14 August 2013 | News story
Last week, a hunter was caught red-handed concealing two dead Douc Langurs (Pygathrix) inside a rice-bag – the usual way to transport illegal kills. While the animals have yet to be scientifically identified, all Douc Langurs are recognised threatened species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The arrest was conducted in a village bordering the forest by rangers on duty for an SOS-funded project aiming to safeguard Douc Langurs and Gibbons, who stopped the young man to check the content of the rice bags.
Grim as it may seem, this is important news! Lois Lippold, president of the Douc Langur Foundation (DLF) explains: “while such hunting had long been illegal, law-breakers in Son Tra Nature Reserve and Chu Mom Ray National Park were never formally arrested, until the SOS-funded project empowered rangers through targeted trainings and funds for incremental patrols. This first arrest is therefore a major news, proof of a new courage and determination in stopping the killing of threatened species. Most importantly it will send a very powerful message to other hunters that there are serious consequences to face from this illegal activity.”
Such news should indeed travel fast and Lois Lippold estimates that word-of-mouth around the area will reach 10,000 people in the coming days. Moreover the Vietnamese Forest Protection Department, with support from the project team, is working hard to ensure that this arrest is widely publicised among all neighbouring villages. As the case moves through the courts the project team will provide all necessary support to enable a thorough trial, for example paying for the legal identification of the dead Douc Langurs’ exact species, or travel costs to allow rangers to testify in person. The team will eventually publicise the judgment and sentence imposed in the wider area.
Hunting for meat, medicines or the live trade is the biggest threat in this area to Douc Langurs and to Gibbons alike. Such an arrest therefore constitutes a significant step toward protecting these threatened species. Congratulations to the DLF project team!