I am a Ph.D student at Colorado State University, a member of IUCN Large-antlered Muntjac Working Group and a member of IUCN Deer Specialist Group.
Which ASAP species you are working to conserve, and can you tell us a little about your work?
My work involves finding evidence-based solutions to the snaring crisis threatening the Critically Endangered Large-antlered Munjac Muntiacus vuquangensis with extinction. Large-antlered Muntjac is one of the most extraordinary large mammals discovered in 1990s, and endemic to the Annamites, a mountain range extending along the border of Lao PDR, Vietnam and a small part of Cambodia. However, since the discovery, the Large-antlered Muntjac population keeps declining rapidly. The species is now listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List. Snares is one of the highest threats to not only Large-antlered Muntjac but most of ground-dwelling mammals sheltering in the Annamites. Snaring is the cheapest, simplest, but most efficient hunting method, indiscriminate in the species it caught, therefore it creates such a wildlife depletion crisis that is turning the Annamites’ forest into “empty forest”. By finding out the snaring thresholds (i.e. thresholds of unsustainable snaring levels), better in situ conservation management interventions can be developed to avert the extinction of Large-antlered Muntjac.
How do you think the Women in Conservation Leadership Programme will help you in carrying out your work?
Wildlife Conservation is a multi-discipline field that only by working together, we can strengthen and perfecting our effort to create effective and positive results for the conservation work. With that in mind, I realized I need many great supports to transform my strong passion for the conservation of the Annamites into real achievements. Therefore, I believe the Women in Conservation Leadership Programme is the right supporting place, who understood challenges that women are facing with while working in wildlife conservation field. Nevertheless, this special understanding triggered the program to endlessly look for the right sets of knowledge and skills to fulfill or strengthen women’s working abilities in conservation. I learnt to make the best preparation for a long-term project from different aspects of project management, communication, fund raising, etc. The best preparation will always lead to the most sustainable operation that I’m looking for to build up my long-term project on Large-antlered Muntjac conservation.
What inspired you to start working in conservation?
The most wonderful experiences of my life have been looking for glorious moments when animals appear and observing their activities with dozens of questions in mind. Although I spent my childhood in fields and bamboo groves marveling at nature, my first chance to visit forest came when I was an undergraduate investigating the turtle Coura picturata. Although I watched many wildlife documentaries since small, I only knew Vietnam had Rhinos when the last one died in 2010. The more time I spend on fieldwork the deeper my passion grows and the greater regret I feel, because Vietnam’s wildlife and what is happening to it is not a common knowledge to Vietnamese. When I first heard about Large-antlered Muntjac I had never seen a muntjac in the wild, but when I saw my first wild muntjac it was such a wonderful experience I knew I must focus on them.
Minh participated in Phase 1 of WiCLP and is also a part of the ongoing Phase 2 Visible Leadership Programme.