“Gold forests” of Nghe An Province
Pu Mat National Park is situated in the administrative areas of An Son, Con Cuong and Tuong Duong Districts, Nghe An Province. It consists of a central area of 94,804ha and a buffer area of 86,000ha and has rich biodiversity with many rare and precious fauna and flora. According to surveys carried out in recent years, Pu Mat National Park has nearly 2,500 species of plants and nearly 1,000 species of animals. The name Pu Mat is very familiar to scientists because the park is the place where the Sao La (pseudoryxnghetinhensis), a rare and precious species of animal, has been discovered.
Vo Cong Anh Tuan, a cadre of the Bureau for Scientific Research, Wildlife Rescue and International Co-operation of the Pu Mat National Park said that the conservation activities are very difficult because the number of plants and animals is great and they are scattered in a large area. To obtain precise information to facilitate the management work, the cadres of the park must take field trips and surveys which last nearly a month in deep forests. From these trips they can meticulously and precisely localize and define the plant community and the animals’ habitations to form a basis for evaluating and devising plans in sustainable and effective conservation.
We followed Tuan to visit the wildlife rescue centre, one of the most important professional organizations of the Pu Mat National Park. The centre is raising various species of porcupines, turtles and bears to serve research and conservation work.
These animals were taken from different parts of the country. Most of them had poor health because they were young or wounded by illegal hunters. At first, the specialists at the centre studied their specific activities and then mapped out plans to treat, care for and raise them until they were healthy enough to be released into the natural environment.
Nguyen Tat Ha, another cadre in the centre showed us a clean cage where a fairly big Tibetan bear is kept. He said that the bear was brought from a forest in Ky Son to the Centre in 2008. It was small and weak and weighed less than two kilograms. Two years later, it weighed over 70kg with stable health and was able to withstand changes of the severe weather in the mountainous area in Nghe An Province.
Vo Cong Anh Tuan said that Pu Mat National Park is also a valuable area, in terms of conservation of species, for Laos and the entire Indochina area. If managed and protected well, the park will become an ideal place to preserve many rare and precious species of animals which are on the brink of extinction. With these special values, Pu Mat National Park is really an affluent “gold forest” area in Nghe An Province.
Pu Mat area is the main residence of the Thai ethnic group in Nghe An Province. In the Thai language, Pu Mat means “the highest mountain”. The Thai people in the Pu Mat area live in hamlets. They grow rice, reclaim land for cultivation, raise cattle and poultry, make bamboo and rattan products and weave traditional brocade cloth. Their brocade cloth is well known for its bright colours and unique decorative patterns. A small population of the Kinh and the Dan Lai people also live in this area. The Dan Lai people live mainly in the Co Phat and Bung Hamlets of Mon Son Commune, southeast of Pu Mat National Park.
Visiting the hamlets in Pu Mat area, visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy the unique festive space of the ethnic people. They can participate in the Sap dance, drink the Can wine (wine drunk out of a jar through bamboo straws) and learn about the local customs and habits.
Pu Mat National Park has 1,841m-high Pu Mat Mountain which is dubbed as the second Fansipan in Vietnam. Visitors to the park are very interested in the wildness of the primeval forests and beautiful landscapes. There is the Kem Waterfall, 150m high, which looks like a white silk band. Its water runs all year round, spreading a spray against the heat of the southwestern wind, relieving the typical scorching weather of the central region in summer. The Moc Spring with clear water is cool in summer and warm in winter, so it is very attractive to visitors. Coming to this area, visitors can take a boat ride upstream on the Giang River to discover the splendid and superb beauty of the mountains and forests. They can also walk in the forests of Sang le trees (Lagerstroemia tomentosa) to see century-old trees which are about 50m high with a large canopy of leaves, listen to birds singing and enjoy golden sunbeams through spaces between the leaves at sunrise or sunset.
To increase the attractiveness of this special tourist site the management board of the Pu Mat National Park ordered construction of traditional craft villages of the Thai ethnic people to help visitors learn more about the customs and daily activities of the local people.