Nam Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park

vyacheslav stepanyuchenkoCat Tien National Park, located 150 kilometres north of Ho Chi Minh City, covers an area of 720 square kilometres and protects some of Vietnam's most endangered species of plant and animal life. For visitors to Vietnam who enjoy the outdoors, Cat Tien National Park is a must-see destination.

Plant and Animal Life at Cat Tien

Cat Tien National Park was initially protected by Vietnam in 1978. Consisting of two adjacent segments, Cat Loc and Nam Cat Tien, the park stretches over three different provinces and is surrounded by agricultural land.

The park's forest is one of the last tropical rainforests left in Vietnam, and as such it is a haven for a diverse array of otherworldly trees, brightly-coloured butterflies, endangered reptiles and amphibians, and mammals ranging from monkeys to rhinoceroses.

The rhinos are a particular point of pride for the park. In 1992, a herd of Vietnamese Javan Rhinos were discovered in the Cat Loc area, one of only two remaining herds in the wild. Unfortunately, like so many mammals once plentiful in Vietnam, the rhinos used to be the most populous species in Asia, but was hunted into near extinction in the nineteenth century. Although European hunters were initially to blame for the depopulation of the rhinoceroses, today the animals are threatened by traditional Chinese medicine. One poached rhino horn can earn as much as £20,000 on the black market, making the rhino herd a very tempting target for impoverished local farmers.

vyacheslav stepanyuchenkoOther threats to the park include illegal logging and the local population's push to open more acreage to agriculture. The visits and donations of foreign tourists provide much-needed funding to help the park conserve its unique forests and unique animals. Visiting Cat Tien National Park, then, provides not just a fun outdoor adventure, but also a way to contribute to the conservation of one of Asia's last untouched tropical rainforests.

Some eco-tourists enjoy participating in the park's conservation initiatives, which include sponsored tree replanting. For just £13, visitors can plant a tree in the park to help keep it green.

Visiting the Villages Around Cat Tien National Park

After you have a chance to plant a tree and snap a photo of a rare rhino or golden gibbon (one of the park's many primate species), you might decide to supplement your natural sight-seeing with some cultural sight-seeing.

The people living in the central valley of the Cat Tien National Park reserve include the Chau Ma and the Stieng. These ethnic communities, located mostly to the south of Cat Tien, have lived in the area for many centuries. A day trip into one of these rural villages may provide interesting insight into the way of life of these traditional farmers, as well as a unique opportunity to understand a very different part of Vietnam.

For the eco-tourist in Vietnam, Cat Tien National Park, including the larger area of Nam Cat Tien and the smaller Cat Loc, are important destinations. Offering a chance to see some of the rarest flora and fauna in Southeast Asia, a visit to Cat Tien National Park also reaffirms the importance of preserving ancient ecosystems from extinction. Visiting Cat Tien gives the European tourist a chance to give back to a region that Europe has greatly benefited from over the past few centuries.