Kuiburi National Park STORY & PHOTOS: Arut Hoimook & Yolsapol Na Nakorn ENGLISH TRANSCRIPT EDITOR: Richard Campbell
KUIBURI NATIONAL PARK IS A REAL HOME FOR FASCINATING LARGE MAMMAL, ELEPHANTS. It was late afternoon, as I drove south from Hua Hin to the Kuiburi National Park. I had heard that it is home to one of the largest groups of wild elephants within Southeast Asia. There are more than 230 elephants to be found here. Apart from visiting either Africa or India, on a wildlife safari, then Kuiburi National Park is great place to visit when in Thailand, where you can easily see elephants feed a short distance from you. After a one and an half hour drive, I finally made my destination at Baan Ruam Thai. The village is located in a valley near to Tenasserim Mountain; here is where the majestic beauty of nature is met by the warm glowing smiles of the local villagers.
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I met a volunteer guide, May, who was a worker in a pineapple plantation and later became a volunteer guide who takes tourists to see wildlife in the park. She told me that over the years, between 1996-2000 there has been a massive conflict of interests between the Human and the Elephant. In respect of the development of large pineapple plantations and the continued encroachment of natural habitat for the Elephants and the regular crop raiding by the animals. However the problem now appears to have been resolved by a successful project instigated by His Majesty: namely “Conservation and Restoration of Kuiburi Forest”. May and I went to the park by changing from a normal car to a 4WD truck with a young park ranger as our driver. We saw a large elephant herd on the way to Pa-Yang Ranger Station. There were about 14 elephants including calves, just meandering along. In general the oldest females in the herd, called “Matriarchs” will lead the family. Other young female elephants will often assist their mothers with calf care in the herd. Do they like to swim? And how much do they eat? Of course, they spend hours swimming and playing, throwing dust over themselves, in order to protect their skin from small insects and acting as a sunscreen from hot sun. They sometime sucked the water from Park ranger station’s tank during the night, the park ranger said. Elephants consume grass, leaves and may eat up to 300 kg per day, coupled with a high volume of water during the day. The park ranger told us that wildlife researchers and photographers put tiny camera platforms on the trees to study behaviour and identify individual elephants in the park. It is now recognized that the elephant’s behaviour seems to be changed from what it once was.
After we had finished here, we drove a short distance not far from the Ranger Station; here there was a viewing point where you could see more Elephants and Guars. The location was wonderful with wide open expanses of green fields and mountain ranges. Oriental-pied hornbills were on the trees around us and made a lot noise. Oriental pied hornbill is one four-hornbill species in Thailand. Owing to their speed it was not possible to take any photos but we will be back. We waited for a few hours but sadly, there was nothing coming into the feed. The sun was now starting to coming down and Egret birds were flying home. It was time to leave the park. Let the Elephants and other animals spend the night in peace to feed .We hope to see you soon my Elephant friends……………..! GETTING TO KUIBURI NATIONAL PARK Travel by yourself: Drive south of HuaHin along Petchkasem Road (Road No. 4) turn right at Yangchom junction. Go straight ahead for 27 km. to Baan Ruam Thai and then to Park ranger checkpoint. Renting a 4WD truck with a volunteer guide will cost 850 THB. Telephone: 085-2907436 Admission fee will cost 200 THB / person Travel by tour: Adventure-is provides one day package excursion with English speaking guide. For more tour info visit www.adventure-is.com 02 MMAG. / NATURE & WILDLIFE
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