Tram Chim, a bird paradise

Thanh Nien News
18 March 2015

For many tourists from Ho Chi Minh City and beyond, the Tram Chim National Park is an increasingly popular weekend getaway where they can go through melaleuca forests on boats, enjoy the fresh air and see birds sitting on treetops and meadows near lotus swamps.

Located in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, Tram Chim (literally melaleuca (and) bird) is home to 231 species of birds, including 32 protected ones, like the famed sarus crane, cormorant, and darter.

Up to 60,000 birds, mostly waterfowl, live here in the peak rainy season from June through December, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

But Tram Chim wasn’t always home to such an abundant bird population.

The park, which spreads over an area of 7,300 hectares, or about 1 percent of the size of the once extensive wetland known as the Plain of Reeds, was established in 1998 by the Vietnamese government to preserve the eco-system of the Plain.

The move came as the rapidly burgeoning population in southern Vietnam was turning most of the Plain into rice fields.

The development also worsened climatic stresses in the low-lying Mekong Delta. Lengthier droughts during the dry season from January through May was making Tram Chim’s forests prone to fire.
Though trees and grasses then grew back rapidly, the park’s officials were held responsible for the fires, no matter what the cause was.

“I am the seventh director of this park,” Nguyen Van Hung says. “Former directors had to leave due to forest fires.”

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