Vogelnest’s Vietnam mission

Vietnam2Taronga senior veterinarian Larry Vogelnest is involved in an ambitious mission to save Vietnam’s Cat Ba langurs from extinction.

Cat Ba langurs, also known as Golden-headed langurs, number about 50 in the wild and are exclusively found on the island of Cat Ba in Northern Vietnam.

Vogelnest applied for the task after reading an advertisement that was distributed worldwide on internet listservs.

“I thought it looked interesting and challenging, and ended up getting one of the two positions available, and in the end they asked me to choose the second vet, somebody that I was happy to work with,” he said.

“I immediately thought of Michael Lynch from Melbourne Zoo because we have done a lot of work together, he has had experience in projects in southeast Asia, and was happy to be involved.”

Vogelnest and Lynch previously worked together in 2006 on the import of Thai elephants to Taronga and Melbourne Zoos for a breeding program. Continue reading Vogelnest’s Vietnam mission

Javan rhino confirmed extinct in Vietnam

The Vietnamese subspecies of the Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) was declared extinct in a report critical of Vietnam’s ‘poor protection and law enforcement’ that was jointly produced by the International Rhino Foundation and World Wildlife Fund.

Although widely believed to have perished during the Vietnam War, a rhino was hunted in the Cat Loc region of southern Vietnam in 1988, which led to the discovery of a small population of about 15 animals. The area was subsequently designated protected in 1992 and eventually incorporated into Cat Tien National Park, but despite conservation attempts by several organisations, the results of a 2004 survey identified only two individuals remained.

Further survey work by a research team from WWF and Cat Tien National Park, conducted between October 2009 and April 2010, involved the collection of 22 dung samples from the park’s core rhino area.

They were sent to Canada’s Queen’s University for genetic analysis, together with the skin and teeth samples from the mutilated body of a female Javan rhino, that was found soon after the official survey ended. The results confirmed that all the samples were from one individual. According to the WWF report the dead rhino was the probable victim of poaching: ‘a common problem in most protected areas in Vietnam that threatens the survival of many other species’.

WWF’s species program manager in the Greater Mekong Nick Cox said the report showed actions to save the Javan rhino in Vietnam were inadequate, and this continued situation would undoubtedly lead to the extinction of many more species from the country. Continue reading Javan rhino confirmed extinct in Vietnam