Cuc Phuong National Park is formed from limestone runs from Yunnan (China) pull-down plateau Moc Chau (Son La) run through the series of Pu Luong (Thanh Hoa), Ngoc Son range (Hoa Binh Province) through Cuc Phuong and Tam Diep down to the range (Ninh Binh) and ended up being the isolated at Nga Son’s sea (Thanh Hoa). With a hundred kilometers length of limestone has various Karst terrain types: Karst overlay, half overlay Karst, Karst terrain on the top is Caren. Due to the process of Karst persistence operation through million years in the mountain that formed over hundreds of large caves, thousands of suction holes, and drainage holes.
Cuc Phuong is situated in the monsoon tropical climate region, hot and humidity. At the height above sea level from 140 m to 648 m topography, especially the limestone mountains interspersed with hills and valleys running from the northwest - southeast. Due to the terrain very intense fragmentation created several sub-climate regions, different microclimates. This is the premise of different vegetation formation, making Cuc Phuong biological diversity is very diverse, rich and its own particular character. This is the ideal habitats of plants and animal species, including people from the ancient period.
Cuc Phuong is very diverse in flora species composition structure. With such an area equaling to 0.07 % out of the total area nationwide, it accounts for 57.93 % of flora families, 36.09 % of genetic diversity and 17.27 % of the species as compared with total figures for the country. Cuc Phuong NP has 20,473 ha of forest out of the total land area of 22,200 ha (accounting for 92.2 %). The vegetation cover here is the type of evergreen tropical rainforest. According to Thai Van Trung (1976), Cuc Phuong belongs to the type of closed humid evergreen tropical rainforest. Cuc Phuong has a considerable area of primary forest, mainly focused on the limestone mountain area and at valleys in the centre of the NP. It is the special location that leads to the rich species composition structure of the park. Cuc Phuong contains many non-indigenous plant species established with many indigenous ones. Representation of the indigenous species is those of Lauraceae, Magnoliaceae and Meliaceae families while those species of Dipterocarpaceae family is representative of non-indigenous species from the warmer southern region. Representative of those coming from the north are those of Fagaceae species. Cuc Phuong is an area of significant primary forest, mainly on limestone mountains and valleys in the center of the park. As a special place to hold the rich plant species in Cuc Phuong.
Survey results of recent years (2008) recorded 2,234 species of 917 genera, 231 families. Many of them are of high value: 430 medicinal plant species, 229 edible plant species, 240 species can be used as medicine, dye, 137 species can provide tannin, etc; 13 species are listed in Vietnam Red Data Book 2000 and IUCN Red List 2004. Some outstanding species are Dalbergia tonkinensis; Parashorea chinensis, Erythrophloeum fordii; and Nageia fleyri. There are 11 endemic plant species, including Camellia cucphuongensis; Begonia cucphuongensis; Pistacia cucphuongensis; Amorphophallus dzui; Vietorchis aurea; Carex trongii, etc.
During the investigation survey, scientists discovered two new genus for Vietnam, which are Nyctocalos (Bignoniaceae) and Garrdneria (Loganiaceae). One thing that is special for Cuc Phuong that has discovered a new genus and a new species to science, it is Vietorchis aurea Averyanov (Orchidaceae).
- Vertebrate fauna: Fauna in Cuc Phuong is also abundant and diverse. Research results in 1971 of Le Hien Hao and colleagues gathered the results of the study itself as well as by other authors conducted in 1963 showed that the composition of the vertebrate fauna consists of 28 orders 82 families and 251 species. Since then, Cuc Phuong National Park in conjunction with local and foreign scientists to conduct additional research on the vertebrate fauna in Cuc Phuong, was discovered: 7 orders, 38 families 408 new species in Cuc Phuong. Research results in 2008 shows that Cuc Phuong is the one of the rarely area in Vietnam with high biological diversity.
The vertebrate animal species in Cuc Phuong is rich and diverse, there are 133 species, accounting for 51.35 % of the total nationwide (259 species). For birds, Cuc Phuong NP is assessed by Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area of Vietnam. It has recorded here now 336 species, accounting for 39.25 % of the total bird species nationwide (856 species). For reptiles, Cuc Phuong NP has 76 species, accounting for 26.67 % of the nation’s total figure (296 species). For amphibians, Cuc Phuong NP has 46 species, accounting for 28.39% of the nation’s total figure (162 species). For fish, Cuc Phuong NP has 66 species, accounting for 10.81 % of the nation’s total figure of fresh water fish species (610 species). In total 659 vertebrate species that 85 species have recorded in Vietnam Red Book, some Cuc Phuong endemic species such as Trachipythecus francoisi delacouri, Callosciurus erythraeus cucphuongensis, Tropidophorus cucphuongensis, Rana maosonensis, Pterocryptis cucphuongensis etc.
(Thằn lằn Cúc Phương - Cyrtodactylus cucphuongensis. Photo: Luong Van Hien)
- Invertebrate fauna: The invertebrate fauna in Cuc Phuong is even more abundant and diverse. In the period from 2000-2008, about 7,400 invertebrate animal samples have been collected, including 1,670 species and species types of insect, 14 crustacean species, 18 species and types of species of myriapod, 16 spider-shaped species, 52 species and species types of annelid, 129 species and species types of mollusc, and many other species of lower animal. However, it is due to the fact that the lower animal species did not get much attention and research on these species have been rarely done; the figures mentioned are the preliminary ones only. In reality, the invertebrates in Cuc Phuong are extremely rich and diverse, it is estimated the real figures are much higher.
- Palaeontology: In addition to the relics and fossils of prehistoric animals have been discovered and excavated and published before. Recently, in 2000, a marine animal fossil has been found in Cuc Phuong National Park. Fossils exposed on the suface of limestone rock, it appeared in Dong Giao fomation to Middle Triassic (T2), it is about 200 to 230 million years, including at least 12 intact vertebra, 10 ribs and some others. The fossil has been preliminarily determined Placodontia species (reptiles tooth blade). According to scientists, this is first discovery in Southeast Asia on Placodontia.
- Ethnic: Cuc Phuong National Park is located in the region of 14 communes that include two mainly ethnic groups. Muong ethnic accounted for 76.6% of the total population in the region and Kinh ethnic is accounted for 23.4%. Two ethnic groups have been the oldest community living both in terms of economic and cultural. In recent years, in the process of innovation, market economy has penetrated into the Muong villages that are gradually losing the cultural characteristics. However, there are some villages in remote areas still retaining the customs, festival of Gongs ... that bring imbued Muong’s culture. The values of intangible culture are human resources that are likely to serve to promote eco-tourism development, culture and the humanity in the future.
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