A visit to Mr Pangolin

Cuc Phuong Travel Blog

 › entry 20 of 44 › view all entries
One of the many beautiful butterflys

We left the busy streets of Hanoi and ventured to our second national park in Vietnam; Cuc Phuong. The journey took 3 hours and on our arrival we were greeted by Thai who Ben first met whilst working for Durrell last year. Thai works in the pangolin and small carnivore center in the national park which rescues animals that have been illegally taken from the forests to be sold on either as pets, or into the meat/traditional medicine industry.

 We arrived quite late to the park so checked into our room and then headed straight to the restaraunt with Thai, after a catch up over dinner we headed to bed. We were up early the next morning and headed to the botanical gardens which was a 6 km walk in total, whilst in the gardens we saw some spotted deer and an amazing array/amount of butterflys.

Walking through the jungle...
They were absolutely stunning and their colours spanned the whole spectrum of the rainbow, I have never seen so many butterflys in one place at one time, it truly was a feast for the eyes and we were told that April is the best time for butterflys so I cannot even imagine what it would be like then. In the afternoon we headed over to the primate center, which like the carnivore center is a rehabilitation center for animals rescued from the illegal trades. Their hope is to release the animals back into the wild which at present they cannot do as the wild which is left in Vietnam at the moment is too much of a dangerous place for the animals to be, the staff say that if they release the primates back into the wild they would just be poached again so it is truly a vicious circle.
Inquisitive Ostens Civet
Cuc Phuong is a great example of this as there are sadly no langurs left in the wild within the park, they have all been hunted out. Within the center we saw White cheeked langur, yellow cheeked langur, 5 colour langur, gibbons and Delacours langur. They were absolutely stunning animals but it was sad to think that they were once roaming the forests and are now confined to not very large cages.

After the primate center we headed to the parks turtle center. The center is home to many different species of asian turtles which, like the other animals have been confiscated from the illegal trade in wildlife. The turtles face all the same hazards as the other animals, i.e. habitat destruction, poaching etc... The center housed approximately 1000 turtles as they have a breeding scheme running at the center and currently dont really have enough room to house all of the animals that they have! It was a great place to visit as they have some beautiful species there.

Wise old owl

During our time with the turtles we met up with Thai who then took us to see where he works; the small carnivore and pangolin center. We were truly lucky to see the animals that they have here as the center is not usually open to the public. We were first taken to see a brown palm civet and a couple of bintarongs and Leopard cats. We also saw Ostens Civets, a regional endemic and an absoluely beautiful animal.  We then walked back to the restaraunt for dinner after which we would go to see the pangolins. We had to wait until after dinner as they dont usually wake up until atleast 7.30 pm. So after dinner the moment I had been waiting for arrived, we walked back to the carnivore center and then went into the pangolin section of the center and I finally got to see a pangolin.

Toad Frog
I was absolutely exstatic to have got to see a pangolin they really are such odd animals but quite beautiful in their own magical way. They are protected but a suit of scales which are made up of Keratin much like our finger nails but much tougher. They have quite a small head (and a small brain to go with it apparently) and a very sensitive sense of smell. As soon as we were in the room the pangolin came slowly wondering over to where we were standing sniffing the air as he went, they move quite awkwardly as they have quite long claws which they use for digging, how anybody would want to harm them I really dont understand. Thai informed us that last year 14 and a half tonnes of pangolin meat was seized in Vietnam which is an absolutely rediculous amount, and most probably a fraction of the amount that was actually traded. Thai also told us that as people can get more money for the pangolin if it is alive when they sell it (and it also runs on the scheme of the heavier the animals, the more money they receive) so people actually tube feed the animals with food that is NOT in its natural diet (they eat ants) and also inject the animals with water under the skin to make them weigh more. So its not enough that the animals are taken away from their home to face death but they are also basically tortured for a while before they are killed. It really does make me sick to be a human being when I realise just what people will do for money (and its not out of desperation its just greed).

The next day we met Thai in the morning and then ventured into the forest. The forest was absolutely beautiful, it was really lush and there were weird snails and bugs everywhere. Although the mammals are mostly gone, there are still some small carnivores, like civets, martens, and other mammals like sambar deer still hanging on, but only just! Sadly we didnt see any mammals, just some kind of cobra but to be honest being in such a beautiful forest was enough of a site for me to see. In the evening I decided to stay at home as Thai and Ben ventured back into the forest to go on a frog hunt, as frogs are nocturnal Ben was absolutely itching to get to see what he could find at night. They set off on Thais motorbike and it turned out to be a very successful trip as they saw 12 different species of frog, an owl, a viper some agamid lizards and loads of invertibrates. Ben came back to the hotel a very happy man!

The next morning we caught the bus at 9 a.m and set off back to Hanoi but had a diversion on the way....

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
One of the many beautiful butterfl…
One of the many beautiful butterf…
Walking through the jungle...
Walking through the jungle...
Inquisitive Ostens Civet
Inquisitive Ostens Civet
Wise old owl
Wise old owl
Toad Frog
Toad Frog
Cuc Phuong
photo by: bluemarbletreader