Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) discovered in Vietnam in 1992
Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) discovered in Vietnam in 1992
A new species of gecko (Cyrtodactylus phongnhakebangensis) found in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park
A new species of gecko (Cyrtodactylus phongnhakebangensis) found in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park

The wildlife of Vietnam is rich in flora and fauna as reflected by its unique biodiversity. Rare and endemic antelope-like animal, categorized under the bovine subfamily, was found in 1992, in Bạch Mã National Park. In the 1990s, three other large mammal species, the deer-like Truong Son muntjac, giant muntjac and Pu Hoat muntjac, were also discovered, the first two in the same park.[1][2] Conservation protection and scientific studies of the ecology of Vietnam, particularly in the protected forest areas, have been given priority attention by the Government of Vietnam. Laws were enacted to set up Xuân Thủy Wetland National Park, four UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and Hạ Long Bay and Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Parks; the last two are also designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[1]

The rich diversity of Vietnam's wildlife includes 11,400 species of vascular plants, 1030 species of moss, 310 species of mammals, 296 reptile species, 162 amphibian species, 700 freshwater species of fish and 2000 species of marine fish.[3] There are about 889 species of birds[4] and over 850 species of land mollusks.[5] However, a study by the WWF has reported that nearly 10% of the wildlife in the country is threatened with extinction. Vietnam is placed 16th highest among 152 countries studied in terms of the proportion of its wildlife species found to be in danger.[6]

National parks

Main articles: List of national parks of Vietnam and Protected areas of Vietnam

Landscape of Xuan Thuy National Park
Landscape of Xuan Thuy National Park

While the national reserves cover small areas of scientific significance with restricted access, the national parks also cover wetlands of Ramsar designated areas and BirdLife International inscribed bird areas. The largest of the national parks initially covered were the Cuc Phuong National Park, the Cat Tien National Park, the Con Dao National Park and Con Dao National Park, which to start with, were forest areas cum reserves or prohibited areas. The objective for creating national parks was to allow access to the reserved areas as a part of ecotourism and cultural needs with full attention to the basic approach of conservation of natural environmental resources.[1]

The national parks and reserves, as per present status, (as reported by the national parks of Vietnam) conforming to the topography of the country which cover terrestrial, deltas of rivers, and coastal zones are:[7][8] Five national parks and four reserves in the Mekong Delta;[9] two national parks in the northeastern area;[10] five reserves in the north western area;[11] three parks in the Red River Delta;[12] two parks and one reserve in the North Central Coastal area;[13] two reserves in South Central Coastal area;[14] three parks and one reserve in Central Highlands;[15] one park and one reserve in south eastern area.[16]


The country was once totally covered with forests but over the years due to the war and deforestation and anthropological pressures some areas have lost their biodiversity value.[17] The floral richness of the rain forest habitats comprise a broad range of evergreens.[18] According to the Conservation International List Vietnam is identified as the fifth biodiversity hot spot in the world, on account of its exotic flora and fauna. Between 1997 and 2007, almost 1000 new species have been discovered. However, many areas still remain to be explored, and more species are likely to appear in the future. Natural forests are at higher elevations in the northwest and mangrove swamps are in the coastal areas. Rainforest in the hilly region has wild rhododendrons in the northwest along with dwarf bamboos and numerous types of orchids. The central dry region has pines and the river deltas have mangrove forests. The largest and the most conspicuous find in recent years is of the plant species in the Halong Bay area known as Halong fan palm.[17] The largest species was the gum tree.

Considered one of the world biological diversification centers, the flora estimated is of the order of 12,000 species (veined flora) of which 9,628 have been recorded under 291 families. It includes 1000 endemic species. Trees, which provide timber, are of 1,000 species. Timber plants are 100 species. Commercially usable species are 352 species including 42 listed as precious tree species. Further categorization of the flora relates to 76 aromatic spices, 160 species providing vegetable oils, and also herbal species. Some of the well known herbal species are: ginseng, Coscinium fenestratum, Coptis teeta, Panax vietnamensis, Stephania spp.[19]


Main article: List of mammals of Vietnam

Grey-shanked douc langur at Cuc Phuong Primate Rehabilitation Center
Grey-shanked douc langur at Cuc Phuong Primate Rehabilitation Center

Faunal species noted are accounted as 11,217 species of animals, in Vietnam's hot and humid climate. These are broadly: Indian elephants, bears (black bear and honey bear), Indochinese tigers and Indochinese leopards as well as smaller animals like monkeys (such as snub-nosed monkey), bats, flying squirrels, turtles and otters. Reptiles such as crocodiles, snakes and lizards are also reported.[20][19][18][17] Specifically the faunal species which are endemic to Vietnam are the following.[21] While many variety of animals have become extinct like the Northern Sumatran rhinoceros, the protection of large animals have been addressed. The Vietnamese Javan rhinoceros used to live throughout the region of Vietnam but was declared extinct in 2010 when the last remaining individual was found dead with the horn removed.

There are also 2,470 species of fish, more than 23,000 species of corals and many species of invertebrates recorded in the wildlife of Vietnam.[19]


Main article: List of birds of Vietnam

Left: Anastomus oscitans in Tram Chim National Park, Dong Thap Province, Vietnam. Right: Wetland at Tram Chim National Park

Rare and little known birds have been identified such as the Edward's pheasant which was believed to be extinct, the white-winged wood duck and the white-shouldered ibis. The country lies on the east Asian flyway of Siberian birds and is an important stopover for migratory waders.[17]

According to the BirdLife International records of 2011, the avifauna recorded are of 889 species, which includes 18 endemic species, 44 globally threatened species and 6 introduced species. The globally threatened species are listed under the following three categories, excluding vulnerable category.[4]

The near threatened species listed by IBA are:[4]
The endangered list covers the following species.[4]
Male Edward's pheasant
Male Edward's pheasant
Critically endangered
The list of critically endangered species identified by IBA is given below.[4]
Spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus)
Spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus)


Three views of a shell of the land snail species Leptacme cuongi
Three views of a shell of the land snail species Leptacme cuongi

Marine molluscs

The marine molluscan fauna of Vietnam includes numerous species of chitons, gastropods, tusk shells, cephalopods and bivalves.[22]

Non-marine molluscs

Main article: List of non-marine molluscs of Vietnam

Vietnam's fauna of non-marine molluscs comprises various species of freshwater gastropods, freshwater bivalves and terrestrial gastropods.[22] The terrestrial gastropod fauna is highly diverse and includes more than 850 described land snail and slug species; many species inhabit limestone karst hills.[5]

Threats and conservation

The protected areas in Vietnam have suffered a decline over the past several decades. The reasons adduced to this situation are; the Vietnam war, deforestation, hunting, export of animals under CITES agreement which is generally violated by illegal activity due to inadequate patrolling.[6] Illegal trade in wildlife is flourishing in Vietnam as there is great demand for these animals in China and also within the country. They have commercial value both at home and abroad [17]

Trade in wildlife resources in Vietnam is of considerable value. In respect of faunal species, trade varies between 3,700 and 4,500 tons; the use of faunal species are also for medical purposes, pets, and as food and ornamentation but excludes trade in aquatic species. Insects are also a valuable source of trade with Coleopterus and Lepidoptera species contributing towards a major share. Medicinal plants are also harvested and its trade is of the order of 20,000 tons.[3]

Continuous conservation efforts by the Government of Vietnam have brought more and more areas under protected status. Logging operations have been banned. The conservation efforts are showing positive results with wildlife becoming re-established in many reforested areas. Mangrove forest areas are on the rise due to renewed planting. Fish fauna and crustaceans are proliferating and birds are seen more frequently. As a result of conservation efforts, Siamese crocodile numbers have recovered on account of their reintroduction to ponds within the parks.[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Protected Areas Programme" (pdf). Protected Area Categories. IUCN Organization. 2004. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  2. ^ Ray & Balasingamchow 2010, p. 232.
  3. ^ a b "Report on the Review of Vietnam's Wildlife Trade Policy" (pdf). CITES: Convention on International Trade in EndangeredSpecies of Wild Fauna and Flora. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World Vietnam". Avibase The World Data Base Organization. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  5. ^ a b Raheem, Dinarzarde C.; Backeljau, Thierry; Pearce-Kelly, Paul; Taylor, Harry; Fenn, Jonathan; Sutcharit, Chirasak; Panha, Somsak; von Oheimb, Katharina C. M.; von Oheimb, Parm Viktor; Ikebe, Chiho; Páll-Gergely, Barna; Gargominy, Olivier; Lương, Hào Văn; Phạm, Sáng Văn; Đỗ, Tứ Văn; Đinh, Phòng Thị; Naggs, Manel; Ablett, Jon; Mackenzie Dodds, Jackie; Wade, Christopher M.; Naggs, Fred (2017). An Illustrated Guide to the Land Snails and Slugs of Vietnam. The Natural History Museum, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences & the Zoological Society of London. ISBN 978-0-565-09458-4.
  6. ^ a b "Vietnam Wildlife Found threatened". Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Vietnam: Wildlife Sanctuaries & National Parks". Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  8. ^ "National Parks". Vietnam National Parks. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  9. ^ "National Parks & Nature Reserves in Mekong Delta". Official website of Vietnam National Parks organization. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  10. ^ "National Parks & Nature Reserves in North Eastern Area". Official website of Vietnam National Parks organization. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  11. ^ "National Parks & Nature Reserves in North Western Area". Official website of Vietnam National Parks organization. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  12. ^ "National Parks & Nature Reserves in Red River Delta". Official website of Vietnam National Parks organization. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  13. ^ "National Parks & Nature Reserves in North Centre Coast". Official website of Vietnam National Parks organization. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  14. ^ "National Parks & Nature Reserves in South Centre Coast". Official website of Vietnam National Parks organization. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  15. ^ "National Parks & Nature Reserves in Centre Highlands". Official website of Vietnam National Parks organization. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  16. ^ "National Parks & Nature Reserves in South Eastern Area". Official website of Vietnam National Parks organization. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Ray & Balasingamchow 2010, pp. 75–77.
  18. ^ a b "Vietnam's Wildlife". Asiacopmasninfo.organization. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  19. ^ a b c "Conservation and Management of Wildlife In Vietnam" (pdf). Official web site of Vietnam Forestry Organization. April 2003. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  20. ^ Joseph (2020-11-17). "Top 7 Most Dangerous Animals in Vietnam: Deadliest Creatures". Journeying The Globe. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  21. ^ "Taxon Information". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  22. ^ a b Nguyên, Thach Ngoc (2005). Shells of Vietnam. ConchBooks. ISBN 3-925919-71-6.