VietNamNet Bridge – Having been recognized as the 2000th Ramsar site of wetlands of international importance, Tram Chim National Park has shown Vietnam’s effort in implementing the Ramsar Convention.
Tram Chim National Park recognized as a Ramsar site
The Tram Chim National Park in Tam Nong district of Dong Thap province is the only left wetland in Dong Thap Muoi area. Covering a total area of 7313 hectares, with a diversified system of swamps, grass plots and natural canals, the park is an original habitat in South East Asia, and one of the 8 important bird areas of Vietnam.
There are 191 species of plants, 150 species of freshwater fish, and nearly 231 species of water birds. Some of these are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book of rare and threatened species.
Especially, Tram Chim has been famous for red headed cranes (Grus antigone), which is listed as a threatened kind of birds by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Book.
Red head cranes disappear
Scientists have warned that the number of the birds listed in Vietnam’s Red Book has decreased dramatically. In 1988, 1050 out of the 1500 bird individuals (70 percent) in the world flew to Tram Chim. Meanwhile, the figure has dropped to 50-60.
Nguyen Van Ly, a farmer in Tam Nong district of Dong Thap province, said in 1963, his family was allocated four hectares of the land to cultivate rice. In the first years of living there, he could see the green color of cajuput and wild grass everywhere.
“At that time, farmers were afraid of the birds which might eat all the rice grains. Just after one night, the birds could clear all the harvested rice. On daylight, if farmers saw the birds, they would create noise to frighten the birds and drive them away,” Li said.
Also according to Li, red headed cranes usually return to Tram Chim in the second and third months of the lunar calendar to look for food. However, they would be easily killed during the time, because farmers fear the birds would damage the rice fields, or they would kill the birds simply because they want to have food for storage.
“Many farmers mixed wet rice with toxic substances and then laid down on the rice fields. Once cranes ate the rice, they died immediately,” Li said.
The number of red headed cranes at Tram Chim has been decreasing gradually since 2000. While farmers dislike the birds, others like them because the birds can be compared as the “Experts in weather forecast.” If someone sees the birds flying high on the sky and shout loudly, he understand that heavy rains would occur just after one or two days.
Under the pressure
The Tram Chim Ramsar site is bearing a hard pressure from the population increase. A lot of people have illegally penetrated the national park to catch fishes and hunt for rare animals. Meanwhile, many households have spontaneously raised buffalos, cows and poultries in the park. In every dry season, the national park is put under the red alert, because it may get fired at any time, if careless people used fire to exploit bee’s honey.
Tram Chim has been attacked by a lot of exotic creatures, including the yellow snails which have made the food sources exhausted for rare birds.
Nguyen Van Hung, Director of the Tram Chim national park, has committed to preserve creatures in the most harmonious and effective way. Firing forests to clear trees for cultivation would easily put the forests on fire, thus badly affecting the living environment of rare birds, but would help increase the bio-diversification of other living beings.