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.
Our visit to Huai Kha Khaeng this week was not as pleasant as usual. Apart from the heat and drought, especially the smoke made it unpleasant. We arrived on the 17th of March.
According to the rangers the fires started outside the reserve, most likely started by local farmers, and had now entered the sanctuary.
It seemed like we had entered a war zone. The exloding bamboo went on throughout the night in very high frequencies. We were camping on the river side, luckily on the safe side; the fires did not get to the camp, but the opposite side of the river was on fire.
The thick 'blanket of smoke' made it very unpleasant.
The wildlife did not seem to be bothered by the fires, Sambar, Hog Deer, and Eld's deer continued grazing near the line of fire, and a troop of Long-tailed Macaques even chose to roost in a tree on the burning side of the river.
Seemed like the animals were more comfortable than we were.
At night large trees fell down in the distance.
Luckily there was not much wind so the fires did not move fast.
I now learned why there are so many trails crisscross through the area along the main road. The rangers were using their tractor creating these trails to clear a path without leaflitter or dry wood to stop the fire from moving to other areas. However, every now and then a burning tree would fall down and pass the fire to a new 'block' of forest. Difficult to fight the fire when everything is so dry.
The reflection in the water of an Eld's deer with a backdrop of burning jungle.
No unusual sightings this trip. But a lot of recent Leopard scrapes and pug marks.
Yesterday, the fires seemed to have stopped spreading, at least from what we could see. And the air quality was getting better, leaving the burning sun and soaring temperatures to be the most unpleasant for those intending to visit the park.
If you do not mind the heat, then I guess this could be an interesting time to visit, as the wildlife has to come to the few remaining water sources.
I was there a couple of weeks of ago and it was ready to burn then. I think the source of many of the fires is the burning of sugar cane prior to harvesting, its puts lots of burning embers into the air.