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G12 Trip to Cuc Phuong

Dec 18, 09:21 AM 115 Views
"With a real buzz of excitement surrounding the trip, we climbed aboard what would be our trusty steed for the next few days, the bus. The cancellation of the initial excursion was a big blow but now there were plenty of smiles as Cuc Phuong National Park became our new destination and home for the next few days.



We could have been going on a music trip, based on the amount of singing on the bus but it was a good sign that everyone was in a good mood. We passed quarries, limestone cone karsts and farms before turning down a less travelled path - the gateway to nature. There were a few interesting insects on arrival but before getting our hands dirty, we unpacked our bags and came together to find out more about the surrounding area.

Our first stop was the Turtle Conservation Centre where we learnt about the wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial turtles in Vietnam and threats to their existence.



We then divided up into two groups and entered the world of carnivores, primates and pangolins.  After an insight into the suffering, trafficking and cruelty subject to the pangolins we were left feeling quite emotional and with a clearer idea of the conservation challenge the centre faced as well as the animals themselves. We went outside to see the energetic otters, lumbering binturongs,  civets but would have to wait until nightfall to see the nocturnal pangolins.

At this point, the heavens opened just as we were about to visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre and got a rather drenched tour of the langurs and gibbons along with other endangered primates.

It was hungry work, all this learning, exploring and engaging with new animals and the new environment. So lunch and dinner was a great chance to catch up on what each group has been doing while also refuelling for the rest of the day. While the evenings were often finished off with a highly competitive game of cards.



For one group there was a spooky moonlit night hike, while for the other they prepared an ant-egg and termite cocktail for the delightful little pangolins. Amazing to see them so close and help prepare their carefully weighed-out food. How could we forget the backbreaking hard work that was put in, cleaning the animal enclosures, turning over the soil and creating enrichment feeding contraptions. It was all worth it, to see the delight on the faces of our new little, often furry, friends.

The following day saw a wander through the botanical gardens and a centipede-ridden venture into the Cave of Prehistoric Man. Here we learnt a little about the geological formations and the primitive lives of the cave's previous inhabitants. This was followed by a hair-raising scramble back down steep stairs, through the forest to bring an end to Day 2 morning activities.

There was plenty of hiking and a little cycling thrown in if the adrenaline wasn't already pumping enough, before making our way back to Hanoi after a 'dawn-til-dusk' schedule of learning, exploration and physical work.



All in all, it was a highly rewarding experience where the students gained an insight into the hard work the keepers put in every day. There was admiration for the extent to which these conservation programmes go, to protect these endangered animal species and maintain the rich biodiversity necessary for balanced ecosystems.

Our students were privileged to have such close-up experiences and left feeling empowered to be able to have a positive impact on the world."

See full photo album HERE

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