Posted on 17 July 2020
An incredibly inspiring and surprising story from the minority people and a volunteer conservationist named Tu Vooc.
Last month, we had the chance to visit an isolated remaining Hatinh langur population in Son village and learned an incredibly inspiring and surprising story from the minority people and a volunteer conservationist named Tu Vooc. He had fallen in love with the beautiful langurs in 2013 when he had been walking through his farm and saw these animals look at him. He believed that they would bring luck to his family and his village, so he came back and informed his wife and his father, both of whom supported him and his ideas of protecting the langurs. At that time, local people and hunters killed these animals for food and glue making.
He started keeping watch every day to chase out the hunters and convince the villagers to protect the animals and stop hunting. The population was estimated at that time to be only two groups with a maximum of 20 individuals living within 500 hectares of limestone mountain forests. With fewer poachers in the forest, he and his family were able to earn more income from the area from collecting more mushrooms and firewood.
His story became famous in his village and other villagers began to learn from it and follow his spirit to protect these animals. Tu Vooc’s work continues up to today and he has committed to continue protecting the langurs until the end of his life. It was only recently that his achievement was finally able to be proven when the population numbers were counted and showed an increase to 11 groups with over 150 individuals. The village’s volunteer group has expanded to nine members and is dividing time to protect these animals daily.
However, the community is facing other outside pressure from industrialization, such as cement companies and stone exploration for construction, so they have started looking for support from the local government, while hunters still continue to arrive from other villages in order to poach these animals. While waiting for the government to develop a new guideline and authorize their power for protecting the local wildlife, WWF decided to give a small grant to the community group to support capacity building, first aid training, and patrolling clothes in 2019 and will continue to support them by providing food for the nine members while patrolling in 2020.
This is a great model of community-led conservation born from one man’s passion for wildlife protection. WWF will share this model nationwide and also work closely with the government to soon bring their support.
Author: Van Ngoc Thinh, Country Director, WWF-Viet Nam