HA NOI (VNS) — Wildlife poaching was continuing to blight the southern province of Kien Giang's U Minh Thuong National Park despite regular patrols, according to the park's assistant director, Nguyen Van Cuong.
Poaching not only threatened rare animals but also increased the risk of forest fire, especially during the dry season, he said.
Five poaching gangs had been detected in the first two months of this year, he said, adding that local authorities arrested 96 people last year.
Tran Hong Dao, head of the forest rangers in the districts of U Minh Thuong and Vinh Thuan, said that residents in the park's buffer zone often caught fish, eels, snakes and other animals in the forest.
In extreme cases, violators even attacked rangers, Dao said.
Authorities would enhance their co-operation with both local rangers and police to protect the forest, Cuong stressed, and those who violated regulations would be strictly punished.
Locals have been encouraged to detect and report poachers, he said.
Recognised as an ASEAN Heritage Park last August, U Minh Thuong covers a total area of more than 21,000 hectares.
The national park is home to 243 species of plants and 500 species of animals, including a number of endangered species.
The park has also been recognised as one of the three highest priority sites for wetland conservation in the Mekong Delta.