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In early March of 1993, Professor Cao Van Sung (Director of the Institute
for Ecology and biological Resources) asked me to accompany him on
a visit to a village in what was then called Hai Hung Province, between
Hanoi and Haiphong. Professor Sung had been asked by the Scientific Committee
of the Province People's Committee in Hai Duong city to advise on a village
that had developed a profitable snake and turtle business, including the
export of animals to other Asian countries. Our visit was so interesting
that the People's Committee filmed us with a video camera.
We were taken by Dr Vu Van Duong, chairman of the Scientific Committee to visit the village. We met Mr Nguyen Van Dau (in the blue sweater) who showed us around. Mr Dau wrote me a short synopsis of his village's activities.
Mr Dau said that his is one of 428 families in the area who farm turtles (ba ba), venomous snakes (ran doc), frogs (ech), eels (luon) and loaches (chach). Some years ago they collected these animals from country side. But over time they found fewer and fewer animals. So for some six years Mr Dau and his neighbours began farming these animals.
Initially, they collected and incubated the eggs. But their goal was to breed these species in captivity. They were partly successful in doing this, which was why they needed advice from Professor Sung and other specialists.
The top two figures show a pond for growing turtles.
Below that are two species of snake are cobra and a krait.
The next photo is of a snake pit owned by one of Mr Dau's neighbours.
Finally, and most important to the character of this piece, is Mr Dau's family who are all involved in this business. Members of the People's Committee are in this group. The elderly lady on Mr Dau's right is his 83 year-old grandmother. The man in the red checked shirt with suit coat at Mr Dau'sleft is Professor Sung.
Houses in this area are built close together. The human population density is quite high, even though this is a rural village. The survival of these fish, amphibians and reptiles in such an environment may well mean a high level of active human involvement in their management: sustainable production in farms under the right conditions could assure survival of these wildlife species.
I would like to thank everyone involved for allowing me the opportunity to visit this village.
Location: (then) Hai Hung Province
Prepared by Vern Weitzel <email@example.com>
Australia Vietnam Science-Technology Link