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× Note: Sanctuaries are different to National Parks in Thailand, Thailand currently has established 39 sanctuaries and access is more restrictive as their role is as a sanctuary for wildlife rather than a park for the nation. Some sanctuaries do allow limited access to tourists.

Huai Kha Kaeng daytrip - lots of banteng and boar.

08 Jun 2019 09:35 - 16 Jun 2019 16:38 #5232 by wvwv
I'd set of on a 3-day outing from Bangkok intending to rent a motorbike from Nakhon Sawan and drive to a few national parks/sanctuaries.  Nakhon Sawan is 100km from the forested areas to the west, but it's the nearest town with advertised motorbike rental.  The rental shop pulled out of our arrangement because I was going too far and didn't live in Nakhon Sawan (shame they didn't clarify that before the 4-hour bus to their shop).  There is no public transport to HKK, Mae Wong NP, Klong Lan NP, so I was faced with another 4-hour bus and a wasted day.  Getting desperate I stumbled on an airbnb ad quite far down the google search results which included free motorbike use.  I messaged the guy and asked if it was possible just to rent the motorbike, got a quick reply, a price was agreed and the trip was saved from disaster.

I went to Klong Lan and Mae Wong first.  I'll make another post for Mae Wong.  Klong Lan is basically just a very tall waterfall and a small nature trail so I won't bother with a separate post for that but worth mentioning the large numbers of snakes... I saw 4 live snakes and 6-8 dead snakes just on the 5km road to the waterfall and back, and around the waterfall.



Onto Huai Kha Kaeng.  There is very little signage on the road for such an important wildlife diversity hotspot.  A few km before the entrance gate I turned a corner and saw another snake in the road, managed to avoid running it over, looked back and saw it 'stand up' and flare its hood, so a cobra of some sort.  When I'd dismounted it had disappeared into the grass.  Entrance fee is 200 for foreigners and 20 for thais.  20 for motorbike, 30 for car.  I thought that given how easy it is to walk through the jungle here, it wouldn't be difficult for somebody adverse to double-pricing to avoid the fee should they be so inclined (and happy to walk).

Not far onto the main road in the sanctuary and there is a left turning blocked by a gate, but motorbikes can get past.  I believe there is a watchtower down here somewhere but it looked more like a ranger station to me, perhaps the tower is further on from that.  The next turning off the main road wasn't gated and is passable on a bike, not by car.  This trail splits left and right with the left going to a watchtower and right going towards the main HQ area.  I stayed at the watchtower for a couple of hours and saw a very large herd of banteng, 2 different boar and a lot of green peafowl.  I understand there are only around 550 banteng in Thailand, I counted 25 at one point, so I had roughly 5% of the population in front of me.  I thought with all this prey a tiger was bound to burst from the forest and take down a banteng 25 metres in front of me, but it didn't happen.










The watchtower had a large tree in front of it which restricted the view.  Somebody had set up a sort of hide in the branches of another nearby tree to get a better vantage point.

Next I walked the Khao Hin Daeng and Home of Tiger nature trails.  None of the trails in HKK are marked apart from at their start.  The trails are not obvious and it would be easy to get lost so GPS is essential.  I didn't see anything of interest on the KHD trail except a few hornbills.  I startled a boar on the Tiger trail and also found another watchtower.  This watchtower had a small patch of grassland in front of it and I didn't stay long.





Around HQ and on the way out of the park:





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08 Jun 2019 09:48 - 16 Jun 2019 16:39 #5233 by wvwv




Signposted at the entrance is a turning to a captive breeding centre, which has bears, deer, serow, birds, civets, mongoose etc.

This place is really distressing.  The cages are far too small.  A lot of the animals are displaying repetitive swaying motions associated with stress/boredom.  Some of the civet/mongoose cages have nothing inside at all except a single tube.  It's very hard for me to understand how a wildlife sanctuary can treat animals in this way especially a wildlife sanctuary whose luminary Seub Nakhasathien said this:

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09 Jun 2019 14:22 #5234 by WT admin
Great to have an update on HKK, thanks!

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12 Jun 2019 18:57 #5237 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic Huai Kha Kaeng daytrip - lots of banteng and boar.
Officially for both the first tower (Haw Nok Yung) and the second one (Haw Ton Pueng, where you photographed the Banteng) you need a ranger to accompany you. But yes, sometimes you can get away with it. For that you first need to drive further in the park to the HQ area and just ask the rangers there. There is no official charge though a financial contribution is likely to be appreciated.
I didn't know motorbikes were allowed into the park. That's interesting. 

Did you get any photos of the snakes in Khlong Lan?
And the one on the entrance road to HKK, did it have black and white coloration on the body? And how long was it approximately?
The area is supposed to have the black and white morphs of the Indochinese Spitting Cobras, Naja siamensis. I never had the luck to see that color morph, but hope to see one day. I have only seen 'plain' colored ones in other parts of Thailand.
Other option is King Cobra, which I have seen in HKK, or Monocled Cobra which is likely to be brown there.

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12 Jun 2019 19:23 #5238 by wvwv
I like snakes so I usually know what it is as soon as I see it.  The ones at Klong Lan were all common so I didn't bother with photos.  The live ones were all a bit fast for me anyway.  First dead one I saw was a green whip snake.  It had some white dashes on the body so possibly some kind of speckled variation.  Only about 30cm away from that snake was a small fat snake which had been run over a few too many times to identify, maybe a pipe snake.  And then weirdly the next time I passed those 2 snakes there was a live keelback in exactly the same place.  It was small and quickly headed for the water, I tried to grab it but no luck.

There was a live indochinese rat snake crossing the road at dusk, I followed that one to the waters edge, and the next day on the way out from the waterfall the motorbike in front of me slowed down and I saw another rat snake cross the road in front of him.  50 metres further on and just behind the same motorbike that was in front of me I saw quite a big golden tree snake crossing the road which I watched climb a tree.  It's very easy to lose them in the branches even if you know exactly where they are.  And there was another dead rat snake, those brown and white striped ones, I forget the name.  Not as common as the black ones.

As for the cobra, I flashed past it on the bike but yes I did catch a glimpse of black and white on its back.  I thought it was a juvenile king because I believe they are black and white before they get older?  Probably about a metre long.  When I turned round it was staring straight at me and its hood/underside was a lighter colour.  I was a few metres away so it chose to run rather than fight.  I've seen two kings before in Thailand, in Koh Chang and Koh Kood.

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13 Jun 2019 09:07 #5239 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic Huai Kha Kaeng daytrip - lots of banteng and boar.
The young kings are black with thin yellow rings, but that color will change to brown when they turn older. If it was about a meter long, I would guess the Indochinese spitting cobra is probably more likely. Either way, great sighting!

As for the brown and white stripes rat snake, maybe you mean the Oriental Rat Snake, Ptyas mucosa.

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