May 17, 2019

They Said Yes

How People in Vietnam Agreed to Help a Critically-Endangered Monkey


Yes,” said Van Canh Chuong, Denver Zoo’s Lead Stove Ambassador from Vietnam. Five years ago, he agreed to try a new way of cooking inside his traditional wooden stilt home in Northern Vietnam. Why? He wanted to help save the critically endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, found in a protected forestvirtually in his own backyard. 

With fewer than 250 left on the entire planet, Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys are dependent on people like Mr. Canh for their survival. The primary threat to these monkeys is human use of natural resources, especially large trees, which they use not only for food, but also while traveling and resting in the forest canopy. People living in this part of Vietnam also depend heavily on forest timber, both as a source of fuel for cooking and to build their homes. 

Given that one of the most significant threats to the few remaining Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys is small-scale timber harvest by local people, urgent action is needed. Denver Zoo in close partnership with New Nature Foundation (NNF), works with communities in Northern Vietnam to create a solution. Our goal is to reduce the number of trees removed from the forest, in order to protect the forest and the monkeys, yet still provide a source of fuel for the community.  

The solution? A fuel-efficient stove! The fuel-efficiency project, directed by NNF and managed by Denver Zoo Vietnam Program Manager Luu Tuong Bach, introduced an adaptation of the Winiarski Rocket stove that requires less than half as much wood as a traditional stove.   

Yet, this innovative solution was only effective if people like Mr. Canh said yes.  

Today, Mr. Canh takes his enthusiasm and leadership into his community to train other Stove Ambassadors and encourage neighbors to switch to a fuel-efficient stoves. Stove Ambassadors advise local families in proper stove construction, use and maintenance. This grassroots approach, combined with the fact that stove material costs are very low (less than $5), ensures that the stoves and construction skills will remain embedded in the community for the foreseeable future. With more than 450 stoves in operation, 15% of local households have embraced open hearth alternatives for cooking and efficient stove use is saving over 2,000 tons of timber each year. 

They said yes, and together the community has helped to protect the critically endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. 

Are you ready to say yes? Denver Zoo is asking you to help protect wildlife in your backyard by taking action today. Just like people in Vietnam who reduce their energy consumption, we ask you to say yes and reduce your energy consumption by doing the following: 

  • Take alternative modes of transportation 
  • Turn your thermostat down 1 degree  
  • Switch to incandescent light bulbs to LED bulbs 
  • Turn off the lights 
  • Recycle!  

Learn more about Denver Zoo’s Vietnam conservation program focused on protecting Tonkin’s snub-nosed monkeys and what you can do to help.  

Photos by: Chung Van Thanh and Le Van Dung


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