If you should be interested in any kind of Wildlife Conservation, then when next on vacation Phuket, take the scenic drive to the north
eastern part of the island where you'll find the spectacular rainforest
of Khao Phra Taew National Park. The road leading to the park is a scenic wonderland lined with rubber plantations and pineapple fields.
Once inside, it's all jungle with several paths that cross over a small hilly enclave leading you through the thickly forested park and the habitat of wild boars and macaques, all of whom are keen to avoid any human contact. The jungle does, however resound to the constant sound of chirping insects and the whooping calls of indigenous white-handed gibbons. Located within the park are the two waterfalls of Ton Sai and Bang Pae and the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project.
Entrance to the Gibbon Project
To get to the Khao Phra Taew National Park from
Phuket International Airport, you'll need to drive south along highway 402 towards the town of Thalang, located in
the central part of the island. About four kilometres, just over two miles east of the intersection you will arrive at the visitor's centre of Khao Phra Taew National Park. It's Phuket's primary rain forest reserve.
Phuket Town, drive north along highway 402 towards the airport, then
turn right onto route 4027. Standing on a roundabout is Heroine's Monument.
From there it is about 10 kilometres (6 miles) to the Gibbon Project
Entrance. It is not that hard to find. The Heroine's Monument was
commissioned to commemorate the famous 1785 battle fought against the
Burmese army near Thalang town.
A short walk east of the monument is the Thalang Museum, which houses a few interesting exhibits outlying the rich heritage of Phuket. Items on display include 5th century religious icons, Chinese porcelain, life-size figures recreated from the Burmese Battle, information on the sea gypsies known as chao ley and colourful folkloric history and photos of the masochistic feats of the vegetarian festival.
If you're coming from Patong Beach, drive north along route 4030 towards the town of Thalang then follow directions as indicated above.
Gibbon soon to be released into the Wild
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is an organization wholly
run by a group of volunteers whose primary role it is to re-educate and
re-introduce domesticated lar gibbons back into the forest by
encouraging them to fend for themselves.
Isn't it disheartening
that all over this beautiful planet of ours, there are foolish,
downright loathsome as well as ignorant people keeping animals as
illegal house pets. I refer to these gibbon poachers as pirate primate hostage takers.
No matter what the hostage takers motives are, in many cases gibbons
become severely traumatized by their experience as pets. Not only are
they usually taken forcibly from their mothers, but they are also often
abused by their owners too.
Because gibbons make such charismatic
pets, there are few of these particular primates left in the wild on
Phuket island. The situation had become so dire that in 1992 it became
illegal in Thailand to kill them, sell them or keep them as pets. They
are now considered to be on the ever growing list of endangered species.
Inside the Wildlife Conservation Centre
Despite all efforts to protect gibbons from unscrupulous poachers,
you may come across a number of these pet primates around Phuket. They
are usually kept on chains by their owners around bars, on street
corners and some hotels as a form of immoral entertainment for
thoughtless tourists as an absurd photo opportunity.
Now that I
have made you aware of what's actually happening here to these cuddly creatures, you can help by reporting any sighting you stumble
upon to the
Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. By all means take a photo, then send or email it to the wildlife conservation centre with details as to when, where and what you witnessed. I'm sure the centre will greatly acknowledge your concern. It matters not
whether you come across gibbons in Phuket or anywhere else in
A Playful White-Handed Gibbon
Wildlife Conservation - Rehabilation Program
The entrance fee to the centre for foreigners is 200 baht but any
extra donation would be greatly appreciated as the project receives
nothing, naught, nada, zero, zilch, zip from the National Park itself.
There is a small souvenir shop within the centre selling life-size
cuddly gibbons and other related products. This may just be the right
time to spoil your kids as all the proceeds go to a very good cause. The
centre is open daily from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm. The last tour is at
Visitors are hugely welcome at the project but please remember the whole point of the rehabilitation program is to minimize human contact with the gibbons. You are rarely allowed to admire these creatures from close up so be aware that you may have to view them from afar. There's an exhibition where volunteers will fill you in with a detailed study of the idiosyncratic habits of these gorgeous primates. This will enable you to better understand the aims of the project.
Souvenir Shop at the Wildlife Conservation Centre
Wildlife Conservation - The Falls
If you follow the track right along the river from the Gibbon
Rehabilitation Project on the eastern fringe of the national park,
you'll soon arrive at Bang Pae Falls, a popular picnic and bathing spot. It is only about a fifteen minute walk away.
If you still have the energy to continue along the track you'll eventually arrive at Ton Sai Falls.
It is however at least a one and a half hour walk away so if the
tropical heat is a problem for you, you may want to give this one a miss
as. I do believe that the climb, though fairly steep in places
with rough underfoot spots, is not that difficult a climb. There is however plenty of places to cool off in the river on route. Ton Sai is
said to be the prettier of the two waterfalls.
Please, no Shouting or Singing
Let Gibbons Roam Free
If you ever come across a gibbon chained up such as the one in the photo below, please be sure to note what you saw and then report it to the right authorities. You have your freedom so why should these gibbons not have their freedom too.
Report the Abduction of Gibbons
You may also like to visit these National Parks
Doi Inthanon encompasses the highest mountain peaks in Thailand and has several types of fauna and flora, waterfalls and a wide range of animal life such as leopard, Pangolin and flying squirrels. There are several bird species such as hawk, eagle and Eurasian woodcock. Read More...
Khao Sam Roi Yot is a small coastal park located on the narrowest part of the Thai peninsular overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. Its interior is home to animals such as monitor lizards and macaque while the wetlands provide a sanctuary for migratory birds from Siberia. Read More...
Khao Yai is the oldest park in Thailand. It's a mix of evergreen and deciduous tree forest with grasslands and scrub as its secondary growth. Wildlife roam its interior, including endangered species such as elephants, tigers, leopards, white-handed gibbons and sambar stags. Read More...
Khao Sok is the largest and most dramatic tract of virgin rain forest in southern Thailand. The peaks rise to spectacular heights while the forest helps protect the population of elephants, bison, jungle cats, wild dogs and other endangered animals as well as many bird species. Read More...
Khao Lak stretches across several scenic strips of sandy upper Andaman coastline. The region is particularly famous for its spectacular scenery of steep rain forested ridges that extend down to the winding coast. An elephant trek to one of the waterfalls is a must. Read More...
Ang Thong is a small group of islands spread over part of the Gulf of Thailand west of Ko Samui. The region is popular for its beautiful beaches, limestone caves and abundant wildlife. Canoeing and snorkeling are a major attraction here. Read More...
Ko Tarutao is an archipelago near the islands of Langkawi in the Andaman Sea. Its diving sites considered to be among the best in the world. There's a rich concentration of tropical fish and sightings of whales as well as dugongs and dolphins are a common sight. Read More...
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