Being born and growing-up in the western part of Nghe An, Dr. Cao Tien Trung has witnessed the loss of biodiversity resources on his native land. Many animals were countless in the past, now only found in history. He can feel the rapidly declining biodiversity under the pressure of market economy. From 1998, he has been penetrated with an idea of  preserving animals and the view of both species conservation and sustainable economic development.

Dr. Trung promoted the ideas to conserve Saola which was familiar to him from his childhood. The idea of  protecting this species for future generations flashed through his mind. Once he said “The Saola is a symbol of Truong Son mountain range. I am safeguarding Saola, which means I am protecting my country.”

He always thinks that research should be associated with conservation. He raised many questions: How to study this species? What is current situation of its population? ... Trung has developed several Saola research methodologies such as interviews, satellite plot, dung track survey, and band survey

Recently, his team has worked with the Copenhagen museum to test the method of and analysis in the blood of terrestrial leeches to identify wildlife.

Along with research, Saola conservation activities have been gradually implemented. From 2002, he began testing the application of the community-based conservation model through benefit sharing mechanism, meanwhile forming wildlife protection clubs in Pu Huong Nature Reserve based on the model of the Danish hunters applied in Vietnam. The preservation has brought remarkable effectiveness in Saola conservation here

Concerning Saola conservation, with many advantages and many difficulties and challenges, he is happy when the government approved the National Action of Saola conservation. Moreover, the government institutions and NGOs have been sparing no efforts in the conservation of this animal. Moreover, the local community is increasing their awareness of conservation; and the Saola is increasingly known to be a symbol which needs to be protected. However, he still worried that Saola conservation is still facing many challenges, for example the ongoing animal hunting and trapping which threaten this species. Although there has been hard conservation activities but they are not thorough, the legal system on the Saola conservation has little effect.

Day by day, he is trying to find solutions for Saola conservation. He hopes that the idea of building conservation will be participated by the local citizens, and community-based conservation should be seen as a part of community development work. It will become important and sustainable.

Despite the Saola conservation are challenging, Dr. Trung always believes that the Saola will always exist and is a symbol of Truong Son mountain range. The ethnic people here will protect the Saola, as protecting their own sheltering.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. CAO Tien Trung