The Gaur (scientifically known as Bos gaurus), one of the ten rare animal species found in Cat Tien National Park, needs special protection, said local officials in the central highlands province of Lam Dong.

Deputy chief ranger of the Cat Tien National Park Nguyen Van Minh expressed his concern for the safety of the gaur herd in the park after the death of the last rhino was confirmed on Oct. 25.

The bull’s gall and meat are much sought after in the market which makes it an attractive target of poachers.

Though no wild bull hunting case has been discovered so far, the park’s rangers have seized an average five home-made guns each month from poachers, said Minh, adding that those poachers did not get prosecuted as the law does not stipulate any punishment of the use of home-made guns.

Director of the park Tran Van Thanh also said rangers detect more than 20,000 traps each year, one tenth of which are traps designed for catching big animals like the gaur.

According to Thanh, the park is now home to 3-4 gaur herds with around 100 individuals. After the gaur was spotted in the park, the French embassy and the French Agency for World Environment Protection (FFEM) provided 580,000 EUR to the Cat Tien National Park in 2006 to protect genes of wild animals, especially wild bulls.

To protect forests in general and the rare species in particular, Secretary of the Cat Tien district Party’s Committee Huynh Van Dau emphasised the importance to improve the living conditions of local people. According to him, in addition to some 40 communes bordering the Cat Tien Park, there are up to 18,000 people living inside the core zone and the buffer zone of the park, who still depend on forest products for livelihood. /.