Dangers from Animals in Parks?

19 May 2014 07:43 #2000 by NN
NN created the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
I've been reading that Sun Bear and Black Bears are aggressive. Also there elephants killed a woman in KK earlier in the year.

On the edge of the park there are tracks that I've followed and found elephant dung, locals have told me there are bears in the area.

I like to go wandering off main tracks. How dangerous is this and are there any guidelines to make it safer?

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19 May 2014 13:45 #2001 by jonathanbkk
jonathanbkk replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
Hi NN

The first and most important guideline to jungle trekking is not to go alone and ensure you bring with you a very dependable Garmin GPS with extra batteries.

Most parks have rangers that will go with you for anywhere from free to 500 baht and they are usually a wealth of information and provide safety (depending on the park some will even carry guns and give instructions in the case of animals etc).

I would suggest staying on trails that are listed in the park maps(this site is a wealth of information on great trails), animal made trails on the edges of parks are often confusing and it can very well lead you to be lost quite quickly.

As for the animals, if your on trails long enough you will eventually run into them. Here are a few things I would say or suggest:

-I carry a USA made bear spray which they say is good for 20 meters distance (havent had to use it yet)

-If you see Elephants on trail, immediately turn and walk away from them. It seems the ones who stick around for a photo shot or an opportunity for a better look often can lead to issues. Look for options for going up or downhill during your exit. Also remember that when an elephant walks, its feet make little or no sound, mostly what your listening for is the movement of brush/trees

-For bears, same applies as above, walk away at a relative pace(not running), usually they wont be interested in you or will run away from you

-For guar, well seems you wont have a ton of time to react as they seem to be so stealthy until alarmed and heard a few stories of broken ribs from a startled guar hit and run

-For snakes, its best to have high boots if possible along with long pants (leech socks as well). This will also keep out the ticks and leeches which are often frequently found on park trails. Although I have never seen one, I have heard mother cobras are quite protective when on their leaf nest, dont stick around these if you see or hear them obviously.

I am sure I have missed a few things the other members can chime in on :)
The following user(s) said Thank You: NN

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19 May 2014 16:35 #2003 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
Getting lost is often more an issue than the 'dangerous' animals you might encounter, so Jonathan's advice is wise, even though I don't always stick to it myself.
I love exploring new areas, wildlife tracks but honestly I believe chances to see wildlife on established tracks are higher. Often there is less leaf litter on the official trails. So you walk much more quietly.
When you hike Off trail elephants or bears will likely hear you coming before you notice them.
If you do go on your own, make sure somebody knows more or less where you are going. And a GPS will ensure that you know where you are going. As backup bring a compass.

Keep your distance is indeed the best advice. I have followed Jonathan's advice and picked up pepperspray on a night market. For sure not the quality Jonathan is talking about, but well, it makes my wife feel more comfortable when I carry it. And I guess it would help if you get actually attacked by a bear.

Watch where you step or which branch you grab. Even though I consider the green tree vipers as not aggressive, they will certainly bite when you grab them by accident. And so will a snake you step on. But I think the chances are very slim. But if you are unlucky and on your own, then it will likely end up extremely bad for you... Recently somebody posted a link to a webpage explaining what to do in such an event, very useful information that could save your life!

Other than that, just be careful, use common sense, and enjoy!

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20 May 2014 23:07 #2005 by NN
NN replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
Thanks for the helpful replies.

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11 Jun 2014 20:20 - 11 Jun 2014 20:20 #2034 by admin
admin replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
For anyone who has not see this yet .......... Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary. Loei.

Not Advisable IMHO

I am firmly sticking to my "avoidance philosophy"

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12 Jun 2014 21:23 - 12 Jun 2014 21:24 #2035 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
Unbelievable how relaxed this man remains during this charge. I have had my own close encounter (not this close, but still way too close and I happened to be cornered) but it took me a while to get over the enormous adrenaline rush. I was certainly not as cool as him!
During the whole video the elephant has his ears pointed at the man. It did not exactly come as a surprise.
Though, I do get the feeling that this was not the first time this man has encountered wild elephants.
I guess that 9 out of 10 times standing your ground would work, but I see no need for doing so. The elephant wants you to get out of his comfort-zone, so by running away you give him space. It is not a tiger or other predator, for which running could trigger their predatory instincts.

Elephants are very dangerous, but I think conflict is usually easy to avoid. I think bears are the most fearsome mammals in these jungles. Even though from my experience they tend to not care about your presence, or move away, still I believe they could just as well be fearless and go after you. Not sure if standing your ground would help. Climbing a tree won't either... Still I feel safer in the Thai jungles than on a Thai highway.

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13 Jun 2014 08:33 #2036 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?

onflipflops wrote: Unbelievable how relaxed this man remains during this charge........Though, I do get the feeling that this was not the first time this man has encountered wild elephants.


That was my assumption as well but reading the Thai press translations they are saying "tourist". If you watch closely, the lifting of his arm seems to act a final trigger. But this is well out of my knowledge area.

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13 Jun 2014 14:44 #2037 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
He is certainly dressed like a tourist. I might be wrong, but I think this is not a park on the itinerary of the 'average' tourist. Not that this proves anything. I guess we all know enough Thais that are considered tourists when visiting a national park or wildlife sanctuary, but know the jungle and its wildlife very well.
Tourist with experience or not, he had a lot of luck that this didn't turn bad.
His movement and/ or talking indeed seems to trigger the elephant's reaction.

But let's hope this video will teach others to keep some more distance.

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15 Jun 2014 10:10 #2038 by NN
NN replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
Not sure if brave's the right word for that guy. We had an elephant march up to our car and all froze in fear. He just takes a photo as soon as it backs off, if it was me I'd be looking for a change of underwear.

We stopped at a salt lick by the road in KY and took pics of birds. An hour later we drove past the spot and were surprised to see an elephant. I wonder if it would have made enough noise when approaching to give us time to leave? I've read that as they are not predators you should run, but should stand your ground with bears. I know a ranger who was walking when a bear attacked someone in the group - so it would seem that they can be pretty fearless.

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15 Jun 2014 21:32 #2039 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
Don't expect elephants to make much noise. If they are feeding they can be noisy. But especially when they are just heading somewhere using existing trails, they walk more quietly through the jungle than most people do. And near those saltlicks are often well-worn trails on which they walk as quietly as you walking barefeet on an asfalt road. So always be ready for it. Generally they do give you some time to leave. If you don't, then they might decide to force you to.

Also in your car, it's best to just turn around as soon as you see some on the road heading your way. In Khao Yai driving in reverse can be simply impossible with the heavy traffic on some days. And the KY elephants love to use the road to move around, and even in the bussiest weekends they don't mind to come and show themselves for the visitors. It has got me in quite a few peculiar situations.
Some advice.
Especially if you are driving behind elephants walking away from you, don't stick too close behind their backs. They can't see you and get very agitated. If you are in front of them they usually don't mind you being there, even if you slowly drive ahead of them.
The inexperienced tourists could get you into trouble so one should try to foresee that and in most cases it's better to choose for an early safe departure instead of nice pictures but a crushed car... ;)
You won't believe it but some people have complained with the park authorities when their car was damaged. More or less expecting the rangers to keep the roads elephant-free. And stupid enough, the previous chief ordered the rangers to do so, using loud sirenes and flashing lights on the roof to chase the elehpants back into the forest. It will only make the elephants more afraid of cars, which could cause more serious dangers in the future. Hopefully the new, current chief will be a little smarter.
Still, most elephants in Khao Yai are quite used to cars (but they're very scared of noisy motorbikes) and many remain calm. Often they follow the road and from time to time 'park' themselves with their head in the forest on the side of the road, letting a few cars pass (if the drivers dare). The herds with young calves can be a bit more problematic, but also that depends a lot on the situation. One of my last visits to KY a herd of >10 was at the Pa Tabaek Saltlick and a young German couple on a rental scooter had parked the bike right on the road near the saltlick (even though there is a parking space opposite of the mineral deposit...) and walked while photographing with their tablet to the elephants. They had already been warned twice by a local guide that was at the scene before I arrived telling them to keep their distance and remain on their bike, but they didn't listen. Next thing the elephants got agitated. And then I warned and told them to quickly jump into my car. Luckily they followed my advise. They were lucky the elephants did not start a game of football with their rental scooter. After that the elephants remained very stressed, alarming eachother and they spread out in multiple directions causing more danger for other cars to get caught in the middle.
I told them a bit about the cases of people gotten killed by elephants in Thailand, and when I thought the coast was clear drove them back to their bike. While the guy is on the bike and the woman getting ready I see an elephant coming from the forest right behind them and quickly warned them. It was funny to see how fast she jumped on the back of the bike. They got away safely.

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09 Jul 2014 22:56 #2085 by Bagheera
Bagheera replied the topic: Dangers from Animals in Parks?
I am possibly slightly naive but the only species I dread coming across in the forest are Elephants, I cannot think of anything you could do that might save you if you caught an elephant in a bad mood, everything else I reckon you have a chance however small it may be.

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