Cat Ba Island is the largest island in the UNESCO World Heritage that is known locally as Halong Bay, The Bay of Descending Dragons. Cat Ba is large at around 110 square miles. Fifty percent of the island is given over to the Cat Ba National Park; an astonishing natural resource that contains extremely important species of flora and fauna. The island has a large indigenous population split about 75% on land and 25% in floating villages around the coast. It sits in the Southwestern part of Halong Bay, just about due East of Hai Phong from where ferry services operate. Whilst enjoying your holiday in Vietnam, be sure to take in Halong Bay and whilst doing so, check out Cat Ba Island.
Cat Ba Island is one of the few populated islands of Halong Bay. It maintains a population of 13,000 who live in six different communes, they are, namely: Hien Hao, Gia Luan, Tran Chau, Phu Long, Wuan Dam and Viet Hai. A further 4,000 more inhabitants live in floating fishing villages off the coast. The people are mainly of the Kinh ethnic group. The large majority of the population can be found in Cat Ba town, which is at the southern tip of the island. They make a living from fishing and tourism.
The annual average temperature on the island falls between 23ºC and 24ºC. Whilst rainfall is from 1,700 to 1,800 mm per year. The main part of the rainy season is in July and August. Probably the best time to visit the Cat Ba is between late September and November, when the air temperature is mild and sky is clear. At this time the island has pleasant weather for either enjoying the beaches or walking.
The Cat Ba National Park
The entire centre of the island, representing about 50% of the total land area, is given over to the Cat Ba National Park, administered by Hai Phong. It comprises 67 square miles of land and about 35 square miles of inshore sea. It was established in 1986 by the government of Vietnam. It consists of marine ecosystems, terrestrial forest and mangroves.
The park is truly amazing and contains many indigenous mammals such as Langurs (including the Cat Ba Langur - see below), macaques, civets, wild boar, wild deer and squirrels including The Giant Black Squirrel. A varied bird population has hornbills, various hawks, cuckoos and many other songbirds. There are over a thousand plant species that have been identified including 118 species of tree, such as the amazing mangroves. They have also identified 160 plants that have medicinal values.
The Cat Ba Langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus poliocephalus)
This beautiful golden headed langur is the world’s second most endangered primate, is the most endangered in Vietnam. From an initial population of around 2,700, human intervention, mainly in the form of poaching, saw their numbers drop to just 53 by the year 2000. Then, Münster Zoo and the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP) formed a partnership with various Vietnamese conservation agencies, to create the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project. Thankfully since then, langur poaching has been brought under control. There are now estimated to be about 70 (as of April 2015) individuals in the park. It is a move in the right direction but they still have a long way to go.
Source: Neahga Leonard
There is much to see and do whilst on holiday in Vietnam. a Halong Bay cruise should be one thing not to be missed. Whilst doing so, drop in to Cat Ba Island and see one of the most amazing places in the country.