The first month on Cat Ba Island – getting my bearings

If you haven’t yet come across Neahga Leonard’s “Writing for Nature” you’re in for a treat. His essays are beautifully written and full of information covering many subjects,from natural history, ecology, anthropology, geology etc – many different disciplines. He has recently taken on a new job in primate conservation in Vietnam in the Cat Ba Island area in the hopes of protecting the last of the Cat Ba langurs – critically endangered – less than 100 survive. Here in his first post after arriving he sets the scene –

Writing for Nature

My apologies for the long gap between posts, life has been a bit busy.

I recently began a new position in Vietnam, on Cat Ba Island to be specific.  My first impressions are that this is a damp and precipitous landscape.  I have not seen the sun since I arrived in Vietnam on March 4th.  For Cat Ba Island this means a riotous profusion of greenery tempered by the steep terrain and lack of soil.

Where the northern end of the road terminates Where the northern end of the road terminates

This is a land where Ymir’s bones lie close to the surface, broken and weathered, their calcium leaking back into the waters from which these precipitous cliffs rise.  The geology is the first thing that strikes you here.  The cliffs have been weathered by millions of years of rain, the ever-so-slightly acid rainwater eating into the ancient limestone creating a mature karst landscape.  Like bones, coral, and…

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