THUNG YAI & HUAI KHA KHAENG WILDLIFE SANCTUARY World Heritage site
KANCHANABURI, TAK AND UTHAI THANI PROVINCES (Tak)
15o25'05''N 99o13'57''E 622,200 hectares, 160 to 1,830 m (Thung Yai) Dawna Range, Thanon Thongchai Mountain Range and Tanaosri Mountian Range. Highest elevations: hill evergreen forest, with dry semi-evergreen forest slopes down to 600 m. Lower is mixed deciduous and bamboo forest with dry dipterocarp forest on poor or shallow soil. There is riparian evergreen gallery forest too. Thung Yai has a unique large grassland plain and surrounding savannah forest made up of cycads and Phoenix Palm and extensive riparian forests.
Birding Site Guide
The area is 300 km NW of Bangkok and there are several accesses. The first entry is at the headquarters of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, approximately 102 km. from the provincial city along Highway No. 333 (Uthai Thani – Nong Chang). Then take Highway 3438 from Nong Chang – Lan Sak. After turning left at Km. 53-54 and driving along for about 15 km., arriving at the office of Khao Hin Daeng Checkpoint, located on the Huai Thap Salao creek side. From the sanctuary office, drive for 14 km. to the Kapuk Kapiang Ranger Station or 17 km. to the Khao Nang Ram Research Station.
Or enter at the Khao Bandai Ranger Station, which is in the south of Huai Kha Khaeng, approximately 137 km. from the provincial city, along Highway 333, the Uthai Thani - Nong Chang route. Then, turn into Highway 3282, Nong Chang - Ban Rai route, taking about 80 km. Turn left to a laterite road, passing Ban Mai Khlong Aangwa for 30 km. until reaching the Khlong Rayang Border. Go along to Huai Maedi and the Khao Bandai Ranger Station. Visitors can choose forest trekking to the north or the south of the Huai Kha Khaeng Creek. In the rainy season, it is difficult to drive through the entrance due to flooding on the laterite road.
Access to the Thungyai reserve is harder, as the roads are poor. Take the route Thong Pha Phum-Sangkhla Buri near Huai Suea to Khli Ti Village, a distance of 42 km. After that, there is an intersection leading to the Wildlife Sanctuary Headquarters at Huai Song Thai another 40 km.
Fees, Permits & Accommodation: To stay overnight, contact the Wildlife Sanctuary Management Subdivision by writing or in person at least 20 days in advance at/to the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Office, Department of National Park, Wildlife and Flora, Bangkhen, Bangkok. For further information, please contact Tel. 0 2561 4292-3 ext. 765 or Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, P.O. Box 7, Amphoe Lan Sak, Uthai Thani 61160 or Tel. 0 5651 9654. There are 3 permitted points for staying overnight. The first point is in the area of the sanctuary office, including 3 houses with a capacity of 10-30 persons and the training building with a capacity of 80 persons. The second point is at the Cyber Ranger Station, and the third one is at the Huai Mae Di Ranger Station.
ACCESS IN THE SANCTUARY
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary has 3 points through which visitors can tour the area: 1. The area around the reserve headquarters is in Amphoe Lan Sak, 34 kilometres from the district. The area has an exhibition building and the Sup Nakhasathian Memorial. The Khao Hin Daeng walking nature trail is about 4 kilometres long. There is also the Pong Thian viewpoint.
2. The area around the Cyber Forest Protection Unit in Amphoe Huai Khot is the site of the Huai Kha Khaeng Nature and Wildlife Study Centre to be set up by a private organization of Suep Nakhasathian Foundation under the approval of the Royal Forest Department. The centre consists of a study, a nature trail that has direction and information signs, trailside exhibitions, and viewpoints, among others.
3. The area around Huai Mae Di Forest Protection Unit in Amphoe Ban Rai has a nature study walking trail arranged by the National Park purposes.
Thung Yai - Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is a Thai World Heritage site
The vast expanse of Thung Yai-Huai Kha Khaeng forest is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna, it was one of only two evergreen forest refuges during the driest periods of the Pleistocene glaciations and is on the crossroads of biota from Himalayan, Cambodia-Malaya, Burma and Cochin-china (Sino-Himalayan, Sundaic, Indo-Burmese, and Indo-Chinese). It also covers a large altitudinal range of 200 to 1,800 m. The forests here connect unbroken with the forest of the long border of Burma, the area being prone to malaria and not suitable for farming has preserved it well. Threats however exist with much poaching and illegal logging despite the 200 permanent well equipped rangers in the area.
The sanctuaries are strongholds for birds such as Green Peafowl, Burmese Peacock-Pheasant and Rufous-necked Hornbill. Important mammals include Water Buffalo, Tiger, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Asian Elephant (see lists below for more species and scientific names).
The local varied topography has helped the ethnic people the Karen. This area of steep mountains is in a monsoon zone the waters forming many limestone caves and sinkholes. The highest peak the 1,830 m Thung Yai, is in the far N of the protected area. The main rivers are Kwai Yai and Kwai Noi, which both are tributaries of the Mae Klong River, which runs through Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi provinces and into the Gulf of Thailand. The mountains affect the monsoon with abundant rains on the W side and the E side having poor rainfall. Forest types include Dry evergreen forest, Mixed deciduous forest, Deciduous dipterocarp forest, Hill evergreen forest and bamboo forest (more on vegetation below).
As well as forest there are the unique huge Thung Yai Grassland (100 square km) which are at around 800 m on shallow topsoil over limestone. The area is covered by both large and small grasslands. The larger areas are named: Thung Yai, Thung Krating, Thung Ruesri and Thung Mongdong. These grasslands dependent on fires to keep out invasion by trees. There are characteristic grassland plants too such as Curcuma Sessilis. Also the palm Phoenix acautiswhich provides fruit and the savannah tree Cycas pectinata, another tree isCycas siamensis.
Other reserves in the western forest, (together with the 2 in this text covering 18,730 square km).
Khao Sanam Preang Wildlife Sanctuary, Khlong Wang Chao National Park, Klong Lan National Park, Mae Wong National Park, Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, Thong Phaphum National Park, Khao Leam National Park, Lam Khlong Ngu National Park, Srinakarin Dam National Park, Sai Yok National Park, Erawan National Park, Salak Phra Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park, Phu Toei National Park.
The dipterocarp forests here are some of the largest in the world, being unique to this part of the world. The types of forest are as follows: in the monsoon climate (W. 1,500mm) and up to 950 m, and where there is a dry season of 3 or 4 months there are dry evergreen forest on deep soils. Drought resistant deciduous species occur on thinner, poorer, more well-drained soils. Deciduous dipterocarp forest is found only in five countries in the world, namely Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Dry evergreen forest. The significant species include Dipterocarpus turbinatus,Vatica harmandiana, Polyalthia viridis, Walsura. trichostemon and Baccaurea ramiflora. They are mixed with deciduous species such as Afzelia xylocarpa andPterocarpus macrocarpus and with ferns, vines and orchids. Bauhinia saccocalyx loses its leaves before flowering prior to the fire season. Dry evergreen forest’s understorey is mainly of Zingiber sp., Alpinia sp. and Boesenbergia sp.
Mixed deciduous forest. The significant species include Afzelia xylocarpa,Pterocymbium tinctorium, Lagerstroemia cuspidata and Bombax anceps, etc. They are mixed with various bamboos such as Bambusa bambos andThyrsostachys siamensis. This forest type is open and full of vines.
Deciduous dipterocarp forest. The significant species are Dipterocarpacece families, which include Shorea obtuse, S. siamensis, and Dipterocarpus obtusifolius. These forest have a fairly open canopy allowing light to the ground and it is prone to annual fires.
Hill evergreen forest. Found at elevations up to 1,000 m. The main species are Castanopsis sp. This is a dense, shady evergreen forest. Sapria himalayana a parasitic plant does not photosynthesis, and takes sap from roots of plants such as Tetrastigma leucostaphyllum.
There is also the bamboo forest in the mixed deciduous forest. It is an excellent food source for much wildlife.
SPECIES NOTES There are many regional endemic species and some 34 internationally threatened species.
Now 490 species of birds have been recorded and the reserve is home to 22 species of woodpecker, more than any other park in the world. Special birds of the area include White-winged Wood Duck Cairina scutulata, Green PeafowlPavo muticus, Burmese Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum, Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus Green Cochoa Cochoa viridis. Other birds are the Kalij Pheasant Lophura leucomelanos, Lesser Fish-Eagle Icthyophaga humilis near quiet waters. Collared Falconet Microhierax caerulescens, the resident Pin-tailed PigeonsTreron apicauda and Thick-billed Pigeons Treron curvirostra and Vernal Hanging Parrots Loriculus vernalis Asian Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi. Six species of hornbill are found here including the Great HornbillBuceros bicornis, Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus, Tickell's brown HornbillAnorrhinus tickelli tickelli and Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris. The previously mentioned Rufous-necked Hornbill and the rare Plain-pouched Hornbill Aceros subruficolis.
Now 153 species of mammals have been recorded which is at least one-third of all mainland Southeast Asia’s known mammals. Special species of the area include Asian Tapirs Tapirus indicus an endangered mammal, Marbled CatPardofelis marmorata and Fea's Muntjac Muntiacus feae,Gaur Bos gaurus, Banteng Bos javanicus, Water BuffaloBubalus arnee (around 50 left), SerowCapricornis sumatraensis and Asian Small-clawed Otter Aonyx cinerea. There are two endemic bats Yenbutra’s roundleaf bat Hipposideros halophyllus and Kitti’s hog-nosed bat Craseonycteis thonglongyai, the world’s smallest mammal. Other mammals include Sumatran Rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Wild boars Sus scrofa are common and are prey to the endangered Leopard Panthera pardus, Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa, and Tiger Panthera tigris. The Slow Loris Nycticebus coucang is declining due to heavy hunting pressure. Sambar Deer Cervus unicolor is the largest deer in Thailand. The Red Muntjac Muntiacus muntjak is found in evergreen forests and open grasslands. The Three-striped Palm Civet Arctogalidia trivirgata is nocturnal inhabitant of evergreen forest. Dhole, Cuon alpinus, Common GibbonHylobates lar , Smooth-coated Otter Lutra perspicillata, Long-tailed MacaqueMacaca fascicularis, Stump-tailed Macaque Macaca arctoides, Assam MacaqueMacaca assamensis, Crab-eating Macaque Macaca fascicularis, Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta, Southern Pig-tailed Macaque Macaca nemestrina, Silvered Leaf Monkey Trachypithecus cristata, Phayre’s Leaf-monkeyTrachypithecus phayrei.
Now 96 species of reptiles have been recorded. Endemics to this region include the Arrow-tailed four-clawed Gecko Gehyra angusticaudata, the Kanburi Pit Viper Trimeresurus kanburiensis and the Striped Giant Soft-shelled TurtleChitra chitra which is the world’s largest soft-shelled turtle. Other species include the burrowing Common Butterfly Lizard Leiolepis belliana, Malayan Pit Viper Calloselasma rhodostama and Common Indian Monitor Varanus bengalensis.
Now 43 species of amphibians have been recorded. Twin-spotted treefrog (Rhacophorus bipunctatus), Giant Asian River Frog Limnonectes blythii, Asian Giant Toad Phrynoidis asper.
Now 188 species of fishes have been recorded.
A wild spider Lycosa sp. hold eggs under its body. Mouhotia batesi is a rare beetle in Thailand. The Katydids Pseudophyllus titan are small insects. The Redbreast Paplio alcmenor is a rare insect except in Thung Yai-Hua Kha Khaeng. The ant lion (family Chrysopidae) is an insect hunter.
Fabaceae tree Albizia odoratissima, Mersawa tree Anisoptera cochinchinensis, Dwarf White Bauhinia Bauhinia acuminata, Burmese Blackwood Dalbergia cultrata, Khmer Chheuteal Dipterocarpus alatus, Common Crape MyrtleLagerstroemia calyculata , Queen’s Crape Myrtle Lagerstroemia macrocarpa, TeakTectona grandis, Black Myrobalan Terminalia chebula, plant Terminalia nudiflora, Five-leaved Chaste Tree Vitex peduncularis, Ironwood of Burma Xylia xylocarpa kerii.