The carnage continues

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The death of the last Javan rhinoceros in the Cat Tien National Park, the last one in the country, made headlines in Vietnamese and international media in 2010 and 2011.

It was found shot in the leg and its horn cut off.

It has been wrenching for people who care about the environment and are dedicated to wildlife protection.

And it feels like it happened yesterday.

Now, the crying hearts are shedding tears again as a rare gaur, Bos gaurus, was reported to have been killed and butchered by some 17 people in Cat Tien. Meanwhile, two other men were accused of poaching an endangered douc in the same park. The reports appeared in the local media on October 9.

Even the most optimistic person cannot but feel despair over the survival of endangered wildlife species at one of Vietnam's largest national parks, if not the country. In fact, many species in other national parks are also facing the same dangers, as news reports keep coming in about cases of wildlife killing, torturing, trading and smuggling.

No one will be surprised if one day in the near future, it is reported that the last gaur or the last douc of its kind in Vietnam is dead.

But, the why question still hangs above our heads.

Why has so much funding provided by international organizations to protect local wildlife species, which are the assets not only of Vietnam but humankind as a whole, failed to work?

Why don't Vietnamese care about projects that can create a sustainable living environment benefiting them and future generations?

Why are they running after pennies they earn from restaurants or stupid rich people who love showing off rare animal carcasses?

Why don't Vietnamese feel embarrassed about the fact that while foreign scientists are endlessly trying to protect wildlife here, they are continuously hunted and then served as delicacies or displayed as accessories for those who want to show off their wealth and depravity?

Obviously the answers lie in low awareness and apathy of the Vietnamese people, who are unlikely to change these lethal habits until they are taught and understand that killing wildlife is not only a question of ethics, but also of sustaining our living environment.

But, the answers also have to do with local authorities' mismanagement. A number of projects have recently been planned at national parks, although scientists have continuously called for them to be reconsidered or halted outright.

In July, it was announced that two hydropower dams would be built near Cat Tien, encroaching on some 137 hectares of the park.

Then, authorities in the central province of Quang Binh announced last week that a casino, hotel and tourism complex will be built at Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. The luxury project will eat up more than US$4 billion in investment from a South Korean company.

If this is how we treat our precious, dwindling natural resources by putting the sustainability of our future generations' world at stake there is not much to hope for.

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