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Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Park
 
White Back Palm  (Governor's Palm)
This national park is effectively the only significant virgin rain forest left on Phuket. It covers an area of 22 sq kms. on the north of the island, and it is a conservation development centre.

The towering giant trees and the forest canopy are indeed quite spectacular, and the park offers protection to tusked hairy wild boar, malay sun bear (almost disappeared), slow lorises, langurs, porcupines, deer (including the barking deer and the mouse deer), palm civets, monkeys, gibbons, cobras, pythons, monitor lizards, flying foxes, squirrels and many species of birds. It is also the home of the rare White Back Palm (or Governor's Palm).

The three highest peaks of this reserve are the Khao Prathiu (384 m), Khao Bang Pae (388 m) and Khao Phara (422 m).

One of the attractions is the small but beautiful Nam Tok Ton Sai waterfall, near the Park HQ. The reserve has several forest trails for hiking and guides can be hired from the reserve office near Ton Sai waterfall. In particular there is an eight kilometer trek (heading north-east) to the Bang Pae waterfall, which although small and modest, is Phuket's largest waterfall. There is also a small museum and information centre, and a floating restaurant in the mangroves.

To get to the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, head north for about 22 kms from Phuket City towards the airport on Thepkasattri Road (route 402), and past the Heroine's Monument until you reach the main intersection at Thalang town. Then turn right, heading east. You will pass through 6km of rubber plantations before reaching the Forestry Department checkpoint.

The Bang Pae waterfall, on the east of the Park, can be reached by taking route 4027 east (Paklok Road) at the Heroine's Monument. Then proceed for about 9 km, and the entrance is on the left next to an elephant trekking camp.

Bang Pae is also the home of the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre - an NGO run project which adopts gibbons in captivity and returns them to the wild. The centre is close to Bang Pae waterfall. See below.


Khao Phra Thaeo National Park map

Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre
 
The Gibbon Rehabilitation project tries to rehabilitate abandoned pet gibbons to the wild. It is located in the eastern part of Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, near Bang Pae Waterfall.

The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) is a research division of the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand (WAR). It was established in 1992 by Khun Noppadol Preuksawan, the chief of the Royal Forest Department in Phuket, and the Asian Wildlife Fund, with support from WAR.

Gibbons are quite adorable and cuddly when young, and they make nice household pets.

They also make good tourist photo opportunities.

However at the age of five or six years old, they become sexually mature and aggressive, and their sharp canine teeth can inflict quite severe injuries. Sadly they are then killed or abandoned.

And just as sad, is how they get to be pets in the first place. Unfortunately in some of the more remote parts of the country there is some illegal poaching of wild baby gibbons, which are then sold as pets. This often involves killing the fiercely protective mother, and in some cases the mother is shot, high up in the forest canopy, and she falls dead to the ground still clutching her live offspring.

The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project mainly aims to develop a method of rehabilitating white-handed gibbons back into their natural home, while ending the demand for the illegal use of gibbons as tourist attractions and pets.
phuket gibbon
Due to domestic and international demand on the black market, the violation of these animals continues in Thailand. This is despite the imposition of penalties of a maximum 4 years imprisonment or fine of no more than 40,000 Baht for gibbon holders, hunters and traders without permission, and in spite of all 12 gibbon species being protected by the Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES.

The project is generally maintained and staffed mainly by European volunteers, who also run the free tours of the project.

Being able to return the abandoned gibbons to the wild, is easier said than done. Amongst other things they need to be weaned away from strange diets such as beer and rice, and to gain their strength and agility in the trees.

The project is funded entirely by the generosity of visitors and volunteers, and of course donations (or simply the purchase of T-shirts) are very welcome.

It is a fascinating, interesting and worthwhile visit.

Gibbon Rehabiliation Centre, Bang Pae Waterfall
Pa Khlock, Thalang, Phuket 83110

Open daily 10.00am to 4.00pm
Tel: 076 260491   Fax: 076 260492
Email: gibbon@poboxes.com
Internet: www.gibbonproject.org

Directions:

Take route 4027 east (Paklok Road) at the Heroine's Monument. Then proceed for about 9 km and the entrance can be found on the left next to an elephant trekking camp.


Sirinat Marine National Park
 
sirinat national park phuket
The Park is situated on the north west coast, close to the airport, and was originally opened in 1981 by Royal Decree and was known as Had Nai Yang national Park. In 1992 the Royal Forest Department changed the name in commemoration of the 60th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, to Sirinath Marine National Park.

The boundary encompasses an area of 90 sq kms, of which 68 sq kms is marine and 22 sq kms is terrestrial. The terrestrial aspect essentially covers the coastal beach strip, stretching at least 16 km, with two additional small parcels of land at the southern end (Nai Yang - mainly forest) and at the northern end (Sai Kaew Beach - mainly mangrove - the very northern tip of Phuket). The beach area includes Nai Yang beach, Mai Khao beach and Sai Kaew beach.

The National Park office is at Hat Nai Yang. The Park is perhaps most well known as a nesting site for turtles laying their eggs at Mai Khao beach and the northern end of the adjacent Nai Yang beach.

There are two types of forest in the Park:-

Beach Forest is dominated by Casunira pines, and is characteristic of the more exposed beachfronts around the coast of Thailand. Due to the severe water stress, the tree density and species diversity is low compared to other forest types. The trees stabilize beach deposits.
As stated, the principle tree species is the Common Ironwood (Casuarina equisetifolia). Other species include: Tulip tree (Thespesia populnea), Tropical almond (Terminalia catappa), White Barringtonia (Barringtonia asiatica), Cajeput tree (Melaleuca leucadendra), Alexandrian laurel (Calophyllum inophyllum), Screwpine (Pandanus odoratissima), Asoka tree (Saraca indica), Black Poum (Eugenia cumini), Dillenia indica and Convolvulus (Ipomoea sp.)
The bird fauna is moderate. They include common mynar, spotted dove, greater racket-tailed drongo, Asian fairy bluebird, magpie robin and blacknaped oriole. The noisy marine cicades insects can be heard calling in the trees.

The Mangrove evergreen forest is restricted to the area where freshwater and seawater mix - it cannot survive in either pure freshwater or pure seawater. The mangrove area is small yet it is unspoilt. Mangrove forest preservation is important as their root system prevents erosion of mudflats; they also provide a global sink for carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas).
The Mangroves are home to Monitor lizards, Snakes including the Mangrove snake, Turtles, Shrimps, Shellfish, Crabs, Fish including Mudskippers, Mullet, Groupers, and Garfish.
The protected forest also entertains many birds including; Collared kingfisher, Roseate tern, Sanderling, Terek sandpiper, Bar-tailed godwit, White-breasted waterhen, Slaty-breasted rail, White-bellied sea-eagle, Brahminy kite and Large-billed crow.
Tree species recorded include; Red mangrove (Rhizophora mucronata), White mangrove (Avicennia officinalis), Olive mangrove (Avicennia marina), Black mangrove (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza), Rhizophora apiculata, Ceriops spp.(Xylocarpus granatum, Xylocarpus moluccensis, Lumnitzera racemosa, Heritiera littoralis, Finlaysonia maritima and Derris trifoliata).
There is a nature trial with signs indicating and explaining the various species.

The marine environment is quite diverse. The coral reefs are pristine and are found at depths of 4 to 6 meters, at a distance of approximately 800 meters from the shoreline, especially at Nai Yang. Marine species include sea fans, soft corals, plate corals, tree corals and sea anemones.

Park Administration address:
89/1 Moo 1, Ban Nai Yang, Sakhu Sub-district, Amphur Thalang, Phuket 83140
Tel: 076 328226 & 076 327152   Fax: 076 327152   E-mail: reserve@dnp.go.th

sirinat national park
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