To the rescue of trapped wildlife
VietReader 4-10-2020, 12:51
To the rescue of trapped wildlife
Patrols in the Pu Mat National Park, in Nghe An (Center). Photo: TN /CVN

At 9 a.m., it was already stiflingly hot in the Con Cuong district, where the Pu Mat National Park is located. The Special Wild Animal Rescue Brigade (BSSAS) is preparing for a new patrol in the National Park.
Their gear is heavy and cumbersome: the location device, the map of the National Park, an electric torch, a lighter, medicines, clothes, tents, hammocks, pots and of course something to eat: rice, instant noodles, dried fish, salted pork , to which are added a few live chickens and ducks to improve the meal. All this stuff constitutes a load of 20 kg on the back of each patroller.
Difficult rounds
Covering a natural area of ​​95 ha of primitive forest, the Pu Mat National Park offers itself as the habitat of 132 species of wild animals and several hundred species of birds and reptiles, which is why this Mecca of nature has become a coveted destination for poachers. Illegal hunts take place there furiously and endlessly. The situation was so serious that Pu Mat National Park decided to create, in early 2018 a special animal rescue brigade made up of 15 experienced agents, under the auspices of the Vietnam Wildlife Protection Center.
"The brigade is divided into sub-groups, each supported by forest agents from Pu Mat National Park. At the rate of six to seven people per sub-group, the patrollers make a round of seven to twelve days each time, inspecting deep into deep forests and rugged mountains in order to track down poachers and save animals that have fallen into their traps ", announces Le Tat Thanh, 40 head of BSSAS.
According to Thanh, "wild animal rescuers" patrols are organized regularly, only two or three days apart. "The poachers are more and more cunning and dangerous. They follow our route in order to avoid us. Sometimes, caught in the act, they are ready to attack us with their hunting rifles", he recounts.
Indeed, patrolling very rugged terrain like this is no easy task. With their heavy burden on their shoulders, the "animal rescuers" progress on foot through the dense forest during the day, and stop in the evening, by a stream, to cook before lying down in their hammocks. The nights under the stars are marked by the harassment of mosquitoes, leeches, snakes and centipedes , not to mention the moments when the flood wakes them up point-blank.
"Trapped grounds"

Pu Mat National Park has a variety of flora and fauna. Photo: TN /CVN

"Over time, you get used to the difficulties. Our greatest obsession is the traps of all kinds that are hidden in such vast spaces. These are real + minefields + where hundreds of traps are found. hide on tracks several hundred meters long ", Thanh shares.
He explains: after having set their traps, baits, cages or snares , the bandits set up small barracks near there, in which they camped for long days in order to harvest the animals. Trapped animals of great commercial value, such as gibbon, polecat, pangolin or even turtle, are immediately transported out of the forest to be sold directly to traffickers.
Less expensive species such as wild boar, deer-pig or chamois are slaughtered on the spot and their meat is smoked to be preserved.
Worse yet, poachers leave deadly devices behind them which continue to trap other wildlife. Time and again, the rescuers have been unfortunate enough to find some already dead. Others are in agony, the body soiled. With a heavy heart, we administer first aid to the wounded animals before transporting them to the Park's Rescue Center and clearing the ground of traps ", Thanh confides. In a sad tone, he recalls the case. landing of a pair of gibbons killed by poachers.
After injuring the female with a gun, they hung the beast on a tree branch while awaiting the arrival of the male eager to save his female. C ' That's when they opened fire, slaughtering the second beast. "It's a sad memory that tears our hearts apart and pushes us every day to continue our mission" , Thanh insists.
At the end of 2019 after two years of operation, the BSSAS has traveled up and down all corners of the Pu Mat National Park. With several hundred patrols to their credit over an area of ​​more than 4500 km 2 , "animal rescuers" removed some 6500 traps, confiscated around 50 shotguns, rescued hundreds of trapped animals and detected around 100 carcasses. More than 200 poachers have been arrested and brought to justice. To a certain extent, the presence of the benefactors of the BSSAS of Pu Mat makes the life of wild animals more peaceful.

The only special rescue brigade
to wild animals in Vietnam

Created in early 2018 and funded by the Vietnam Wildlife Protection Center, the Pu Mat National Park Special Wildlife Rescue Brigade (BSSAS) is unique in Vietnam. Responsible for the special mission of saving the lives of animals victims of unscrupulous poachers, it is made up of 15 agents, all graduates in forestry. "We passed a tough selection exam among 170 candidates, before being professionally trained at the Pu Mat Park. It is a difficult job which requires not only good health, physical fitness and perfect professional know-how, but also a dedication to work and an infinite love for wild animals ", says Le Tat Thanh, head of the BSSAS.

Nghia Dan /CVN