× 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 Kaeng visit September 2013

4 years 10 months ago - 4 years 10 months ago #1387 by onflipflops
Live from HKK, I would like to ask confirmation about tracks I just found?
I'm quite sure it has to be Tiger, but I'm not sure how large Leopard tracks would be. The pug mark 110 mm wide from the left to the right toe. And 120mm from top to bottom.

I see in the animal track scan that tiger is 120mm or even more. But the resolution of the scan makes it hard to figure out what the number of the Leopard track size is, and not sure if that is a maximum.

I guess Leopard is smaller than what I've seen, but just to be sure hopefully one of you can confirm this.

In any case it's an incredible find, and It has left me with a big smile on my face. It's the first time for me to find tracks of a big cat. I think I've once seen tracks that could have been Clouded Leopard but it was nothing compared to these huge prints.

It was half of my mission for my second HKK visit to see big cat tracks. But to find them on the first day, in the sand, i guess only a day old, is more than I could ask for. So far this morning two male Green Peafowl's, of which one was flying, which is quite an impressive sight. A male Sambar and male Red Muntjac. And very fresh poop and tracks of Banteng. And that brings me closer to the other half of my 'mission': seeing a Banteng, a species I haven't seen in the wild yet. I don't want to leave before I succeed.

But anyway my trip is already a great success after finding the clear big cat's pug marks!

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4 years 10 months ago - 4 years 10 months ago #1388 by Paul T
Congrats!! At 110 mm its going to be a tiger. The leopard track is significantly smaller, just over 80 mm for a full adult. The leopard's toe spread will be more compact in the placement against each other, whereas the tiger will be more spread out. The leopard tracks I have seen have looked "dainty" compared to the tigers.

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4 years 10 months ago - 4 years 10 months ago #1390 by onflipflops
Hi Trekker, thanks for confirming that! Even if it were Leopard tracks I would still be very happy, but tiger tracks are just that tiny bit more amazing. What a day!



It's been a great first day of my second trip in HKK.
After posting my question while having lunch, I did a late afternoon drive; 4 Golden Jackals were sitting in the middle of the road, waiting for me. They moved off the road when I approached though, but when I turned of the engine and let the car slowly roll down hill, I got fairly close while they were just hangin' around, not bothered about my presence. Still not perfect for pictures with a 300mm on full frame, but certainly not bad. It's funny how comfortable they were with the car, but when I couldn't resist to get out of the car in hope to get a bit closer, they immediately moved away. They stayed in sight and relaxed immediately when I went back in the car. I had heard/ read that they are seen every now an then in HKK, so I did hope for a good sighting. Only seen the species twice in Khao Yai, and one was at night and the other in the mist at 1100 - 1200 m elevation, double the maximum elevation as stated on wikipedia. No pictures, but this time had a really good look. Beautiful creatures.



At about 17:00 - 17:30 I reached the first tower. 5 Green Peacocks were already out in the grass at the opposite side of the river. At 18:00 2 Sambar appeared at the same spot, but remained in the dark forest edge and dissapeared again. It was raining on and off, and when light started to fade and the rain had stopped at about 18:15 I decided to head back to the car before it would get dark.
Just when I was ready packing my stuff I had a last look around the open area and on the right of the tower a large silhouette appeared from the forest. And within a few seconds a small herd of 5 Banteng (3 large females with 2 younger ones) was out in the open grazing on the river bank. Amazing that it was all this easy.



I had set this goal for this trip: finding big cat tracks and spotting Banteng. Not really expecting it would work out...
Even emailed a friend about my wish to see the Jackals as well, but thought the above goal was hard enough to achieve.
Sometimes luck is on your side. I'm not going home though, haha. I'll stick around a few more days to see what happens. Some primates are welcome as well...
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4 years 10 months ago - 4 years 10 months ago #1391 by admin
Fantastic! Can't wait to see what else you get.

And "live" too!

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4 years 10 months ago #1392 by Bagheera
Wow, those tiger tracks are totally awesome! must have been an incredible feeling knowing you were standing where it had been walking not so long ago!

The golden jackal looks in beautiful condition, much better than the individuals I saw in KK a few months back..

I think you have mentioned before but Ill ask again anyway; Is this watching tower you refer to the one that is open to anyone to use? If so when you are in the tower are you concealed from view? or would you need to bring some blind material? If there are tigers in that area then I reckon that has to be worth a decent vigil in the tower on the lookout!!

Well done!!

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4 years 10 months ago #1395 by onflipflops
Indeed an incredible feeling. Even though obviously I knew tigers occur in HKK, to see the fresh tracks in real life is really awesome!

The Jackals looked very good indeed. I guess with many large predators they have enough to scavenge... I've heard today they are quite commonly seen.

The first tower, is open to anyone. It's half way the Pong Chang Puak nature trail. It's maybe wise to notify the rangers that you are there, especially for a late afternoon/ evening visit, though they told me you need to leave at 18:00.
The first evening I did not notify anybody and did not know of any restricting timing. I anyway decided to leave at 18:15 because it got too dark to see/ photograph, but exactly then the Banteng appeared. After 18:00 things tend to happen, at least that is my experience in Khao Yai as well with Gaur.
Today I stayed only till 17:30. No Banteng (yet), but a Wild Boar, several peacocks which seem to be common.

When in the tower you're not totally concealed from view, but I think good enough. Your head and shoulders might be visible from a tiger's point of view, which might be enough to spook it, I really don't know, but I believe that when you don't move from left to right, it will be hard for any animal to actually notice you. Blind material might only be neccessary if the animals approach the tower, which might happen, but well I guess it's not so likely. I believe that sitting still should be fine in 99% of the cases. There are three levels, I prefer the lowest, because you can look a bit underneath the solitary trees on the river bank and see the forest edge on the opposite side. I believe the view is better than from higher up in the tower.
And there are several plastic seats, same like in the average low-budget Thai restaurant. So no real need to bring anything.

I still don't know if the second tower is open for tourists or not. I guess one of these days I will ask, but anyway the road to get there is not great for my vehicle, a normal Toyota vigo. No high prerunner, just small tires (15inch I believe) and no 4x4. Even though it's mostly hard sand, I still had quite a few situations when the wheels started slipping, but I made it.
You don't want to get stuck there, not in the evening when you're unlikely to get any help. It is an option to drive in there and just before a rather steep little stream crossing (most likely dry in most of the year) park your car. From there follow the track for a bit more than 1 km. At this crossing my license plate holder broke, because it hit the ground due to the angle of the climb on the way back when crossing the stream. If you have a vehicle with high clearance and preferably 4x4, it should be fine to continue.

There are no signs that entering is restricted, but I just get this feeling you're not really supposed to enter. That's why I haven't asked, haha. I might be wrong. And even if I'm not wrong I guess when you make friends with the right people you might be able to go. I'll update about this asap.
BTW It's on this trail where I found the tiger pug marks. But on a tree just off the trail to the first tower I saw a big scratch that I reckon is tiger evidence as well.

Saw a couple of Wild Boars on the Tiger Home trail (and fresh elephant tracks) and one wild boar at the first tower. Got to see primates today, a troop of Long-tailed Macaques, and later a couple near the restaurant. Heard White-handed Gibbon in the far distance. Saw Sambar and Muntjacs again, and of course the tame Hog and Eld's Deer.
And spotted a Golden Tree Snake and later a small Mock Viper.

One of the rangers told me that there are 2 tigers known to visit the area around the HQ. And 4 Leopard, both yellow and black phase. With use of the 'reading pug marks'-pdf Trekker posted today, I believe the tracks I found were an adult female tiger. But obviously I'm no expert.
So, far the update for today.

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