Conservation of Delacour's Langur in Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve, Vietnam

Nguyen Manh Hiep
Published: 13 May 2020
Last edited: 28 September 2021
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Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve (NR) is located in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam. Van Long NR claims to be the largest semi-natural inland wetland in the Northern Plain. The Nature Reserve is also home of the world's largest population of Delacour's langurs (Trachypithecus delacouri). Recent counts confirmed c. 150-160 individuals of this langur, a significant increase compared to the number at the time of NR establishment in 2001, which was 60-67 individuals. Delacour's langur is an endemic species to Northern Vietnam, and also listed as critical endangered globally by IUCN. This species is now legally protected by the Government of Vietnam. This solution is about one of the most sucessful efforts of species conservation in Vietnam.


Van Long received Green List certification in 2020.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Species management
Invasive species
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Infrastructure development
Lack of access to long-term funding
Physical resource extraction
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of infrastructure
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Business engagement approach
Indirect through government


Gia Vân, 432200, Huyện Gia Viễn, Ninh Bình, Vietnam
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  • Agricultural: Agricultural activities inside and especially outside NR involved the use of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, etc. having negative impacts on the wetland ecosystem due to the hydrological connections between in- and outside the reserve.
  • Industrial: Van Long NR is impacted by smoke, dust, and waste disposals from Gian Khau Industrial Zone and other cement factories in the area.
  • Invasive species: At present, some alian invasive species recorded in NR such as yellow snail, red-eared slider turtle, tank cleaning fishes, water hyathine and Mimosa pigra. So far, there has been no measures to control these invasive species.
  • Wildlife hunting: At present, although strict protection was introduced, small-scale huntingh activities are still found, hunters using homemade guns and bird-nets.


Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve

Local communities

How do the building blocks interact?

The Government recognition and local involvement have made species conservation a success and an ideal tourist attraction. Van Long NR has been one of the most successful examples in Vietnam of a unique conservation model between community-based tourism development and species and habitat conservation. The Van Long Nature Reserve Management Board and local authorities need to continue to work together, share benefits from tourism activities and reinvest in protection efforts in order to have better management of the wetland and karst ecosystem and its unique biodiversity.


The successful recovery of Delacour’s langur population in Van Long NR is a great story in itself. It has inspired other Protected Areas, as it provides an effective PA-based conservation approach. With good management and protection, as well as better law enforcement, introduced by the establishment of the Nature Reserve, the karst and wetland ecosystems in the area were well maintained and rehabilitated. In the last 20 years, the limestone forest cover has rapidly increased by up to 30%. While habitats improved, the number of wintering waterbirds has significantly increased, making Van Long an interesting birdwatching site that is attracting significant bird-watchers every year. Local communities have new livelihoods from eco-tourism. Being aware of the benefits from conservation of the NR, many of the local people now actively participate in conservation work, such as patrolling and environmental education activities.


Hien Nguyen Nadler

When Mr. Tilo, a German welder, air-conditioning engineer, arrived in Việt Nam in early 1990s, he immediately fell in love with its nature. He observed that wildlife was widely hunted and traded, especially our closest relatives, primate species. He decided to stay, became a conservationist, and was assigned as a project manager of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in 1993. The same year, he founded the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in response to the need for rehabilitation of confiscated primates. He stayed the Director of the EPRC for 22 years. At the time, the occurrence of few small populations of Delacour’s Langur, a Vietnamese endemic and globally critically endangered species, were confirmed in Cuc Phuong National Park and in open-use wetland area nearby, the Van Long wetland.

In the 1990s, small and fragmented langur populations and their habitat in Van Long were under severe threats from different types of human activities, e.g. hunting, land encroachment with industrial, mining, agricultural development, and livestock grazing. Fully aware of those threats, EPRC proposed to establish a protected area in this site. After years of lobbying, and in collaboration with the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute (FIPI) of Hanoi, a wetland nature reserved was successfully established in 2001 and a management board for the NR was later assigned. In the last 20 years, the management board of Van Long Wetland NR with support from EPRC and financial assistance from a number of donors, especially European Zoos, UNDP-SGP and annual investment from the Government of Vietnam, implemented a number of conservation actions to improve protection and habitat rehabilitation. Local communities were identified as part of the problem, but also of the solution. An environmental awareness and education programme was initiated in early 2000s, coupled with buffer-zone livelihoods projects, which helped in changing the locals' attitude into a more environmentally friendly one. Some former hunters changed their mind and became members of community conservation teams. With the establishment of a nature reserve, Van Long became a tourism destination. As the landscape is well protected, wildlife species and habitats recovered, and more and more tourists visit Van Long. The locals now have more job opportunities from tourism. They now value the site and actively protect it as their own asset. The nature reserve is now benefiting both nature and people.

Contributed by

duc.le_38572's picture

Duc Le Center for Nature Conservation and Development (CCD)

Other contributors

IUCN Vietnam
Endangrered Primate Rescue Center (EPRC)
Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve