Fishing for crocodiles in Vam Sat mangrove forest

Published: 27/05/2011 05:00



Vam Sat Mangrove Forest is a part of the Can Gio mangrove ecosystem covering an
area of 1,862ha about 55km to the southeast of HCM City. It’s a popular
destination for many young people who visit to discover the rich and diversified
flora and fauna, including such rare animal species as the spot-billed pelican
and the smooth-coated otter.

: Crocodile fishing is
popular in Vam Sat Mangrove Forest, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
— VNS Photo

Vam Sat is also home
to the rare black-spotted yellow crocodile with red eyes which is only found in
the waters of southern Viet Nam and one of the world’s fiercest crocodile
species. They used to threaten locals in the Can Gio forest but there are no
wild carnivores lurking in the rivers today. Instead, tourists who want to see
them visit crocodile farms to witness and learn about the species.

HaNoi University
student Hoang Thai Minh said that he and his friends decided to visit even
though many of the girls were scared.

“It quite a thrill for
tourists,” said Minh, who described standing on boats specially designed boats
not to overturn and covered with a strong net to repel croc attacks. “You get to
hold a strong pole with a dead fish on the hook and prepare for a big bites from
those big-eaters. What’s a great feeling! It was definitely one of the wonderful
experiences in my life.”

“The issue here is not
how to fish for the crocs but how to keep calm and hold the rod tight when the
crocodile takes the bait,” added Minh Tung, a worker from Binh Duong Province.
“Overcoming the fear is great. The crocodiles look awful and fierce. I am the
bravest of our friends so I wasn’t frightened when one snatched my bait.”

: Tourists in a boat
admire the mangrove forests.

For the less
adventuresome, the farm also features crab fishing or fish catching after
bailing the pond, said Tran Van Phuong, deputy director of the site.

A short journey by
sampan will also lead visitors to a lagoon which is home to hundreds of the
large bats known as flying fox. There area was approved by the HCM City
administration in 2003 as sightseeing and research site for domestic and foreign

During the day, the
large fruit bats hang high in the trees sleeping. The nocturnal animal, found
from Australia to Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos, goes seeking cooking at night. The
number of bats has fallen remarkably. In 1999, they were counted at about 3,000,
but the number has fallen to about 300 because of hunting and predators.

The Vam Sat site also
has 100ha aviary. In summer, most of the birds in the area nest and care for
their young. Those who wish to explore it have to wear boots and trek through
the mud to the date forest. At sunset, birds are seen in different colours,
adding some romance to the afternoon.

Out of hell
: Fruit bats or flying
foxes, whose numbers have been reduced in recent years, are thriving in Vam Sat.
— File Photos

“We are planing a
major project which will allow tourists to watch the birds more closely,
building nests and taking care of their young,” Phuong told Viet Nam News. The
management board was also reviewing ways to attract more birds to the area, he

The Vam Sat zone was recognised one
of the world’s 65 sustainable development tourist sites, and one of only two in
Viet Nam, by the World Tourism Organisation in 2002. In 2003, the organisation
proclaimed Vam Sat an important wildlife sanctuary characterised by a wetlands
biosystem dominated by mangrove and many rare species.

After visiting the
aviary, Minh and his friends made their way towards Tang Bong Tower to enjoy the
panorama of the whole area from atop the 26m-tall structure. The site is also
planning the development of a small museum to display terracotta artefacs from
the Oc Eo culture (first-sixth century).

Here, Minh also had a
chance to discover war relics from the famous waterway battlefield and learn
about the hardships endured by the Vietnamese liberation force during the
American War at the resistance base of Sac Forest.

One day in the forest
hardly seems enough to experience and learn everything about it. Minh and his
group vowed to return in the middle of the eighth lunar month for the
spectacular festival of the region held here annually. The Nghinh Ong Festival
prays for safety offshore and wishes for peace, happiness and prosperity for the
local fishing community.

Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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