Binh Thuan Ecosystems
Binh Thuan province has perhaps the most diverse collection of ecosystems in a single province. In less than 1 hour's drive from Phan Thiet District, you can reach immense gold, red and white sand dunes, enormous red sand canyons, mangrove marshes with incredible animal life, tropical rainforests, rocky mountains, islands, coral reefs, waterfalls, rivers, caves, exotic beaches, lakes, desert landscape with cactus and cobras, coconut groves and bamboo forests, plantations, dry scrub forests, brackish and freshwater marshlands and much more yet undiscovered.
Binh Thuan Province offers amazing birdlife, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, insects, spiders and scorpions, many bat species, primates and other mammals rarely seen but few have ever taken the time to find and observe them.
This area must be cherished and protected from pollution and over-exploitation. Be a responsible visitor. Don't litter. Support resorts and tour companies who dispose of their rubbish and waste water properly. Ask your hotel or guide about activites that support the environment - diving, hiking, bird watching. Eventually they will get the idea.
At the beach itself you will not find a lot of wildlife. However, in the dunes are a variety of birds, snakes, lizards, insects, frogs and crabs. Of note are the giant milipedes and cobras! the Fairy Springs offers a glimps of wild flowers, butterflies, freshwater fish and crabs. At the water's edge, you can watch fishermen pull in their nets full of squid, octopus, cuddle fish, jellifish, fish, crabs, and on rare occasions, sea snakes.
Binh Thuan Desert & Environmental Concerns
Binh Thuan Nature Reserves
20.02.11 During a recent trip to the White Dunes, I was outraged to see that quads were for hire.
The dunes cannot resist this agression and neither can the lake where oil is being dumped.
It is scandelous that this marvelous place will be destroyed so that a few people profit
What can we do to prevent this ? How can we make the tourists understand that they are destroying a natural site which should be perserved ?
Do the people hiring out these quads have permits ??
In case of accident, who is responsible ???
Paris Mui Ne Plage,
94 Nguyen Dinh Chieu
Thank you for your letter Nathalie! We agree with you. We have received many complaints about the noisy quads--about how they destroy the mood and atmosphere, ruin photo opportunities, polute the lake, and destroy vegetation along the periphery.
Additionally there have been complaints about the badly behaved village kids there--harassing tourists, using foul language, and even assaulting visitors.
Besides the monkeys and other illegal wild animals kept on chains there, we have now heard that there is even ostrich racing! Apparently this is also being done at the Fairy stream, as well as near the town of Ma Lam. We hope this isn't another fad but it sure looks like it. There may (or not) be anything illegal about this. However we are concerned about the possibility of abuse to these animals. No creature should be made to do hard labor on the dunes: this is a deadly environment. There is also a danger to tourists however. Ostriches are capable of delivering a fatal kick when threatened--disembowling their victims.
As you correctly suggest, the White Sand Dunes are one of Binh Thuan Province's most valuable tourism resources. Yet what has the province done with the dunes? Well, there was an ancient Cham temple on the lake, but it was intentionally destroyed sometime during or after the war, according to locals. The lake holds the stories of more than 1000 years of human history. Why is there no museum for the many statues and other relics that were there? The lakes were also one of the best areas to watch rare water birds along the coast--until recently. Why have there been no bird watching tours? Or have all the birds been caught and sold as pets downtown in Phan Thiet at the Ca Ty River illegal wild bird market? The beach across from the dunes was one of the best unspoiled beaches in the province--that is until it was destroyed by Titanium mining last year. Now the dunes themselves are under assault. Will anything be done before it's too late--perhaps not, but we wish it would.
01.01.11 Film Director Le Hoai Phuong has received the VND30 million prize and the Viet Nam Green Award this week in Hanoi for his documentary Toi Ac Rung Xanh (Crime in the Forest). The film depicts illegal hunting of wild animals in Binh Thuan Province.
The film's topic and visuals left a strong impression on the audience and the jury. To make the film, Phuong and his staff spent three years following illegal hunters, who agreed to the filming but asked the director to conceal their identity.
"Phuong's work condemns people who destroy forests and hunt wild animals. His film's message calls on people to protect and keep the world and environment safe from disease," said Bui Dinh Hac, veteran film director.
"Through our work, we hope audiences can learn about saving the natural world and have a visual treat as well," he said.
Organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and its partners, the Viet Nam Cinematography Association and Viet Nam Television, this year's national Environment Film Festival attracted 131 entries.
Read more about Binh Thuan's wildlife news.
25.12.10 As a former primatologist, I am very concerned to see monkeys kept as pets once again in Phan Thiet and Mui Ne. These monkeys are kept on chains in front of shops or at hotels as a way to lure curious customers. Besides being illegal (buying or selling some species of primates and other wild animals in Vietnam earns penalties of up to 500,000,000 VND or more than US$25,000), and cruel to the animal, these monkeys are a ticking time bomb.
Macaques Carry a Deadly Disease
According to the Center for Disease Control (USA), "[Herpes] B-virus infection is highly prevalent (80% to 90%) in adult macaques and may cause a potentially fatal meningoencephalitis in humans." Macaques are the most commonly seen group of monkeys in Vietnam, and are the monkeys now seen as pets again in Mui Ne (Ham Tien) and Phan Thiet.
Herpes B is not the common "kissing disease" we humans often suffer from. Herpes B is a deadly virus found in primates. While it is not fatal to monkeys, it is often deadly for humans, and there is no treatment available for it. The majority of macaques are life-long carriers of the disease. Infection outbreaks come spontaneously and without warning.
According to the CDC, "B-virus disease in humans usually results from macaque bites or scratches. Incubation periods may be as short as 2 days, but more commonly are 2 to 5 weeks." Children are most susceptible because, as shown in a recent study, children are 3.2 times more likely to be bitten during exposure to a monkey.
The Cruelty of Pet Monkeys
Monkeys are caught as babies. Their mothers may be killed in the process. Many pet monkeys are missing one or more limbs because they were caught using a snare that cuts off blood supply to the appendage, causing it to atrophy.
As monkeys get older, they become increasingly aggressive. This is a natural behavior, necessary to establish dominance in monkey troupes. Biting and scratching becomes more common, making them less desirable as pets. If the monkey manages to make it to adulthood (most strangle to death on their chains or die of malnutrition long before this), it is then either killed intentionally by the owner, or turned loose. Without the opportunity to learn survival skills from its mother (and unafraid of humans due to prolonged captivity), the monkeys cannot cope on their own in the wild. They are more susceptible to diseases, eventually starve, or become a pest and are killed by other people. Monkeys virtually never live to old age in captivity in Vietnam.
Laziness is No Excuse
Just because these illegally kept monkeys have not been confiscated, as required by law, does not mean that keeping them is OK. Eventually the issue will come back to bite their owners—pun intended—whether this means the death of a tourist or a substantial fine paid by the owner. We urge owners of pet monkeys to voluntarily turn their pets over to authorities. We also urge visitors to Mui Ne to not shop at businesses keeping monkeys or other exotic animals on display.
11.10.09 Vietnamese news media recently reported that inspectors found a 35-year-old hawksbill turtle (Ertemochelys imbricata ) being slaughtered and for sale in Cau Ke Market (Binh Thuan Province). The turtle, which weighed about 100 kilograms, is of one of seven sea turtle species listed as endangered. We aren't entirely sure where Cau Ke is, but we are sad to say that sea turtles were commonly available in restaurants and markets until 5-10 years ago, when the supply died out due to over-hunting. Their lacquered carcasses can still be found, sold in shops as souvenirs, in cities like Vung Tau (pictured right, 2008), Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and Hanoi.
lesser bamboo rat (Cannomys badius), possibly the same species confiscated at Trang Golden
27.10.08 Early this month we reported on Trang Golden restaurant on Ton Duc Thang Street in Phan Thiet, which was serving illegal wildlife to its customers. We are happy to report that thanks to the efforts of Education for Nature, Vietnam’s Forest Protection Department last week confiscated 15 bamboo rats and half a dozen wild snakes kept in captivity at the restaurant. The animals were released into the wild and FPD also issued a fine of 1,998,000 VND to the restaurant owner.
It is troubling to know that the restaurant—located in plain view, across the street from the provincial police headquarters--could be keeping so many live forest animals, and also serve other illegal wildlife, including wild deer, porcupine, crocodile, python, civet, mouse-deer, turtle, lizard and cobra… especially when one considers that this restaurant is one of many serving wildlife in Phan Thiet.
We applaud the work of Education for Nature and hope that visitors to the area will contact the hotline should they see any wild animals listed on restaurant menus or displayed in cages.