× The Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Uthai Thani and Tak Provinces, Thailand. The sanctuary was established in 1974, and is one of the largest and most important protected wildlife areas in Southeast Asia. The wildlife sanctuary was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1991. The protected area is home to a diverse range of animals including large mammals, birds, and reptiles. It is Thailand's premier Wildlife research sanctuary.

Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung

29 Aug 2014 22:20 - 31 Aug 2014 07:51 #2214 by onflipflops
onflipflops created the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
As I mentioned in one of the replies on Jonathan's trip report, I am now reporting live from Huai Kha Khaeng.
This morning arranged to visit the tower known as Haw Ton Peung to apply shade cloth.
It was quite a bit of work, took me a couple of hrs, but it worked out as planned.

I've only done the first level, as I believe for photography it's best to be as low as possible. It will never be fantastic for photography, but anyway.
It's tight up pretty well so not moving much in the wind, it was quite windy today so a good test environment.

It is possible to adapt the opening space by moving the knots of the horizontal ropes up or down along the vertical ropes.
Not sure if this is clear, but you might be able to see what I mean in the images, or otherwise you will see it whenever you get there.





One thing I forgot to bring: lunch... so I got too hungry and had to leave at about 15:30. Green Peafowl showed up in the distance just after I finished applying the shade cloth.
They were on the far side and did not get closer, so I can't tell if they had to get used to it or not, but at least they did not run away ;-) .
Due to the Seub Festival 30 AUG - 01 SEP 2014 we've heard that the superintendent has decided that the towers are not open for any visitors. And maybe it's better that way.
Only the tower near the campground is open, not sure with how many people we will have to share it.
They expect it to get crowded.
I guess I'll be walking the Khao Hin Daeng trail a few times then.

One interesting side note: when we walked back to the car after the visit to Haw Ton Peung tower we found recent tiger pug marks.



We did not see these tracks on the way up, but still I think we just did not pay enough attention. I don't think it walked by while we were at the tower...
It has rained yesterday afternoon, so I think this must have been from either last night or this early morning.
That proves again that this is a very interesting spot. There were also fresh elephant footprints.
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31 Aug 2014 07:44 - 31 Aug 2014 08:29 #2215 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Looking good! Have my fingers crossed for you, hope you get some great shots.

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31 Aug 2014 21:04 #2234 by jonathanbkk
jonathanbkk replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Nice work on the tower! I think it's the only way to go as it's too easy for animals to see you even in a seated position.

Jealous you saw tiger tracks, I looked hard for them without luck. Where on the road did you see them? How did you end up with the drive?

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02 Sep 2014 22:51 - 02 Sep 2014 23:12 #2250 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
The drive to the tower was no problem, all the way till the little 'parking space' in the last curve about 200m before reaching the tower; just before the concrete road reinforcement, everything was fine.
Though we removed the little tree that was on the road at the beginning of the track, near the main road.
We found the pug marks near the concrete road reinforcement.
Today we found more at the Khao Hin Daeng Trail.

Yesterday we went back to the Haw Ton Peung tower for the first time since we have applied the shade cloth. We visited from about 15:30 till 18:00.
Some peafowl were around, and at 16:30 4 Banteng appeared at the sand/ stone river bed just left of the tower. They moved back into the forest after 10 minutes or so.

At about 17:00 a different Banteng herd of 9 including a bull (though not too large) appeared at the far right, and later 4 Sambar joined in.
They have been grazing until (and probably even after) we left at about 18:00.
So seems like the wildlife has no trouble adapting to the shade cloth.
And today we went back again at 15:00. 4 Sambar were already grazing right in front of the tower. They could not see us walk up the stairs and when we took place behind the shade cloth they just continued for half an hour before the rain started and they moved back into the forest. The rain did not stop. The Sambar did came back eventually only this time the herd counted 8 or 9 animals. But we left the tower again just after 18:00.

Today we tested how much difference the shade cloth makes. A peacock was out in the clearing for a long time, just more or less at one spot quite far from the tower, minding its own business. Then we walked up to the second level of the tower which has no shade cloth (I might apply that on a later date, I ran out of rope...) and immediately the peafowl spotted us and flew off. Even at a large distance, they see every move. But it certainly did not notice us behind the shade cloth.
That proved how much difference it made, and how pleasant it is to not have to sit still like a rock whenever something appears.

Here a quick shot of my camera screen showing the 'proof' of the Banteng herd and some Sambar (and there was peafowl somewhere there as well).

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05 Sep 2014 23:55 #2266 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Just an update of my recent trip at HKK.

On our morning drive on 03 SEP 2014, I had an extremely poor, distant and fleeting sighting of a spotted Leopard. Finally! Though not exactly very satisfying :(
It is the fourth wild cat species for me in Thailand, but the poorest sighting. Can hardly count it. It was surprisingly fast while it crossed the road near the little spirit house just after the Haw Nok Yung tower area ( when driving from the HQ in the direction of the park entrance gate.)
No chance for a picture, and the video of my dashboard cam only shows a vague tiny blob moving in the distance. If you don't know it is there you won't even notice it...
So, far from fantastic, but I am glad with the fact that it is possible. And also the stories of quite a few people that have been lucky to see this species without having to visit 100 times, gives me hope for the future that it will cross my path again. But then hopefully allowing me to have a good look and preferably also a picture to proof it , even if it was only a blurry one ;)

A better though also distant sighting was a Hog Badger at the Haw Nok Yung tower, the next morning. Surprisingly, The second one for this year! Saw one in KY 2 months ago. Not exactly a common creature to actually see.

When time allows I will return to apply the shade cloth at the ground floor and first level of the Haw Nok Yung tower, and on the second level of the Haw Ton Peung tower, and at the tower of the Home of the tiger trail.
So still a lot of work to do.

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06 Sep 2014 09:00 #2269 by Bagheera
Bagheera replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Wow! thats awesome flipflops, even a brief 'spotting' of a leopard is just amazing!
I'm sure many will appreciate your work in putting up the shade cloth, certainly will increase the chances of great sightings and photos from those watchtowers. Good work!

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06 Sep 2014 22:46 #2279 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
It is fantastic, only it was really just a flash. Would have loved to get a closer look at these amazing cats. But well, I know I can't complain.
I'll return and hope one day to get a better view. I'm praying to Buddha for a black one, ;-)

We've discussed putting up the shade cloth at the first tower, Haw Nok Yung, and the rangers were very happy if we would do this. At the first tower you can't really get in the tower without scaring off the wildlife. So at this tower I'm also thinking of putting up the cloth from the entrance trail all the way to the stairs. The rangers seem to understand that this will help both the visitors to see more, and it will reduce the chance of the wildlife being spooked.

Not sure if I will be back there any time soon. But whenever I go again I will fix the rest.

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07 Sep 2014 07:24 - 07 Sep 2014 07:29 #2280 by jonathanbkk
jonathanbkk replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Ahhh you always get all the cat good luck :)

I do believe HKK gives the best lottery chance of leopards in Thailand, especially if you believe the rangers and staff and their accounts of frequency of sightings

Sounds like you had a great trip, hoping to plan another soon and be it mid-week

By the way did you camp inside? If you did was there any of the nighttime animal chaos I had?

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07 Sep 2014 22:54 #2284 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
You might be right, though it seems like Leopard is also quite frequently seen in Kaeng Krachan.

Yes, we camped inside the park. I have to say that when I'm asleep I don't wake up easily.
Did hear some alarm calls on two early evenings before I went to sleep, but just a single animal, once a Sambar and once an Eld's deer. And it was only short, they did not really seemed to be in life-threatening situations.
Heard a young elephant one evening. And a day or two later walked passed the Home of the Tiger tower and it was full of elephant tracks. Seemed like a large herd has visited the clearing. Did not see elephants this trip.

Anyway, nothing like you experienced. During the Seub Nakasathien festival it was quite busy with tents so no animals around really. The night after the festival the rangers seemed to have an afterparty. Playing guitar and singing loud while enjoying their whisky, ;) . The only mammal besides the resident deer was a Common Palm Civet. But the nights after, Golden Jackals and Wild Boar visited the campground.

BTW found one cooperative model,a green Oriental Vine Snake. In Khao Yai we don't see green morphs, only white-greyish and yellow-orange morphs. Green is more common in other parts of the country.
It even tried to kiss me... Bit too close for the closest focusing distance, but still I like the shot.



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09 Sep 2014 10:11 #2291 by jonathanbkk
jonathanbkk replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
great shot of the vine and the strike moment. I have a shot somewhere of them from Pang Sida in brown with brilliant eyes

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09 Sep 2014 10:59 #2292 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Thanks Jonathan!
They indeed have amazing eyes with long horizontal pupils. They have good vision because they're daytime hunters. I've only seen them hunting on lizards but according to the books they take birds as well.
I have encountered it too in Pang Sida.
Apparently the green morphs are not found in the East, but I've heard they are the more common variation in other parts of the country.
I found a green one earlier this year at Erawan falls, and now this one in HKK, and both were inside the forest hanging vertically with head down along a tree. I've never really seen that behaviour in Khao Yai. There they are often hanging more horizontally in dense bushes along the road sides especially in the mornings. Some days I've seen three while driving up from the Pak Chong entrance to the first viewpoint, so they are quite common ;). Especially if the night was cool and/ or rainy and the morning is dry and perhaps a little sunny then they're often around. They can be seen year round, also in the cold winter, but usually I see more after at the end of the dry season, and in the wet season.

The Orange-yellow ones are really nice! And often when you get close enough they show the defensive colors, the black and white blocks.
Here the two color variations from Khao Yai.



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12 Sep 2014 07:15 #2298 by Painted Jezebel
Painted Jezebel replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Here, on Samui, we only have the emerald green form. It is interesting to note that none of the specimens I have seen here have any of the black scales shown in the photos above, just being purely green. It is very common here and I see them most days.

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12 Sep 2014 18:44 #2300 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Hi Les,

These are indeed common snakes, at least some of the Ahaetulla species are. The species you have encountered might have been Ahaetulla mycterizans. To my knowledge this specie is often more emerald green. But the A. prasina in my images also occurs in the South, and they are rather similar. There are 4 Ahaetulla species in Thailand.
The black and white blocks are not visible unless they feel threatened. So usually when you catch it or shake the branches or just get too close for their comfort, (depends on the individual) they might decide to go in 'defense-mode' instead of getting away. They inflate/ enlarge their bodies and then the pattern becomes visible. Same as in e.g. Bronzeback snakes (Dendrelaphis sp.) that usually show a striking pattern of blue and black diagonal bands when threatened.

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13 Sep 2014 06:44 #2301 by Painted Jezebel
Painted Jezebel replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Thank you. Why I thought it was A. prasina was the size of specimens I have seen, up to 2m. in length. I did not think that A. mycterizans even approached that size. Perhaps I have both species here!

I have seen them in defensive mode many times, but can not remember any black scaling. Unfortunately, none of my photos show the species in the threatened position.

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13 Sep 2014 13:35 #2302 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Hi Les,

The books indeed say A. prasina gets longer. Next time try to catch it ;) and check if it has a divided or entire anal scale, that's supposed to be different. Divided for A. prasina, entire for A. mycterizans; if my books are correct.
Interesting that the black dots haven't been showing to you. Not every snake puts on much of a show, but since you've said you have seen them often at least one of them should have showed it to you. Perhaps the Koh Samui population is different? Interesting.
Other differences are:
A. mycterizans
- distance between eye and snout tip less than double of the (horizontal) eye diameter
- 186 - 195 ventral scales (belly scales)
- 7 - 8 supralabials (upper lip scales)
- first and 2nd supralabial in contact with nasal
- Total length about 100cm
- Entire anal scale

A. prasina
- distance between eye and snout tip double or more than double of the eye diameter.
- 194 - 235 ventral scales
- 9 supralabials (upper lip scales)
- first supralabial in contact with nasal
- Total length <200cm
- Divided anal scale

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16 Sep 2014 08:02 #2306 by Painted Jezebel
Painted Jezebel replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Thank you for providing the differences. I do have a photo of the head, from which one can measure the distance of eye-snout, and this is more than double. Also, as I said earlier, I have come across specimens much longer than 100cm.

The other differences will be harder to ascertain as I prefer to leave snakes to their own affairs! ;) .
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16 Sep 2014 10:50 #2312 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
I agree with you this is A. prasina.
From what I've read the A. mycterizans is not as easily encountered as A. prasina in most areas.

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10 Oct 2014 14:27 #2365 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Just to update on the 'blinding' project.
We just returned from another visit to HKK.
It turned out that applying the blinding material at the first level of the Haw Ton Peung tower was a succesful project that allowed more freedom of movement for the visitors, and the wildlife seemed to be more relaxed.
So we went back to do some more.
We started with the second level of the same tower, because this level offers just a bit of a better view into the river bed.
2 days later we filmed & photographed about 15 Green Peafowl quite close to the tower. These birds are usually very skittish, but with the help of the shade material they are more relaxed.

Next we did the first tower, Haw Nok Yung. The local ranger was happy with this. He had initially applied small pieces of shade cloth, but these were moving in the wind and therefore not that helpful, though the wildlife near this tower seems to be just a bit more used to seeing people.
Anyways, we applied the same material at the first level. The second level has quite a bit of blinding material previously applied by the ranger. We tried to tie this up a little to make sure it doesn't move too much. And decided this was OK as it is.
Because it was not possible to enter the tower without all animals clearly seeing you entering, we applied the shade cloth all the way from the trailhead on the forest edge around the metal posts. Blocking the view to make it possible to enter the tower and use the stairs without being seen by the animals.
We made a few slits in the shade cloth at this ground level for those who would like to photograph from a lower point of view. Feel free to add more if you think it's necessary.





At that point we ran out of material again. I actually hoped to do the first level of the tower near the camp ground, but well that has to wait. It was not my main priority, because even though I do like that tower, fact is that the rangers often bring groups of students or other visitors into the clearing in front of the tower to show tracks around the mineral licks and water hole. But if you are lucky and there are no other visitors I believe this place could still offer good opportunties to see various species. Elephants, Banteng, deer, and wild boar seem to visit this clearing. And I've found Leopard tracks very nearby. Anyways, maybe we will do this another time.

The wildlife watching was slow this trip, or maybe we just did not try too hard. We were too lazy getting up early. Really needed some sleep, haha.
But got a great surprise on the 4th day which made everything worth it, a Marbled Cat crossed the track. We're doing well this year, got 3 cat species in Huai Kha Khaeng this year: Leopard Cat, Leopard, and now Marbled Cat. Hopefully the next one has stripes ;)

Hopefully the new blinding material will help all of those interested to see wildlife and offer all of you some great sightings!
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10 Oct 2014 17:31 #2368 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Great work flip-flops!!

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03 Nov 2014 10:27 #2475 by Bagheera
Bagheera replied the topic: Huai Kha Khaeng - 2nd tower - Haw Ton Peung
Great work Ton I'm sure everyone who knows you put that up will be most appreciative of the matter, hopefully at some point in the future I will be able to go down and check this out in person, its got to be worth a 2-3 day vigil at this tower waiting for wildlife..

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