Garden with a higher purpose

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Thot Not District, like other places in Can Tho City, is lush green with vast rice fields and orchards that give out tasty, succulent fruit.

However, it is also known for a very special garden that virtually created itself. It belongs to Nguyen Ngoc Thuyen, resident of Thoi Thuan Commune's Thoi An Hamlet.

For reasons known only to themselves, in the early 1980s quite a few storks decided to make the rice field, surrounded by bamboo, nipa palms and other trees, their home. This influenced other birds to follow suit. In 1994, there was a major surge as more cranes and birds made this field their sanctuary. This was hard on the trees and they started dying, gradually.

Showing great presence of mind, Thuyen and his family decided to give up rice cultivation and dug ponds to raise fish as feed for the storks and planted trees for them to nest in. This revitalized the bird sanctuary and the Bang Lang Stork Garden came into being.

The stork garden is about 45km from Can Tho and 5km from Thot Not Town, which lies between Can Tho City and An Giang Province's Long Xuyen Town.

Bang Lang Stork Garden is one of the biggest bird sanctuaries in the Mekong Delta. It has an eight-meter watchtower for visitors to see more than 10 species of stocks and other birds. Of the stork species, the smallest weighs 150 grams and the biggest up to 1.2 kilos.

Visitors to the stork garden have the added advantage of meeting up with the family and understand more about storks and their living habits. Storks feed in pairs or groups all year round. Females lay eggs four times a year and usually lay four eggs at one egg per day in their breeding season. They hatch the eggs after 17 days. Baby storks can fly five weeks after hatching and reach maturity when they are six months old.

Thuyen says he gives the storks in his garden extra food every day during the dry season when natural foods become rare.

Visiting the Bang Lang Stork Garden at dawn or during sunset is a particularly enjoyable experience, listening to the songs of the birds and soaking in the beauty of the lush surroundings bathed in the soft hues of the rising and setting sun.

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