Posts Tagged ‘thung Yai’

Jewel in The Kingdom – Part Three

Friday, May 28, 2010 posted by Bruce 10:41 AM

Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary

The Ecology

The fauna of Thung Yai includes some 120 mammals, 400 birds, 96 reptiles, 43 amphibians and 113 freshwater fish. Unfortunately, elephant have almost disappeared from the area due to the mining road breaking up migration routes, although passing migrants have been recorded from time to time.

Stream in Thung Yai

There is still a large herd of gaur. However, these ungulates are split up into small groups that prefer to remain in deep cover or ravines during the day. They only come out on to the plains at night. Occasionally, in May and June, after the grassland fires and subsequent first rains, they can be seen during the morning or evening, feeding on the newly sprouted young grass.

Samurai spider

Sambar, common muntjac (barking deer), wild pig and serow are common here. An area in the western part of the sanctuary supports tapir. Fea’s muntjac, a rare deer species similar to barking deer is also found here. With sizeable herds of large prey animals, tiger, leopard and Asian wild dog will survive. Smaller mammals like the leopard cat, civet cat and porcupine are very common and easily seen along the road at night. The bamboo rat is often heard gnawing away underground in bamboo clumps but is seldom seen. Unfortunately, these large rodents are poached by the ethnic tribes people for their meat and are thought to be dwindling in numbers.

There are a quite a few mineral licks in Thung Yai visited by gaur, sambar and barking deer plus many species of birds including the mountain imperial pigeon, pin-tailed pigeon and blue magpie, all of which come to take in minerals. The magpie is often seen perched on the herbivores eating bothersome ticks.

Oakleaf butterfly

Many other bird species live here, including the very rare white-winged duck spotted at a few remote forest lakes. The crested kingfisher and the Oriental darter, also rare, have been seen along a few waterways.

One of the oldest plant species in Thailand, the cycad, can be found in Thung Yai. These beautiful plants were around during the time of the dinosaur and may be seen from the road. Many types of orchid flower here during February and March. One of the most notable is the elephant orchid, which can be found in the interior. Beautiful wild ginger is also found in the grasslands.

The flora and fauna of the sanctuary intermingled includes Sundaic, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Chinese and Sino-Himalayan species, with many not found elsewhere. It is a researcher’s heaven, and some of the Kingdom’s last untamed riverine habitats.

Tokay lizard at Song Tai ranger station

The topography is generally mountainous with a network of many permanent rivers and streams dividing the area into valleys. The principal vegetation types are hill evergreen, dry evergreen, mixed deciduous, dry dipterocarp, savannah forest and grasslands. Red-brown earths and red-yellow podzolic are the predominant soils. A physical feature that is important for wildlife is the presence of mineral deposits or licks. These occur throughout the sanctuary, either wet or dry, and most appear to be located on or around granite intrusions in areas with red-yellow podzolic soil. They may be associated with the massive faults or lines in the intensely folded geology of this area. Small lakes, ponds and swampy areas occur, some seasonable while others are perennial; these are important wildlife habitats. Limestone sinkholes are found; most are about 20 meters across, but some are two kilometers long, 250 meters wide and drop as much as 30 meters in depth.

Wild ginger in the savanna

Caves, just south of Thung Yai, are well-known sites of early hominid occupation, dating back thousands of years. Paleolithic, Mesolithic and neolithic stone tools have been found in the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai valleys. Burial sites from a much later period have also been found here, and in Huai Kha Khaeng to the east. The only Thai presence known in history was sometime between 1590 and 1605 when King Naresuan based his army in Thung Yai to wage war against the Burmese invaders.

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