife International will: raise awareness of CEPF; solicit grant applications and assist organisations to make applications; review applications; give small grants and jointly make decisions with CEPF on large grants; and monitor and evaluate progress with the investment strategy.


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS bamboo, this wholesome diet adequately supplemented with sweet sticks of fresh sugarcane and generous helping of bananas and juicy watermelons served up at the Giant Elephant Buffet. The Lao Elephant Festival is much more than a long weekend to get down with the pachyderms. With fewer than 30,000 thought to roam naturally in the tropical forests of Asia, the Asian elephant is being pushed to extinction in the wild. The festival is an opportunity to increase awareness of the endangered species and its habitat and other conservation issues in Laos. Materials displayed at the “Biodiversity Hotspot” booth by ElefantAsia, WCS, IUCN, WWF and NTPC during the event allow greater distribution of important conservation messages. Although not officially scheduled on the event’s programme, the festival inadvertently provides an occasion for breeding. With so many Asian elephants in one place at one time, each year many mahouts use of the opportunity to breed their females. This creates potential for future elephant babies in Laos whilst also maintaining genetic diversity with the remaining captive population. The entire Sayaboury community also benefit from the event with income pumped directly into the local rural economy. This year the festival is thought to have generated in excess of US$ 5.5 million2. Money spent on local food, guest houses, home stay, handicraft and marketplace sales all contributing much-needed revenue into one of Laos’ poorest districts. The festival also highlights the province as Laos’ next tourist hotspot. Already offering authentic elephant trekking and Laotian home stay, add to the mix the opening of the newly established Elephant Conservation Center (www., the region really is on its uppers. The Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) launched in 2 Figure provided by Sayaboury Provincial Tourism Authority

association with ElefantAsia boasts the country’s first elephant hospital and breeding programme. ElefantAsia does so much more than organise the Elephant Festival; indeed this event is a small component of ElefantAsia’s activities. Dedicated to the protection and conservation of elephants in Laos, ElefantAsia are the only organisation in Laos solely devoted to care of the remaining captive population. With approximately 470 captive elephants and around 400 wild elephants left in Laos, the future of the Asian elephant in ‘Lane Xang’ or the ‘Land of A Million Elephants’ is uncertain. Interwoven through culture and heritage the Asian elephant has played an important role within Lao history and today is still considered sacred in Lao Buddhism and animism, however both wild and captive populations are in rapid decline and their long term survival is not assured. Already home to ten elephants, including three babies, the ECC is an innovative approach that combines conservation of an endangered species with eco-tourism and is specifically designed to increase reproduction within remaining captive populations. Implementation of a managed breeding programme at the Center works to contribute to the perpetuation of the species in Laos. ElefantAsia also promotes the reconversion of logging elephants into eco-tourism. A dangerous, isolating and unsustainable industry, logging elephants are often injured, overstressed and do not receive the same level of care and attention as their tourism counterparts. Gaining employment in alternative ventures such as eco-tourism provides benefits to both the local mahout communities as well as the natural habitat of the wild elephant. However providing logging continues in Laos, ElefantAsia will aid and assist elephants in need. ElefantAsia’s Mobile Veterinary Unit travels to remote rural areas of Sayaboury providing free veterinary care to captive elephants working in logging camps. These elephants receive access to veterinarians and medications they would otherwise go without --------------By Tracy Brookshaw, Project Manager, ElefantAsia 26

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

experience major alterations as a response to hydropower development, irrigation, and climate change. This paper proposes a landscape approach to understand the impacts of hydrological alteration on the floodplain’s terrestrial vegetation. A land cover map, a digital elevation map and historical water records were used to create histograms of water depth for key vegetation communities. These histograms were niversity of Canterbury ( used to create maps of vegetation coverage probability for cochrane) “River at Risk: Modelling and Monitoring future scenarios of hydrological changes. Selected scenarios the Potential Impacts of Large-Scale Disruptions of water resources development and climate change were to the Hydrological Cycles of the Mekong River Basin on used to demonstrate how vegetation could shift within the Biodiversity and Natural Systems” floodplain. This approach generated satisfactory results for land cover classes that extend over large portions of the Log in to get more “information floodplain such as wet season rice, abandoned fields, flooded on potential flow changes in the Mekong River and its tributaries. Outcomes of on-going research on the expected shrub land and open lake. Download the full paper here. environmental and economic impact of these changes are “Paying the forest for electricity: a modelling framework also presented.” to market forest conservation as payment for ecosystem services benefiting hydropower generation”


Project publications


payments for forest conservation consisting of: (1) land-use change projection; (2) watershed erosion modelling; (3) reservoir sedimentation estimation; (4) power generation loss calculation; and (5) PES scheme design. The framework was applied to a proposed dam in Cambodia (Pursat 1). The estimated net present value of forest conservation was US$ 4.7 million when using average annual climate values over 100 years, or US$ 6.4 million when considering droughts every eight years. This can be remunerated with annual payments of US$ 4.26 ha−1 or US$ 5.78 ha−1, respectively, covering forest protection costs estimated at US$ 0.9 ha−1 yr−1. The application of this type of PES represents a rational option that allows for conservation and development of hydropower watersheds susceptible to erosion and sedimentation. Read full paper here --------Source: Arias, M.E., Cochrane, T.A., Caruso, B., Killeen, T. and Kummu, M. (2011) A landscape approach to assess impacts of hydrological changes to vegetation communities of the Tonle Sap Floodplain. Brisbane, Australia: 34th World Congress of the International Association for HydroEnvironment Engineering and Research (IAHR), Jun 26-Jul 1 2011. (Published in Conference Proceedings) Arias, M.E., Cochrane, T.A., Lawrence, K., Killeen, T.J., Farrell, T.A. (2011) Paying the forest for electricity: A modelling framework to market forest conservation as payment for ecosystem services benefiting hydropower generation. Environmental Conservation, 38(4), pp. 1-12.

The operation and longevity of hydropower dams are often negatively impacted by sedimentation. Forest conservation can reduce soil erosion, and therefore efforts to maintain upstream forest cover within a watershed contribute to the Photo: Mekong river. economic life span of a hydropower facility. The cost of forest The Tonle Sap is South East Asia’s largest lake and Cambodia’s conservation can be viewed as an investment in hydropower most important fishery. The hydrology of the Tonle Sap is and be financed via a payment for ecosystem services (PES) directly linked to water levels of the Mekong River, which will scheme. A novel modelling framework is used to estimate “A landscape approach to assess impacts of hydrological changes to vegetation communities of the Tonle Sap Floodplain.”


The Babbler 41 - May 2012


oyal University of Phnom Penh ( kh) “Community based protection and monitoring of threatened bird biodiversity in Sekong River IBA (Koh Thbeng island and surrounding area)” Status of threatened bird biodiversity in Sekong River IBA, Stung Treng, Cambodia Sekong River IBA is rich in biodiversity and contains threatened bird biodiversity, especially River tern, River lapwing, Great thicknee and Mekong wagtail. These species are under threat due to habitat loss caused by the rapid conversion of forestland for agribusiness and rubber plantation together with population growth and immigration. Hence, the Royal University of Phnom Penh represented by Department of Environmental Science has made a concerted effort to conserve these species by working closely with local community in Siem Pang district of Stung Treng Province, with funding support of CEPF through BirdLife. With regard to the status of these targeted species of our conservation concern, we carried out biological survey in Sekong River IBA from Koh Tbeng Island (UTM 06344761527633) to Koh Chan Taban Island (UTM 0644810-1593678) close to Cambodian-Laotian border in late May 2011. The survey is part of project on “Empowerment and capacity building of local community in protection and conservation of Sekong River IBA through application of locally based monitoring methods” in order construct the baseline data to compare the success of bird nest protection carried by community. In addition to bird data, several main threat factors impact on sandbar birds’ population and their nests roosting. We also discovered appropriate methodology and perception of local communities in order to establish conservation groups for sandbar bird nests.


The biological survey recorded 89 River Lapwings, 5 Great Thick knees, and 3 River Terns through count method from Koh Tbeng to Cambodian-Laotian border. Further, species outside our conservation target were also recorded such as 14 Oriental Darters, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Stork-billed Kingfishers, 36 Lesser-whistling Ducks, and 1 Indian Cormorant. In addition to water birds, the survey recorded vulnerable forest bird species such as 6 Green Peafowls, of which 5 were observed at Koh Dat Thom (UTM 0644680-1582404), and one at Koh Tbeng island, the lower section of Sekong River IBA. The biological survey also mapped the significant islands with favourable sandbar and rocky habitats hosting the target species that need an immediate protection. These islands include Koh Chantaban, Koh Dat Thom, Koh Dat Touch, Koh Tonsay, Koh Chhung Heang, Koh Kampha, Koh Houlaman, Koh Kbal Khmouch, and Koh Tbeng. Moreover, the islands surveyed encompass relatively distinct natural habitat types with one another. Some are characterised with rocky habitat and others with more sandbar and stones covering with shrub and short grasses. The major human-induced threat towards the Sekong River IBA simply includes conversion of forestland to agricultural purposes, hunting by using poison, collecting eggs for food, camping by seasonal fishers, cattle raising, and natural predation. A typical rocky habitat on Island in Sekong River Cutting of trees and clearance of land for agriculture occurs along both banks of the Sekong River, particularly along the lower sections and around significant islands of sandbar bird breeding. During the dry season, the temporary fishing camps that are established at sections of channel mosaic habitat are a reticular cause for concern, as they represent a source of disturbance to sandbar bird population and their seasonal breeding. Also, many of fishers bring hunting dogs to catch wild animals and the dogs have caused big

River tern. Photo: Jonathan C. Eames

disturbance to breeding nests on the islands. Cows and buffalos are raised on islands and can step on the nests by chance. Because of finance and time constraints, we have selected six islands (Koh Dat Thom, Koh Dat Touch, Koh Tonsay, Koh Chhung Heang, Koh Kampha, and Koh Houlaman) for strict protection by working closely community in Nhang Sum village that is a key actor of this initiative. The community has used two models for bird nest protection: patrol and permanent guard of active nests --------Source: Seak Sophat, Royal University of Phnom Penh


The Babbler 41 - May 2012



enter for Water Resources Conservation and Development -WARECOD ( vn) “Strengthening Communities’ Resilience to the Potential Risks from Proposed Dams on the Mekong Mainstream“

Development in Vietnam, was established by the cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and Communication and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. A film entitled “The disappearance of flooding season” was first on air on October 12th, 2011. Moreover, 200 copies were produced and delivered to Vietnam River Network’s (VRN) partners and interested members. The film is used in introduction part of every VRN’s activities. Roughly Field trip for journalists to record changes of rivers and challenges from mainstream dams development it is estimated 45,000 people have viewed this documentary film and WARECOD are attempting to The first field trip was organised from 29th September deliver it to more and more people. Watch the film with English subtitle on Youtube Part 1, Part 2 and to 2nd October 2011 with the active participation of Part 3. 11 journalists and environmental experts from Can Tho University. The tour started in Can Tho City, then Workshop on impacts of dams to the lives and to Dong Thap Province where Tram Chim National livelihoods of local communities in the Mekong Park is located, heading to An Giang that is famous Delta for aquatic resources and ended in Can Tho. The journalists discussed and interviewed local residents On two days of 26 and 27 November 2011, a on the changes in water resources in the areas as workshop was organised in Can Tho University to well as adjustment in their working style (such as discuss about the impacts of dams to the lives and making dykes). A lot of questions were made on livelihoods of local communities in the Mekong how livelihoods of local people have been affected Delta. Forty nine people from ten provinces locating following the alteration of flows and flow timing of in Mekong Delta (one Farmers Association leader Mekong river; flooding season in the Mekong delta and potential impacts of Mekong mainstream dams. and five excellent farmers from each province) have After the field trip, 11 journalists have written a series been present at the event. Participants shared the information of the impacts of proposed hydropower of articles and have them published on different projects on Mekong mainstreams to the food and newspapers (see here in Vietnamese language only) energy security, adaption experiences by farmers and identify follow-up activities. Details of the workshop A film on Mekong river and its connection with can be found here in English and Vietnamese people living in the Mekong Delta ---------A group of reporters from Vietnam Television Channel Source: Center for Water Resources Conservation and 16 (VTC16) also joined the above field trip and Development -WARECOD recorded inputs for the film. VTC16, which is the first professional channel on Agriculture and Rural

Millions VND have been invested in strengthening the dykes but rice fields are still flooded. Photo: Huynh Kim (The Saigon Times)

Rice fields in flooding season. Photo: Sau Nghe (Pioneer newspaper)


The Babbler 41 - May 2012


CEPF grantees visit Sarus Crane conservation areas in Vietnam


fter a visit to Kampong Trach Sarus Crane Reserve in Cambodia (March 2011), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) organised another study tour in March 2012 to Phu My proposed Sarus Crane conservation project (Kien Giang Province), Tra Su Provincial Reserve (An Giang Province) and Tram Chim National Park (Dong Thap Province) in Vietnam for representatives from Cambodian Forestry Administration, Kampong Trach Local Conservation Groups, Cambodian Institute for Research and Rural Development (CIRD) and BirdLife International Cambodia Progamme. The goal of the trip was to provide a chance for project staff and local conservation groups to share experiences about site management issues particularly hydrology control methods in Tram Chim National Park.

A canal was built surrounding the shrimp farm in order to control the water and to support transportation. Water in the canal is seriously polluted. Photo: Bou Vorsak

On the first day visiting Phu My, 85 Sarus Cranes were recorded and what surprised the group was the presence of a private

shrimp farm covering an area of 2,000 ha next to the Sarus Crane conservation area.

Lepironia mats to the ICF project and about 10 local people were recruited to work in handicraft design shops.

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) has worked to designate 1,000 ha in Phu My to become a provincial Sarus Crane Reserve, and it was supposed to complete this process in 2010 but so far, the designation is not yet finalised due to conflicts between local communities and private sector. In order to encourage the local people to participate in Sarus Crane conservation project, since 2004, ICF have invested roughly In a store of Lepironia finished products. US$500,000 to set up handicraft workshops Photo: Bou Vorsak to produce Lepironia mats (the main food of Sarus Crane), the first completed product woven by local communities, and to make at During the next days’ trip to Tra Su Provincial least 50 other handicraft products. To date Reserve, which was officially established in 2005 after 10 years of forest restoration, there are 447 local households selling their the group learned about the Reserves water management system and the issue of invasive Melaleuca spreading. To prevent forest fires in the dry season and land erosion, Tra Su management board has built the embankment system around the reserve and built two sluice gates to control water flow.

98% local people living in Phu My are Khmer. One lady is weaving a mat to sell to the Phu My grassland conservation project and to local people in Cambodia. Photo: Bou Vorsak

Bird watching eco-tourism in Tra Su can provide a model for Boeung Preak Lapouv or A tower was Kampong Trach in Cambodia. built in the middle of wetlands and from there, visitors can see the whole reserve, birds roosting and nesting. In nesting areas,

Using small paddle boats in core areas is environment friendly and creates more income for local communities. Photo: Bou Vorsak

boats with engines are forbidden and tourists move by small paddle boats provided by local residents. Tram Chim National Park (TCNP) was the final destination of the tour. The park is located in Tam Nong District, Dong Thap Province in an area of over 19,000 ha, of which 7,313 ha is core area and the rest of 12,000 ha are buffer zones. The Park is designed to preserve the Melaleuca forests and its ecosystem. Lesson learns from the Park’s water management is considered a priority purpose of this study trip. Similar to Tra Su, Tram Chim started building the embankment on its border in 2002 with estimated cost of US $ 2 million. The 66 kilometres long embankment is high and strong enough for local residents to use as a road. There are six water sluice gates to control water flow. Representatives from 30

The Babbler 41 - May 2012


CEPF grantees visit....(continued)

In Tram Chim Melaleuca has covered about 50% the core area of Tram Chim and Eleocharis is seen in only 800 hectares. Without effective solution, Melaleuca might spread to all open wetland areas. Photo: Bou Vorsak

the Park shared lessons on Melaleuca and lotus plantation and control, Sarus Crane habitat monitoring, law enforcement and enhancement of communities’ participation and eco-tourism development. In the buffer area, there are six local communities with at least 50,000 people, 10-15% of which are considered poor people. To ensure the participation from local communities in conserving the natural resources, the Park implements a pilot project called “Sustainable use of natural resources with communities’ participation.” The Park provides the quota for poor families from six communes to collect wetland vegetation, firewood and fishing inside the core area. Forty to 50 reserve permits (valid for one year) have been

produced and provided to each community. The community management committee is responsible to choose 40-50 poor families to circulate the cards. Each community is allowed to collect natural resources in an area of 150 ha which are adjacent to the community. The local people have to show their permits to the rangers in each substation before entering to collect natural resources and when they exit, collected products are checked by the rangers again. Criteria for sustainable use of natural resources are also developed as the results of consultation between the Park and local communities. In the last quarter of 2011, TCNP was acknowledged as the fourth Ramsar site of Vietnam and since then, more tourists have come to visit this park. Before 2010, around 1,000 tourists came annually and in 2010, the number increased to 5,000, and 6,000 in

More birds have come here after the Park removed the inner dyke and adjusted the water level. Photo: Bou Vorsak

2011 and in the first quarter of 2012 nearly 6,000 visitors have been recorded. With the continuous growth of tourists, the Park concern about over capacity and requested assistance from WWF to develop a long term tourism management plan.

This model of tourist boat can be introduced to Kampong Trach and Beoung Peak Lapouv in the near future. Photo: Bou Vorsak

More recommendations and follow up actions are proposed to Mlup Baitong, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust , Cambodian Institute for Research and Rural Development who are all linked in Sarus Crane

conservation projects in Cambodia. For further details of the trip, please read full report here written by Bou Vorsak, Manager of BirdLife International, Cambodia Programme -------------Source: Bou Vorsak, BirdLife International Cambodia Programme


The Babbler 41 - May 2012


ildlife Conservation Society ( ‘Conserving A Suite of Cambodia’s Highly Threatened Bird Species’

Owing to CEPF support, vital conservation interventions aimed at conserving a suite of Cambodia’s most threatened bird species continued throughout 2011. The rapid expansion of the waterbird colonies at Prek Toal Core Area on Tonle Sap Lake is perhaps the greatest conservation success story in South-east Asia. MIST monitoring was conducted throughout the period, and data collected from tree top observation platforms indicate that the number of nests of threatened species continues to grow. At Tmatboey and Prey Veng in Kulen Promtip Wildlife Sanctuary the Ibis Rice, WCS’s trademark Wildlife-friendly rice, scheme continued to expand. Rice totalling 120,256 kg was purchased from farmers in five villages, with more farmers keen to join the scheme in the 2012 season. The Sam Veasna Centre expanded its eco-tourism activities to Prey Veng, and following training of guides and service providers has begun to bring bird-watchers to this exciting new destination. White-winged Duck and Giant Ibis are regularly seen at this site, along with a slew of typical dry dipterocarp forest birds, there have even been sightings of the enigmatic Masked Finfoot. The site also boasts a beautiful Angkorian era temple that is slowly melting into the forest. At Ang Trapeang Thmor Sarus Crane Reserve a Community Management Committee was formed at Sambour village.


Following a successful model piloted at the Bengal Florican Conservation Areas, the Community Management Committee acts as the intermediary body between WCS, relevant government staff and community members. Members of the CMC meet with Forestry Administration and WCS staff monthly to organise patrol activities, report on monitoring results and discuss any issues arising, including community concerns. Owing to an increase in the number of bird-watching tourists being brought to ATT by the Sam Veasna Centre, an opportunity was presented for local community members to earn an income as local guides. Training was provided by the SVC to selected community members, and a local guide now accompanies all bird-watchers visiting ATT. In the Bengal Florican Conservation Areas the Wildlifefriendly rice scheme, pioneered in Tmatboey where it benefits White-shouldered and Giant Ibis, was introduced to ten farmers. Nine farmers abided by the rules of the scheme and a total of 3,012 kg of rice was procured from them. The average revenue per family was 11% higher than the price offered by middlemen. Wildlife-friendly rice is now on sale at more than 30 shops and restaurants, and also benefits the Bengal Florican through encouraging traditional forms of rice cultivation that are compatible with conservation in the BFCAs. As in Ang Trapeang Thmor, the SVC trained local guides so that they could earn an additional income by showing Bengal Floricans to visiting bird-watchers ----------Source: Simon Mahood, Technical Advisor of Tonle Sap and Vulture projects, WCS Cambodia Top photo: A male Bengal Florican (in the red circle) at Ang Trapeang Thmor Bottom photo: part of the joint patrolling checking on land use in Chikraeng Bengal Florican Conservation Area. Author: Simon Mahood


The Babbler 41 - May 2012



onservation International ( (the Tonle Sap, Cardamom Mountains and coastal areas) “Reducing Exploitation Of Trade-Threatened Mammals have been implemented to educate local people about in Their Cambodian Strongholds” these species and reduce pressures on them. Surveys have been carried out to learn more about their populations in The CEPF has committed three years of support for this Cambodia, and this information is used to summarise their Conservation Internationals key work to reduce the pressures status and define priority areas for their conservation and on Cambodia’s threatened mammals. The focus of this to develop adaptive management plans for the relevant project is on the conservation of bears, otters, fishing cats protected area with a focus on maintaining these species. and the pangolin. The greatest threats to these species are over-hunting, habitat loss and the depletion of food Otters sources. Despite the current protection laws they are Cambodia is home to three otter species, the Hairy-nosed still highly threatened due to weak law enforcement and otter, the Smooth-coated otter and Small-clawed otter. Some poor understanding of these laws by local people. Already of their greatest threat is the high market demand for their awareness and education training within priority sites skins for clothing and ornamental purposes and the use of otter parts for traditional medicine. There is global concern for these otters with the hairy-nosed otter listed as endangered, the smoothcoated otter and small-clawed otter listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Recently the first camera trap photograph of the hairy-nosed otter was taken on the coast of Cambodia. This is the first hard evidence that proves this species to inhabit this habitat after many past surveys.

Hairy-nosed otter captured by camera trap in lagoon Koh Kong Khnong village, Koh Kong province. Photo: CI

Education awareness courses about otters and biodiversity have been conducted with local residents, including young students to demonstrate the importance of otters and their environment and to encourage

Four pangolins confiscated at checkpoint in Pursat province, the pangolins were hidden inside the bumper of the car. Photo: CI

them to support the conservation project. Also otter identification guide books have been produced to be used by rangers and local people throughout the country to accurately identify the different species, inform about the relevant laws and ensure wildlife crimes are minimized and reported.

Pangolins The pangolins project is focused on releasing captured and confiscated pangolins back to the wild. Due to the lack of information about the survivorship of the releasing pangolins, some released pangolins are fitted with radio transmitters so that the behavioral ecology can be studied and the releasing method can be improved. In the first four months of 2012 there have been two arrests due to pangolin trade. One of these arrests involved the smuggling of the animal inside the bonnet of the car– a very cruel method of hiding the animals, as it gets extremely hot and the animals are fitted into a very tight place. Of the animals rescued from this illegal activity, one died due to the rough transportation and three have been taken to the government-managed Phnom Tamao Rescue Centre to 33

The Babbler 41 - May 2012


recover at the new facility supported by CI. Once these individuals have recovered they will be released back to the wild and monitored using radio transmitters.

Bears Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF) is known to still contain relatively good populations of two species of bears; the Malayan sun bear and the Asiatic black bear, however, these population are under threat from illegal hunting. To assess trends in the populations that can be used for adaptive management, monitoring of the populations is being undertaken. As a follow-up on preliminary baseline surveys, bear monitoring has been implemented in CCPF since 2010. Currently the focus of this project is on reviewing existing wildlife monitoring protocols and methods, and adapting these to ensure the most informative data is being collected, and that this feed into adaptive management and has strong linkages to conservation agreements. Awareness raising at School in Koh Kong province. Photo: CI

Local researchers from dierent communes who have been trained for this project are carrying out annual bear sign surveys. Through transects they monitor the presence and relative abundance of bears through bear sign, counting, measuring and aging scratch marks on trees. Cambodia still holds large tracts of natural habitat, which provide unique opportunities to ensure viable populations of several species of wildlife which are severely threatened throughout their ranges. Through this project CI is focusing on providing knowledge and support to ensure that these species are eectively being protected ----------Source: Sokrith Heng, Conservation International

Bear monitoring survey after training. Photo: CI


The Babbler 41 - May 2012


eople Resources and Conservation Foundation (www. Participatory three-dimensional mapping of land use within the Lam Binh Forest Area.


Land-use mapping can help deter or minimize disturbance to langurs by local people’s daily agricultural chores. Mapping can also help identify suitable locations for conservation activities, such as tree planting and grazing management, along the edges of the langur’s habitat. These add another layer of protection for the species.

In December 2011, PRCF Vietnam led a three-dimensional mapping project in the Lam Binh Forest area, northeastern Vietnam, with 30 local people from seven villages. Participants also included authorities from the Khuon Ha and The mapping project increased participants’ ownership of Francois’ Langur conservation in their local area. They Thuong Lam communes and the district Forest Protection themselves helped decide how to protect langurs from Department. agricultural expansion and unwanted disturbance. They also located where they had seen langur groups and their habitat, Training workshops during the eight-day mapping activity revealing that up to 10 groups of langurs possibly live within included how to: the Lam Binh Forest area. • read topographic maps • define habitat zones for the Francois’ Langur The completed 3D map is prominently displayed in a • create 3D maps for the Lam Binh Forest area commune’s cultural hall. It shows agreed protection and • collect information ‘on location’ and conduct groundnon-disturbance areas and acts as a reminder to the wider truthing. community of the need to conserve the Francois’ Langur. The participants’ energy and Future community conservation projects will use the map for awareness-raising and environmental education. enthusiasm – and the high standard of their very first 3D map – are shown in the Conservation agreements accompanying photos. PRCF Vietnam also prepared copies of voluntary ‘no hunting’

Why land-use mapping?

3D mapping project underway. Photo: Thach Mai Hoang/PRCF.

agreements for participants to sign if they felt strongly enough about conserving the species. The agreement included information about the Francois’ Langur species, its legal status in Vietnam and reasons for its conservation.

The endangered Francois’ Langur (Trachypithecus francoisi) live among limestone karst outcrops in Participants could agree that they: the Lam Binh Forest area, • would not participate in activities that threaten the right next to agricultural survival of the animal lands. It is therefore • would participate in a network of key informants to important to make sure that report on the presence of Francois’ Langur. land-use is compatible with conservation of the langur’s Twenty-four local participants signed the agreement critical habitat. an encouraging outcome. Although it is non-binding,

Participants with their completed 3D map and certificates of appreciation. Photo: Thach Mai Hoang/PRCF.

the agreement is a key step toward engaging the local community in conservation activities.

What’s next? Future projects will include biodiversity conservation awareness-raising activities with the local Youth Union and secondary schools. PRCF will also use voluntary conservation agreements to help encourage local restaurants not to purchase or sell wildlife. These projects will promote biodiversity conservation in general – with a special focus on the Francois’ Langur ----------Source: Brenda Mattick, Communications officer, PRCF (VIDA volunteer).


The Babbler 41 - May 2012



PRCF protected a solitary nest with three fledglings in the By placing a value on safeguarding the White-eared Night buffer zone of the South Xuan Lac Species and Habitat Heron, the nest protection program raises awareness of alternatives to hunting and the importance of conserving the Conservation Area. heron’s critical habitat. ‘Lessons learnt from the 2011 nesting seasons helped us In 2012, during the program’s second season, PRCF Vietnam’s extend the geographical coverage of the forests in Bac Kan The White-eared Night Heron (Gorsachius magnificus) is and Tuyen Quang provinces, engage greater numbers of field surveys have led to the discovery of nine White-eared a globally endangered and geographically restricted bird species found only in a small area of southern China and Night Herons and four nests in the buffer zones of the South people from local communities in searching for nests – and spread the conservation message’, said Michael Dine, PRCF Xuan Lac Species and Habitat Conservation Area and Na northeastern Vietnam. It has a very small, fragmented Chief Technical Officer. ‘The 2012 season looks promising Hang Nature Reserve. All four nests are now included in population threatened by hunting and forest clearance. with four PRCF’s nest protection program. nests under PRCF Vietnam is working to help prevent the species’ What’s inside the nest protector kits? protection. extinction with an innovative nest protection program – the How the nest protection program works Hopefully with first of its kind in Vietnam. Based in the limestone forests The mechanics of the program are simple. Local people are • hammock help from local of Tuyen Quang and Bac Kan provinces, this collaborative encouraged to find and report nests; upon verification they • t-shirt communities program involves community members, local communes, the are paid a nest finders’ fee. The nest finders are offered the • binoculars we will be district Forest Protection Department and Special-use Forest opportunity to join the program as a nest protector. • raincoat successful in Management Boards. • hat fledging two or Nest protectors are trained to protect and monitor nests. • name badge three birds from In return for this service, they receive a nest protection • paper and pencils payment that covers the time between nest construction and each of these • cloth bag nests’. chick fledging. They also receive a bonus fledging payment • plastic stool. once the birds leave or ‘fledge’ from the nest. Local people have been Members of nest monitoring teams visit and interview nest enthusiastic participants in the nest protection program. protectors each week at their respective nest sites. The They are now much more aware of the importance of program also includes end-of-season debriefing interviews biodiversity conservation, particularly of the White-eared with nest protection teams. Night Heron. Training activities use visual materials supported by PRCF Vietnam will continue its conservation and publicparticipatory scenarios to help protectors safeguard the awareness programs to prevent hunting and habitat nests effectively. Participants learn about the bird’s biology, destruction, help new birds breed – and hopefully halt the ecology and behavior. They also learn how to record data in species’ decline the field, use the nest protector kits – and handle incidents ----------that may threaten the species. This White-eared Night Heron’s nest is now under PRCF’s Source: Brenda Mattick, Communications officer, PRCF (VIDA nest protection program. Photo: Tran Thanh Tu/ PRCF volunteer). During 2011, the first year of the nest protection program, eople Resources and Conservation Foundation ( Strengthening community conservation of priority sites within the Ba Be / Na Hang Limestone Forest Complex, northern Vietnam


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

Project updates

What’s going on at Xayaburi?



enter for People and Nature Reconciliation _ PanNature ( “Raising Concerns – Reducing Impacts: Providing Inputs to Local Development Policies Related to Biodiversity and Natural Resources through Engaging the Media” and “Securing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Vietnam Through Analyzing Development Policies and Promoting Good Governance of Natural Resources”

In eight days from 22 to 29 October 2011, the Center of People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) took a site visit to Vientiane and Xayaburi dam site. The trip goals had been set as i) exploring the perspectives of non-government and scientific organisations operating in Laos towards the construction of Xayaburi dam; ii) inspecting the current status at the dam construction site and looking for cooperation opportunity with NGOs in Laos on natural resources management and hydropower plants development on Mekong mainstream. The working team worked with six organisations in Laos including Lao Biodiversity Association (LBA), Lao National University (LNU), Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Helvetas. Read full report of the site visit here (in Vietnamese). Below are some photos from Xayaburi dam site. Read full article in Vietnamese language here ----------News and photo source: PanNature


1 4

(1) A nearly 10 km long road had been built leading from the center of Xayaburi district to the hydro-power plant construction site (2) A long queue of truck when getting closer to Talan village. (3) A checking-point in Talan village stops all strangers. (4) A giant construction site is being formed along Melong river. (5) Is Xayaburi dam under construction?



The Babbler 41 - May 2012


he First Mekong Resources Forum - Water Resources and Sustainable Development – Perspectives from Laos and Vietnam Considering the development of Mekong mainstream dams, especially the MRC Council Meeting in December 2011, PanNature discussed with different partners in Vietnam and Lao about organising an event to feature water resource management and related issues. After the trip to Laos in October 2011, PanNature decided to carry out a workshop between Laos and Vietnamese organisations on water issues in general, with focus on hydropower development issues in both countries. The two day workshop, organised on 1-2 December 2011, is part of the Mekong Resources Forum, a new initiative recently developed by PanNature that aims at facilitating meaningful dialogues on resource governance and its associated issues among regional scientific and civil society organisations in the Greater Mekong Subregion. This non-state platform will include a wide variety of dialogues, exchanges and cooperation activities built upon mutual interests and power of knowledge for bettering natural resource governance in the region. The workshop programmed for one day

Project updates

of in-door presentations and discussions and another day for field trip to visit Hoa Binh Hydropower Plant. The presentations featured updated information about policies and practices related to water resources utilisation and management, river basin planning, aquatic biodiversity as well as social and environmental impacts of hydropower and other development forms to inland and transboundary rivers of Laos and Vietnam. � The field trip to Hoa Binh province included a visit to Hoa Binh Hydropower Plant and meeting with a downstream community at Yen Mong commune. The event attracted participation of 70 representatives from Lao and Vietnam. Participants agreed that there should be more open dialogues among different stakeholders in the Mekong region to share common concerns, understanding, and cooperation for better governance of natural resources for peaceful and sustainable development in the region. PanNature is seeking financial support over the long term to organise the forum as an annual event.

First Mekong Resources Forum (PanNature)

Partnership Fund (CEPF), the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF, through funding from the Australian Government), and the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN).

Training workshop on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Detailed report and workshop materials have Forest Degradation (REDD/REDD+) and sustainable forest management in been published online in English language here. Vietnam This workshop was cosponsored by International Rivers, Critical Ecosystems

on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD/REDD+) and sustainable forest management in Vietnam. Forty representatives from 23 local community-based organizations, NGOs, universities and research institutions attended the event.

Guest speakers were most knowledgeable experts in the field, including Dr. To Xuan Phuc of Forest Trends, Dr. Nguyen Manh Cuong of Vietnam National REDD Office, and Dr. Nguyen Quang Tan of The Center for In two days of 4 and 5 November 2011, PanNature has organised a training workshop People and Forests (RECOFTC). 38

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

PanNature has targeted to help the participants to have better awareness and knowledge of basic concept of REDD/REDD+ initiative and its mechanism; its role in management, projection and sustainable development of forests in Vietnam in climate change situation; having active discussions on rising issues and special interest towards institution and implementation of REDD/REDD+ in Vietnam. After this workshop, PanNature will cooperate with participants and organisations to carry out research, information exchange and strengthen capacity as well as policy relating to REDD/REDD+ application in Vietnam. Read the workshop report here (in Vietnamese).

Journalist workshop titled “Behind the Mekong Dams” organised in Ho Chi Minh City Prior to the training workshop, a journalist workshop titled “Behind the Mekong Dams” was organised in Ho Chi Minh City on October 2, 2011 with the participation of 30 representatives from more than 20 printing media and television channel in southern Vietnam and 20 other people from research institutions, NGOs, and business sectors (dam financiers). The workshop program and materials were published on PanNature’s web site at http://nature. The workshop was organised in Ho Chi Minh City (instead of Hanoi as planned) under the then urgent need of raising the Mekong hydropower issue (especially the Xayaburi project). It was a good


opportunity to gather prominent policy analysts and researchers from Vietnam, Mekong region, and international community to provide multifaceted coverage of Mekong dam issues. PanNature invited guest speakers from Mekong River Commission, the Institute of World’s Economics and Politics (Vietnam), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), and Earthrights International. Two speakers from the Stimson Center (US) and The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Australia) to give presentations through video teleconference.

1 Policy Responses to a Changing Climate and Uncertain World

3 Forest Governance




Mineral resources governance Environmental Management and Pollution Control


Other Development Policies


20 List of Legal Documents in Quarter IV/2011

Climate Change



Natural Resources


Sustainable Development

Media brief on Mekong In October 2011, PanNature also circulated a media brief titled “Mekong Hydropower: Who wins? Who loses?” to more than 200 journalists, scientists and government officials participating the two workshops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city in October 2011. Download the brief here.

Policy Review Quarter III/2011


olicy Responses to a Changing Climate and Uncertain World Photo: PanNature

During the last quarter of 2011, many important events and policies related to environmental protection, climate change, and efficient use of natural resources were discussed and decided. At the global level, one of the most significant events is the 17th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-17), which was taking place from November 28th to December 11th, 2011 in Durban, South Africa. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, the Government has promulgated important strategies for combating climate change and governing mineral resources. In December 2011, the Mekong River Commission Council Members, comprising Natural Resources and Environment ministers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam,

held a meeting in Siem Riep (Cambodia). Regional leaders shared concerns about the Xayaburi hydropower project in Lao PDR and stressed the need for further study on impacts of hydropower development in the mainstream, looking towards the sustainable development and management of the Mekong River as expected by the people living in the basin.

Acronyms Inside MARD: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development MONRE: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment NA: National Assembly PM: Prime Minister


Lately in February 2012, PanNature released its fourth issue of Vietnam Policy Review for quarter 4/2011. Download the newsletter here (Vietnamese) or here (English) -----------Source: Center for People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature)


The Babbler 41 - May 2012


Bear Bile Survey of Traditional Chinese Medicine Shops in Hanoi


n December 2011 four members of the ENV Wildlife Crime Unit (WCU) conducted a survey of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shops in Hanoi to determine the availability of bear bile and evaluate the attitudes of TCM practitioners in relation to its use. The target area was Lan Ong street, in Hoan Kiem district. This street is appropriately named after a known TCM physician from the past, and is now the centre for TCM commercial activity in Hanoi. In total, 39 TCM shops were surveyed, 36 of which were on Lan Ong street. Surveys of the other three shops were conducted as practice runs prior to the Lan Ong survey, to ensure that the survey methods would yield results before surveying the target area. Two of the practice runs were on Hang Can Street, and the last one was conducted on Tay Son Street. All three practice runs were conducted in exactly the same manner as the main body of the survey, and therefore were included in the analysis The survey team posed as prospective customers requesting something to treat muscle and joint pain in order to see if bear bile was recommended or sold. Initially during the conversation with TCM shop subjects, bear bile was not mentioned in order to ascertain if bear bile would be recommended. However, if there was no mention of bear bile as the discussion progressed, survey staff would note to the interview subject that they had heard about bear bile, in order to solicit a response specific to the issue. Of the 39 shops surveyed, practitioners at 72% (n=28) of

the shops both recommended and sold bear bile. However, 41% (n=16) stated that other medicines were superior to bear bile, and 82% (n=32) recommended an alternative. The alternatives were always a premixed, wrapped bundle of various ingredients produced by the shop’s TCM practitioner, and thus it would make sense that practitioners recommend their own remedies in order to secure sales and promote specialization as bear bile was widely available in most shops. Nine of the shops surveyed did not sell bear bile and none of the 28 shops that did sell bear bile advertised bear bile either inside or outside of the shop, and none of the shops had bear bile products on display. During the survey, bear bile was available in two different forms; powdered form, and liquid bile. Liquid bear bile was more common with 62% (n=24) of all the shops surveyed selling it, whereas only 10% (n=4) of the shops sold “powdered gall bladder”. None of the shops sold both powdered and liquid form. Powdered gallbladder was considerably more expensive with prices ranging from VND 140,000/g to VND 1,125,000/g. In contrast, the average price of liquid bear bile was VND 73,958/cc with prices ranging from VND 40,000/cc to VND 250,000/cc. One shop sold small pieces of dried gallbladder for considerably cheaper price, VND 140,000/g, leading the survey team to suspect that the product may not be genuine. Three of the four shops that sold powdered gall bladder, sold it increments known as “đồng cân”, or what is referred to as a “TCM gram”. During a subsequent interview with

Ms. Tran Thi Hong Ngai, a practicing doctor at Hanoi TCM hospital. Specialist in bone disease, she informed staff that bear gallbladder sells in increments of 3.75g. It is sensible to take the “đồng cân” into account during any subsequent research where to ensure that accurate units are assessed when prices are quoted in weights. ENV’s bear bile survey was carried out in partnership with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the Freeland Foundation. The survey is the first in a series of investigations focused on Traditional Medicine trade in Vietnam --------Source: Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV)


ducation for NatureVietnam - ENV (www.envietnam. org) “Strengthening Public Participation in Tackling the Wildlife Trade in Vietnam”

MARCH 2012

!"#$%&'()*+(,-).%+%/"01*+#"(+)#*+02+'%+-10) Over the past year there have been a number  of cases in which provincial authorities have  sought to dispose of tigers, ivory, and other fully  protected wildlife (seized from illegal trade) in  a manner that is potentially illegal, and almost  certainly does not represent the interests of the  law intended to protect these species. For the record, when frozen tigers and tiger  skeletons are seized from illegal trade, they  should be either destroyed or turned over to  a legitimate institution such as the Museum of  Natural History in Hanoi. They may not be used  to make tiger bone glue, sold or auctioned off to  raise state funds. On May 16, 2007 the Former Deputy  Prime Ministry Nguyen Sinh Hung issued 

ENV has released the March 2012 issue of Wildlife Crime Bulletin. Download the newsletter

Photo: Ninh Binh Forest Protection Department

correspondence 611/TTg­NN asking that  provinces and Police, Customs, Forest Ranger,  and Market Management authorities turn  evidence over to the Natural History Museum.  Many provinces have complied with this  correspondence.  However, some have not, and 

Are they promoting illegal trade by their actions  or working hard with others to put a stop to illegal  activities?  

recent cases in Thanh Hoa, Ninh Binh, Quang 

In Ha Tinh, the People’s Committee issued a 

Ninh and Quang Tri are of particular concern, 

correspondence instructing functional agencies 

as the tigers involved either remain where they 



History Museum in Hanoi. This represents a 

department, have disappeared, or have been 

responsible course of action that should be 

turned into tiger bone glue.  

followed by other provincial leaders, so that their 

The issue of disposal, or what to do with  *,&3+*!/#'$/()#"+$(+$!&$(++4#$/0!/$"#5#*/+$0,6$

departments have clear guidelines and can no  longer take advantage of ambiguity in the law.  

provincial authorities perceive their role in 


protecting endangered wildlife. 

and tiger parts, also applies to other fully protected 

here. News from the Frontline issue 1 February 2012: A brief summary of the activities of ENV. Download it here


The Babbler 41 - May 2012


Corporate Alliance for Wildlife Protection: A joint force to end the illegal trade of wildlife in Vietnam


ENV initiated the new program in 2011, enlisting the support of a growing number of companies located in Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City to help raise awareness amongst their employees of the need to “get involved” in efforts to protect wildlife.

davisoni reveals roost-site mismatch with Cambodia’s protected areas


anoi, Vietnam, March 7, 2012 – In this week, ENV officially announced the formation of the Corporate Alliance for Wildlife Protection, comprising a group of almost 30 companies located throughout Vietnam that are working with ENV to help protect wildlife. Each day, hundreds, if not thousands of wild animals are taken from their natural habitat and sold to meet the rising demand of Vietnamese consumers for exotic foods and traditional medicines made from wildlife.

First census of the white-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis

to Vietnam’s wildlife from illegal trade, and enables partnerships on specific activities, such as public awareness events or production of public service announcements promoting wildlife protection on television. ENV’s Corporate Alliance for Wildlife Protection partners includes Canon Vietnam, Unilever Vietnam, Colliers International Vietnam, Standard Charter Bank and Sofitel Plaza Hotel amongst others. ENV has the ambitious goal of enlisting more than 90 Corporate Alliance members by the end of 2012

Under this new initiative, ENV places exhibit boards at company offices urging employees not to keep wildlife or consume products made from ---------wildlife, and to report wildlife crimes Photo and new source: ENV to authorities or to ENV through their national toll free hotline 18001522. Employees are also encouraged to volunteer for the ENV Wildlife Protection Network. ENV offers seminars for employees on the threats

he population size of the Critically Endangered white-shouldered ibis has always been poorly known. The first-ever census across Cambodia in 2009–2010 using simultaneous counts at multiple roost sites found substantially more birds than previously estimated, with a minimum of 523 individuals. The census allowed us to make a revised global population estimate of 731–856 individuals, increasing hope for the species’ long-term survival. However, the largest sub populations are imminently threatened by development


he Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT - is a local not for prof it organisation which aims to lift communities out of poverty in support of conservation through participatory communitybased approaches.

and c. 75% of the birds counted in Cambodia were outside protected areas. Read full short communication here ------------Source: Hugh L. Wright, Nigel J. Collar, Iain R. Lake, Net Norin, Rours Vann, Sok Ko, Sum Phearun and Paul M. Dolman First census of the white-shouldered ibis Pseudibis davisoni reveals roost-site mismatch with Cambodia’s protected areas. Oryx, Available on CJO doi:10.1017/ S0030605311001165

Ramsar Site in Stung Treng, Cambodia’ (April 2011 - March 2013). Read further details of what CRDT have done in 2011 in their annual report here. --------Source: Cambodian Rural Development Team

Founded in 2001 as a voluntary universitystudent initiative, CRDT has grown into an organisation working to deliver community and rural development projects to over 3,000 families in support of conservation of critically endangered Mekong River Irrawaddy Dolphins in Kratie and Stung Treng, and the protection of tropical forest biodiversity in Mondulkiri. CRDT have received two large grants from CEPF. The first project entitled ‘Sustainable Livelihoods for Mekong Biodiversity and Critical Wetland Resource Conservation in Cambodia’ starting since September 2010 and the second one called ‘Sustainable Development to Support Wise Use and Conservation of the Wetland 41

The Babbler 41 - May 2012


White-shouldered Ibis workshops paves the way for continued action and research


hite-shouldered Ibis research and conservation action has developed considerably in north and east Cambodia in the past few years. However, despite year-on-year increases in this species’ known Cambodian population (now at least 644 individuals), the species remains under considerable threat of extinction. The University of East Anglia (UEA), UK and BirdLife International Cambodia Programme co-hosted a workshop on 24 January to review the existing knowledge of White-shouldered Ibis and share ideas for continued conservation efforts. The workshop, held in Phnom Penh, was attended by over 30 people from 11 institutions, including government departments and NGOs directly (and indirectly) involved in ibis conservation. Key outcomes from the workshop included agreement to continue counting ibis at roosts in the wet season. Coordinated roost counts, undertaken since 2009, provide an invaluable tool for demonstrating sudden population changes and aid our understanding of ibis population size. In some cases, such as at Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, continued roost monitoring will provide an insight into the ibis’ resilience as economic land concessions are implemented and roads and dams built.

Dr. Paul Dolman gives the welcome speech (Photo: Bou Vorsak)

A White-shouldered Ibis coordination group was a and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Mohammed Bin further workshop outcome. This will encourage greater Zayed Species Conservation Fund for funding the event. communication between all the key stakeholders in ibis conversation, allowing roost and nest data to be shared, Threat Severity Immediacy assisting joint publication and media liaison and providing Economic land concessions a stronger dialogue on research and conservation issues Very high Urgent and dams affecting the ibis. Sum Phearun, BirdLife International – Poison-bait hunting at Cambodia Programme, was nominated to lead this group High Urgent trapaengs and his enthusiasm provides hope for continued, cooperative Nest robbery and action for ibis in the future. Medium Urgent vandalism Presentations on current knowledge and conservation action Road construction and High Medium sett lers’ encroachment came from representatives from six sites that support WhiteLoss of traditional land shouldered Ibis populations. This informed a discussion of High Medium R management the key threats to White-shouldered Ibis, which workshop Expansion of local participants ranked to determine the issues of greatest Medium Medium agriculture severity and urgency for conservation action. Economic land concessions and dams came out at the top of the list [see Hunting targeted at the ibis Low Urgent figure below], with poison-bait hunting and nest robbery Logging by local Low Urgent also identified as significant threats. communities Cultivation of trapaengs Low Medium R Hugh Wright, UEA, presented the findings of his PhD Frog harvesting at Low Medium R research and explained how, in spite of the larger known trapaengs population, 75% of the population occurs in unprotected Natural predation at nests Low Low R areas that are vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation. Weather events destroying Very Low Low This maintains the species’ Critically Endangered status and nests the greater numbers of ibis being found are probably due to greater survey effort rather than a population recovery. The The threats to White-shouldered Ibis ranked by their severity and long-term security of the species is likely to be interlinked the immediacy of required action. R indicates that further research is needed to accurately determine the severity and/or immediacy of the with local communities, as the ibis is dependent on grazing threat. This provides an indication of risks to the White-shouldered of waterholes by domestic livestock and abandoned rice Ibis population as a whole, though the scale of threats may vary fields for foraging. Changing livelihood practices could spell between sites disaster for the species in the absence of more natural -----------processes, such as the action of wild ungulates which are Source: By Hugh Wright, University of East Anglia (UEA)- PhD now largely extirpated in the ibis’ range. researcher BirdLife International – Cambodia Programme and UEA would like to thank all workshop participants and the John D. 42

The Babbler 41 - May 2012


“Dirty Money” in Illegal Logging Can be Tracked and Confiscated—World Bank Reports


ashington, March 20, 2012 – Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football field is clearcut by illegal loggers around the globe. A new World Bank report released today shows how countries can effectively fight illegal logging through the criminal justice system, punish organized crime, and trace and confiscate illegal logging profits. The report, Justice for Forests: Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging, affirms that to be effective, law enforcement needs to look past low-level criminals and look at where the profits from illegal logging go. By following the money trail, and using tools developed in more than 170 countries to go after ‘dirty money,’ criminal justice can pursue criminal organizations engaged in large-scale illegal logging and confiscate ill-gotten gains. The World Bank estimates that illegal logging in some countries accounts for as much as 90 percent of all logging and generates approximately US$10–15 billion annually in criminal proceeds. Mostly controlled by organized crime, this money is untaxed and is used to pay corrupt government officials at all levels. The new report provides policy and operational recommendations for policy makers and forestry and law enforcement actors to integrate illegal logging into criminal justice strategies, foster international and domestic cooperation among policy makers, law enforcement authorities and other key stakeholders, and make better use of financial intelligence.

unreported, or are ignored. In addition, estimates of criminal proceeds generated by forest crimes do not capture their enormous environmental, economic and societal costs— biodiversity threats, increased carbon emissions and undermined livelihoods of rural peoples, with organized crime profiting at the expense of the poor. “Preventive actions against illegal logging are critical. We also know that they are insufficient,” said Magda Lovei, Sector Manager at the World Bank. “When implemented, the recommendations of this publication can have a strong deterrent effect that has been missing in many actions taken against illegal loggers.” Organized crime networks behind large scale illegal logging have links to corruption at the highest levels of government. The investigation of forest crimes is made even more complex by the international dimension of these operations. Recognizing these challenges, this study calls for law enforcement actions that are focused on the “masterminds” behind these networks—and the corrupt officials who enable and protect them.

“We need to fight organized crime in illegal logging the way we go after gangsters selling drugs or racketeering,” said Jean Pesme, Manager of the World Bank Financial Market Integrity team that helps countries implement effective legal and The full report can be accessed at operational frameworks to combat illicit financial flows. -----------Source: The World Bank Despite compelling evidence showing that illegal logging is a global epidemic, most forest crimes go undetected,

Biomonitoring Methods for the Lower Mekong Basin


he aquatic resources of the Mekong River and its tributaries are essential for supporting the livelihoods of a large percentage of the 60 million or more people living in the Lower Mekong Basin. The sustainable management of these resources depends on maintaining the ecological health of the River. From 2003 – 2008 the ecological health was monitored by the Environment Programme of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) using biological metrics. This report provides a handbook of methods for future monitoring by the MRC and the National Mekong Committees (NMCs) of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam. Biological monitoring is used throughout the world for evaluating the ecological health of running water habitats. This report begins with a description of the concept of biological monitoring and how it relates to the physical and chemical monitoring of streams and rivers. The report then discusses the development phases of the monitoring programme, beginning with the early attempts of the Mekong Committee in the 1980s and up to the design of the activities under the MRC Environment Programme from 2002 through to 2010. The potential use of biological monitoring Biomonitoring Methods for the Lower Mekong Basin information by planning and management agencies is described. Read full report here. ----------Source: Mekong River Commission ISBN No: 978-9932-08-060-1

Mekong River Commission

April 2010


The Babbler 41 - May 2012


From property to pachyderms, ElefantAsia’s Tracy Brookshaw voyage into conservation


nlike many people’s academic journey into the field of conservation, Tracy Brookshaw’s transition into her current role of Project Manager for French-based NGO ElefantAsia (a CEPF grantee) was a little unconventional.

of the ‘Kids in Parks’ programme, an annual Environmental Education initiative run by partners SANParks, Pick N Pay, the departments of Environment Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) and Education (DoE).

On the cusp of redundancy due to the economic down turn, Tracy decided to take destiny into her own hands. Resigning from her long standing career as Sale Executive for a UK based building company, Tracy then travelled to the wilds of South Africa to enter the Global Vision International (GVI) SANParks volunteer internship.

The programme allowing previously disadvantaged children countrywide to visit a National Park, children which otherwise would not have opportunity to do so. Staying three days, two nights, ten groups of fifty children visited Bontebok National Park over the course of five weeks, each group enjoying activities such as a snake demonstration, canoeing, swimming, trail walks.

Located in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom in South Africa’s smallest National Park, Bontebok, Tracy found herself working within the People and Conservation Department. The primary objective of this division of SANParks being to strengthen relationships with the neighbouring communities, relationships which have been somewhat strained since the Apartheid regime. “No two days were ever the same” Tracy explains as she reminisces about her year, “one day I could be involved in a game count, the next plant monitoring. On one occasion I found myself accompanying a whole school, over a thousand children, on a trail walk in the National Park. This was challenging!”

Not being a parent or having any real teaching experience, Tracy’s interaction with children had previously been quite limited however she soon became accustomed to working with a small child sat jauntily on her hip whilst implementing environmental based activities and readily admits that the participating children touched her life as much as she hopes she touched theirs. From South Africa, Tracy travelled to Southeast Asia locating herself in the capital of Laos, Vientiane, where she continued to volunteer, this time for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and subsequently ElefantAsia in a more office based capacity. A major component of her role for both organisations was proposal writing combined with several communication projects working on a varied selection of species and habitat conservation. Now working full-time for ElefantAsia, Tracy concentrates on just one species, Elephas Maximus, the Asian Elephant an iconic species the world over.

Although by far Tracy’s greatest challenge With approximately 470 captive elephants and around 400 in her new role was wild elephants left in Laos, the future of the Asian elephant organising and hosting remains uncertain. ElefantAsia, a non-profit organisation,

works to ensure the health, welbeing and perpetuation of endangered captive elephant populations in the Lao PDR. Operating in Laos since 2001 in conjunction with the Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF) and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the ElefantAsia team initiates elephant conservation programmes, elephant breeding incentives, environmental awareness and economic sustainability campaigns throughout areas of Laos populated by captive and wild elephants. Since joining the ElefantAsia team in October 2010, Tracy has found the occasional opportunity to leave the office work behind. Heading to Sayaboury province, the heartland of captive elephants in Laos, to implement the NGO’s ‘Elephant Mobile Library’ to promote literacy and awareness of endangered species by delivering Lao language resources with retired logging elephants to remote rural primary schools. And then again in February of this year to attend the 2012 Elephant Festival featured also in this edition of the Babbler ----------Left photo: Tracy and Monica, pupil from Vleiplaas Primary School Right photo: One group from the Kids in Parks programme. 44

The Babbler 41 - May 2012

staff news



fter over three years working for BirdLife Cambodia Programme as Finance/ Administration Assistant, Danik Ma left this quarter to emigrate to the USA and get married. We thank Danik for all her contributions to BirdLife in the past time and wish her every happiness in the future

o Polab joined BirdLife in April 2012 as an Administration/Finance Officer. In 2005, she has completed Bachelors degree in Business Management from the National Institute of Business (NIB), Cambodia. Before joining BirdLife she worked for The Cambodia Trust as an accountant. She has more than ten-year experience of accounting/finance and administration working in NGOs and private sector


eas Rithy (left) was appointed CEPF Project Officer for Cambodia in February 2011. He played an important role in carrying out project activities and providing support to CEPF funded projects in Cambodia before he decided to become the Deputy National Project Coordinator for a project implemented by Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment. His replacement is Sum Phearun (right) who will officially take over responsibilty on 1 June 212. Phearun is already known to BirdLife and has worked for BirdLife’s White-shouldered and Giant Ibis species conservation work at Western Siem Pang and in Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary for several years already.


The Babbler 41 - May 2012

From the archives

Rhino Wars


n a café in Vietnam, a woman grinds a piece of rhino horn. By adding a little water and rubbing the horn over the dish’s sandpaper-like bottom, she creates a solution that many Asians believe is a super-vitamin and a cure for various maladies. Few scientific studies have been conducted on rhino horn’s medicinal benefits, and the results have been inconclusive. Since taking it, she says, “I don’t feel my kidney stones.” -------Source:


The Babbler 41  
The Babbler 41  

Quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina (April - June 2012)