big game hunting in Vietnam
On my recent visit to Quang Huy bookshop in Ho Chi Minh City I came across a copy of the book Chasses et Faune D’Indochine (Hunting and Wildlife of Indochina) by Henri de Monestrol, published in Saigon by A. Portail in 1952.
According to the inscription, Henri de Monestrol was a hunter in the service of H.M. Bảo Đại, the last emperor of Vietnam. His title is given as Lieutenant louveterie, an old official French title for those responsible for wild animals, which was originally conferred on wolf hunters. Henri de Monestrol dedicated the book to Emperor Bảo Đại.
The book runs to 356 pages. It is quite possibly an expanded version of earlier works by the same author that were published under the same title by the Imprimerie d’Extreme Orient in Hanoi in 1925 (167 pages) and 1931 (132 pages).
The first part of the book covers general information on hunting (equipment and armaments), large quadrupeds (elephant, rhinoceros, ox, gaur, wild ox and kouprey), medium-sized animals (tiger, panthers, bears, tapir, boar and deer), and smaller animals. It also provides a list of many animals of Indochina, hunting regulations, and information on the preparation of trophies and the use of game meat. As a side note, Vietnam’s famous butterfly collector Nguyễn Viết Vui of Phan Thiết, who is now in his 80s, learned how to skin and preserve animals from Henri de Monestrol.
The second part includes a range of stories from life “In the Bush of Annam”, with titles like “memories of hunting and life stories”, “a wounded animal is not a dead animal”, “encounters with panthers” and “a hunt in a village of the northern mountains”.
Most striking—and very, very sad—are the pictures of animals killed by big game hunters in Vietnam.