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September 28, 2021, 6:03 pm

Bird watching and the “bowl of porridge” philosophy

(13:43:16 PM 11/02/2014)
( - More and more foreign travelers flock to Vietnam in their trips to enjoy bird watching in the tropical country with high biodiversity.


Vietnam’s nature is wonderful to discover


Kevin Elsby, a physician in London, several years went to the Mai Po sanctuary in Hong Kong, where he hoped to watch spoon-billed sandpipers, which is “choac mo thia” in Vietnamese--a species marked as endangered in the world’s red book. Scientists believe that less than 100 couples of the birds still exist.


He was disappointed when hearing that the birds did not return there recently.


However, he was told that the sandpipers were discovered in the Xuan Thuy National Park in Nam Dinh province and Ba Tri sea area in Ben Tre province in Vietnam. Some more 7-8 individuals have been seen recently in the Go Cong sea area in the southern province of Tien Giang.


He then decided to fly to Vietnam. He booked a tour with Wildtour, a travel firm, which brought him to Tien Giang.


Kevin was so satisfied with the trip. He could see with his eyes a sandpiper in a paddle and its special bill. He took a lot of photos of the birds which he later shared with friends on his the websites.


Birding is the observation of birds as a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds.


Wildtour is the only Vietnamese travel firm which provides bird watching tours. The other service provider is a foreign invested one set up by the foreign bird watchers.


Wildtour’s manager is Nguyen Hoai Bao, a lecturer of the Biology Faculty of the HCM City University of Natural Sciences.


Being a Vietnamese firm, Wildtour has not received any Vietnamese clients. Vietnamese can spend millions of dong to buy birds and breed them in cages, but they will not spend money just to watch birds in the sky and then return home.


According to Bao, it is very difficult to watch birds in Vietnam, because the birds’ living areas are very far and unreachable to many people.


In order to see some endemic species, travelers have to go to the deep jungles, climb high mountains where very people set foot.


In many cases, travelers could not see the birds they want during the first trips. They had to travel to many areas to look for the birds and needed the support of the sound generation machines.


Especially, the tours are very expensive. One would have to pay tens of millions of dong on a 1-2 day trip, while the expense could be up to hundreds of millions of dong if the trips last a month long.


The “bowl of porridge” philosophy


Wildtour was set up after Bao realized that Vietnam is a potential destination for the bird watchers from all over the world.


Bao said he tries to persuade Vietnamese to protect the nature for the sake of themselves. If Vietnamese catch a bird, they can make a bowl of porridge. But if they don’t catch them and let them live in the wild, they can attract a lot of bird watchers and therefore, can earn the money for a lot of bowls of porridge.


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