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Archive for July, 2014

Revisit: Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

Friday, July 25, 2014 posted by Bruce 2:03 PM

Some old camera trap shots of wildlife in Southern Thailand

Limestone karst mountains at sunset

Limestone ‘karst’ mountains at sunset in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary.

In 2009, I decided to go down south to a wildlife sanctuary that was still teaming with animals common to the wet tropical forests found here. Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Surat Thani province is some 500 miles from Bangkok and is one of the top protected areas in the country.

Khlong Saeng flooded forest

Flooded forest near the headwaters deep in Khlong Saeng.

Once upon a time, this forest was a magnificent natural watershed that provided water throughout the year to the inhabitants of the lowlands on the eastern side of the Thai peninsula.

Clouded Leopard in Khlong Saeng

Clouded leopard at the entrance to a limestone cave probably searching for dead bats.

It still harbors some very impressive animals such as elephant, gaur, tapir, serow, sambar, clouded leopard, sun bear, Great Argus (second largest of the pheasant family in Thailand), and the mighty king cobra to name just a few – and the list goes on.

Serow in Khlong Saeng

A serow (goat-antelope) at the same cave.

Probably the most impressive scenic site in the sanctuary are the massive limestone ‘karst’ formations that were formed sometime during the mid to late Permian over 200 million years ago. Thailand was part of Gondwanaland that was still attached to Pangaea, the ‘Supercontinent’.

Serow in Khlong Saeng

A serow at another location at the top of a limestone ‘karst’ mountain.

These colossal outcrops, some reaching as high as 960 meters (3,150 feet), look almost ‘architectural’ in design. These configurations were thrust up when India crashed into the Asian plate some 60 million years ago, and are the remnants of a prehistoric coral reef that once thrived here.

Asian Tapir in Khlong Saeng

An old tapir up near a cave at the top of a limestone massif.

But in the mid-1980s, a drastic change to the Pasaeng River was to come about. To increase Thailand’s electrical power needs, and back when building hydroelectric dams was in vogue, it was decided by the Electrical Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), a state enterprise, and the government, to construct the Rajaprabha Dam that eventually inundated a total of 165 square kilometers (65 sq. miles) of the Khlong Saeng valley to become the Chiew Larn reservoir in 1986.

Young Asian tapir and mother in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

 A tapir calf with its mother in the forest near the headwaters.

The water body extends into the sanctuary for more than 50 kilometers (30 miles) but is only about two kilometers at its widest point. As the reservoir filled up, thousands and thousands of trees and animals perished in the rising waters. It was destruction of a natural habitat in the name of modernization.

Tapir in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

A tapir with clipped ears; probably nipped by a mature female chasing the young one out.

Awhile back, my friend Greg McCann, founder of ‘Habitat ID,’ a NGO setup to investigate forests in Southeast Asia contacted me. He was interested in starting a camera trap program somewhere in Thailand and Khlong Saeng was chosen as the first forest to see what is still thriving there.

Gaur 2 in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

A gaur calf on the trail up on a limestone mountain.

We have just returned from the sanctuary where eight cameras including one DSLR (Nikon D90), a Sony W55 ‘home brew’ and six Bushnell Trophy Cams were set-up in some of the areas where I previously captured some amazing animals.

Gaur bull Khlong Saeng

A very old bull gaur with its hooves in poor condition…!

We will let these cams soak for two-three months and I will be going back then to see what has transpired. It should be interesting…!

Gaur 1 in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

A couple of young gaur in the mountainous forest.

When I first began visiting the area, I took my boat-blind (kayak with pontoons and electric trolling motor as a stable shooting platform) to navigate the waters and shoreline.

Gaur 3 in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

Another young gaur on a trail up in the limestone mountains.

Over the course of two years, I was able to get some really neat images of the wildlife that had adapted to the new environment. I also began a camera trap program to see what cryptic animals were thriving up in the evergreen forest.

Sambar stag in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

A mature sambar stag on a trail in the forest.

Muntjac male in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

A mature male muntjac (barking deer) on a wildlife trail.

muntjac with spots in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

A female muntjac with white spots along the spine and rear torso: a strange anomaly…!

Stump-tailed Macaque in Khlong Saeng

A stump-tail macaque (monkey) up in the limestone crags with its jowls full of food.

Great Argus pheasant in Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary

An Argus pheasant at the mouth of a cave.

This gallery of shots is just some of the creatures collected over a two-year period (2009-2010). Some of these images are not the greatest but do show the biodiversity of this amazing place. I plan on setting up several DSLRs at these old camera trap locations and will post any new images down the road. Enjoy…!

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Sony P41 trail cam catches Asian wildlife

Thursday, July 10, 2014 posted by Bruce 12:42 PM

Leopard, bear, elephant and other rare creatures caught by a home brew ‘point and shoot’ camera trap

Black leopard in Husi Kha Khaeng WS

A black-phase leopard.

As I was in the forest checking my DSLRs last month, this little area where I park my truck looked like it might be promising and most likely used by some cryptic wildlife. I decided to setup my old Sony P41/BF board/Pelican 1040 with two ‘C’ cell externals (built for me by Dave, the old owner of

Yellow-phase leopard in Husi Kha Khaeng WS

A yellow-phase male leopard.

Black bear in Huai Kha Khaeng WS

An Asian black bear.

The cam is encased in an ‘elephant proof’ box attached to a tree and locked down with a Python cable. I’ve had this cam since 2008 and it’s still working very well. I usually carry a few of my old ‘point-n-shoots’ in the truck in case I need to survey a new trail or location like this.

muntjac doe in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary

A female muntjac (barking deer).

Green peafowl in Huai Kha Khaeng WS

A green peafowl.

A couple weeks later, I was back and found a whole slew of animals had come by. A black leopard was the first through followed by a yellow-phase leopard, a muntjac (barking deer) and then a black bear. Other creatures that also came were green peafowl, elephant, large Indian civet, porcupine, several smaller civets and finally the tail end shot of a leopard again in daytime.

Elephant in Huai Kha Khaeng WS


An Asian elephant – some strange flare.

Even though some of these photos are not the best, they are a good indication of what passes through. I previously got a tiger 50 meters from here. I have already decided to set-up a DSLR across from this tree and worked out where the flash and sensor positions would go…it looks very promising….I just gotta get back there…to be continued…!

Large Indian civet in Huai Kha Khaeng WS

A large Indian civet.

Asian porcupine in Huai Kha Khaeng WS

An Asian porcupine.

Yellow-phase leopard in Huai Kha Khaeng WS

The tail-end of a leopard.


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Canon 400D/Nikon 50mm lens captures some big cats…!

Thursday, July 3, 2014 posted by Bruce 10:39 PM

Female tiger plus black and yellow phase leopard pass by the old cam

Tiger in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary

My squinting female tiger – 2nd shot with good flash coverage. Image has been cropped.!

It has taken this Canon 400D quite awhile to capture some good images of the big cats. I have had so many negative issues with this trail cam (sensor, broken glass, full of water, bad cam batteries, leaking case, poor radio triggers for the flash, etc.) and I thought it was jinxed. I then decided to go with hard-wired flashes and sensor and a new case to see if there would be any improvement. I knew that this road in the forest was a good spot as the tree lay-out was perfect for the setup and the cats were walking past out on their hunting forays. Also, found some tiger foot prints further down the road. This set was captured over a three-week period in June-July.

The Canon is still there with fresh batteries for the camera and flashes, and I look forward to visiting this cam at the end of July. Hopefully these cats will be walking this way….Enjoy…!

Tiger in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary

Due to low flash out-put, this image has been heavily manipulated to show her eyes were open on the 1st shot..!

Tiger in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary

Female tiger during the day meaning few people around this location. Note front paw…!

Tiger in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary

Same female: Note rear paw…!

Black leopard in Husi Kha Khaeng WS

A black-phase leopard…!

Asian leopard in Husi Kha Khaeng WS

A yellow=phase leopard in daylight…!

Camera: Canon 400D.

Lens: Nikon 50mm ƒ1.4.

Sensor: SSII.

Flashes: 2 SB-28s and one SB-26 all set to manual mode.

Camera settings: ƒ8 at 1/125 – ISO 400






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