For the Ma ethnic minority in Dak Som Commune in Dak Glong district in Dak Nong province, the forest is just like a god who protects them from disasters.
In the past, the hamlets of Ma people were situated in the Ta Dung Reservoir bed. Since the Dong Nai 3 hydropower plant began storing water, they have had to move to the resettlement area in Dak Blao commune, 30 kilometers away.
However, 30 households still remain in place because they cannot live without the forest. Each household there is in charge of taking care of 30 hectares of forests in the Ta Dung National Park. In their free time, they cultivate coffee and grow crops to increase their income.
KSriu, a local man, told reporters that Ma people in Ta Dung Mount are well aware of their responsibility to the State, so they go to the forests every day, even during rains. They will be punished if deforestation occurs in their protected areas.
They will not be fined by the forest rangers’ unit, but by the village as well. Chicken, ducks, pigs and cows will have to become offerings to the god of the forest.
|For the Ma ethnic minority in Dak Som Commune in Dak Glong district in Dak Nong province, the forest is just like a god who protects them from disasters.|
The Ma old people tell their grandchildren stories about the majestic Ta Dung mountain, the legend of the names of each stream and hill. They tell children that keeping the great forest is a way of protecting the life of the villagers.
According to Khuong Thanh Long, director of the Ta Dung National Park, the national park network comprises Ta Dung mountain and lake and 20,000 hectares of special use forests.
Inside the forest is the stream of Dak Nteng which creates two attractive waterfalls. If standing above and looking down the slopes, one can see the villages of Dak Plao, Dak Rmang and Dak Som communes, where many unique cultural traditions are preserved.
Ta Dung National Park is rich in wood and rare animals, so Ta Dung is a target for illegal poachers. As the number of forest rangerd is limited, they cannot cover all the forests. Some years ago, parts of the forests were assigned to locals to protect.
KPhuong, 36, one of the householders in charge of protecting the forests, said local people have to follow the patrol schedule. Each household has to be on duty three or four times a month. Each trip to the forests lasts several days.
“We bring necessary tools and medicine with ourselves when going to the forests. In daylight, we go on patrol. At night, we stay in tents we set up in the forests,” he said.
“It is terribly cold and we have to light fired to keep warm,” he said.
Many forest rangers in the central province of Quang Binh have quit due to low pay and increased danger.
A joint investigation between police and officials has been carried out into deforestation in Krong Ana District, the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.