Vietnam is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, with a huge variety of distinctive and fascinating wildlife.
Situated at the point where Southeast Asia’s tropical ecosystems meet the temperate ecosystems of mainland Asia, and stretching over 1,650 km from north to south, the country boasts a varied landscape that encompasses cool mountain ecosystems in the Himalayan foothills to the north, tropical forests, striking karst (limestone) peaks and much more besides. This diversity of ecosystems gives rise to a rich variety of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth.
More than 13,200 terrestrial plant species and around 10,000 animal species have been recorded in Vietnam, while over 3,000 aquatic species have been identified within its wetland areas.
The country also has an extremely long coastline extending over 3,260 km and encompassing thousands of islands, including the famous Ha Long Bay – a World Heritage site whose limestone pillars, arches and caves typify Southeast Asia’s striking karst landscapes. Over 20 ecosystem types and more than 11,000 marine species are found in Vietnam’s coastal waters.
Perhaps most striking of all of Vietnam’s natural treasures, however, are its primates.
25 primate species can be found here, of which 11 are critically endangered and five are endemic to Vietnam; several more are found only in Indochina. It is undoubtedly one of the most important countries in the world for primate conservation.
This astonishing biodiversity is coming under intense pressure, however. Its overexploited primary forests are declining and becoming severely fragmented. For many species, including Vietnam’s primates, this means that populations are being pushed into ever smaller and more isolated islands of habitat.
There is an urgent need, therefore, to protect the remaining populations and to work with government partners and civil society to better manage protected areas and other sites of high biodiversity importance.