Snub-nosed Monkeys and Illegal Logging

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Tonkin snub-nosed monkey

San Diego Zoo staff members Bryan Endress and Maren Peterson are currently in Vietnam to help put together a conservation plan for critically endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys. They are keeping us posted on their progress. See their previous blog, Snub-nosed Monkey Habitat.

We are back in Hanoi for a few meetings before flying back to the States tomorrow. It was a good trip. Our field work ended with a trip to the other side of the proposed Khau Ca protected area. We were told we were the first foreigners to visit both sides. It was a beautiful area and the local community was extremely friendly. I’ll try to post pictures when we return.

We visited potential reforestation areas and discussed the proposed boundary of the protected area. Starting our hike we heard sawing. Some of the locals were cutting a tree. Permits are required to cut trees in the forest. As the director of the Forest Patrol District (FPD) was accompanying us, it was a bad day to cut the tree. Needless to say, we continued the hike without the FPD director. Whereas many would cheer about someone being caught cutting a tree, it really isn’t that simple or exciting at all.

The communities we have visited during this trip use forest resources more extensively than any other communities in all the others I have visited. The reason the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey still exists is because local people have managed the forest well enough so there is still habitat. With population pressure, future management is a concern. However, we need to work with the communities. Later that night the head of the community came to talk to the FPD director. We ended up having a great discussion with him about potential options and locations for community forests as they will most likely lose area with the protected area. They had an area all picked out, with species they are interested in, and are concerned about the potential of fire with the current degraded landscape. Working with communities is so important, and they have an immense amount of knowledge to share and ideas for solutions. The illegal logging was an unfortunate but informative event for the trip.

Maren Peterson is a conservation education consultant for the San Diego Zoo. Bryan Endress is the division head of the Zoo’s Applied Plant Ecology Division.