× The park is the third largest in Thailand. It covers an area of 300 square kilometers, including tropical seasonal forests and grasslands. Its altitude mostly ranges from 400–1,000 m above sea level. There are 3,000 species of plants, 320 species of birds, and 67 species of mammals, recording in this, Thailand's most famous National Park.

First jungle outing of the year

05 Jan 2014 21:15 #1605 by onflipflops
First jungle outing of the year was created by onflipflops
My first day of 2014 in the jungle was, well..., special in an unusual way...
Can't beat Johannes with his amazing start of the year, ;). But still it's something you don't find every day.

It was a great day for bird watching, too bad I'm not a true birder at heart, but still enjoyed it.
Stork-billed Kingfisher, Eared Pitta, Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, Siamese Fireback, Silver Pheasant, quite a lot of Red-headed Trogons, and more... I know bird watchers would be very happy to see these.

The good thing was that I got to explore several new areas in Khao Yai that had been on my list for quite a while. And for 75% there were usable trails; partly wildlife tracks, partly research trails, and poacher trails as there were several places with signs of wood-poaching.
2 of the 3 areas were full of bear claw markings. Different sizes, a lot of trees that had been used multiple times, certainly interesting. The third area was heavily used by wild boar.

No really exciting mammal sightings, though seeing a White-handed Gibbon family after quite a while anyway made me happy. Pileated Gibbons were calling not too far, but I couldn't find a trail in their direction. The jungle was too thick.

But what made it a special day were the sightings of, yes, two dead animals. Not exactly great to start the year with dead animals, haha, but well it's part of nature.
In the first area a male Banded Kingfisher had lost its life. I couldn't see any injuries, maybe just old age... it had not even lost a feather (at least I couldn't find any nearby). A handsome bird, though it looks better when still alive...

When I moved to a second area after lunch I found something really amazing.
It was an animal trail that showed elephant and gaur tracks.
Suddenly I saw a large skull and lots of bones scattered around the area on the track.
A few flies were still on site, but there was nothing to eat left as far as I could see, and it didn't even smell. Not very recent, probably a month or more...
It was the skeleton of a Gaur!

I'm not a detective, ;), but did my best to find a cause. I really hoped for tracks of Tiger. I checked every tree nearby hoping to find a tiger scratch, but instead every single tree around the site showed bear claw markings. I don't believe a bear could, or would kill an adult Gaur, but for sure if he found a carcass he would feast on it, therefore probably it had been hangin' around in the area, maybe for many days. There's a LOT of meat on these animals... There were different sizes of claw marks so I guess more than one bear had visited the site.

Of course another death cause could be poaching, but I couldn't find anything that would show it was done by poachers. And honestly I think the skull with horns would be worth quite a bit as well. They should have taken it by now. Even I was tempted to take it home, but I did not want to risk getting caught with it, haha. It's not exactly an easy to hide item. I measured the horns, exactly 1 meter wide, amazing!
The footprints of the Gaur were still visible in the area, and on a nearby tree were tracks that appeared to be from the horns scratching the tree. Seemed like it had spend some time at that spot. Maybe it chose that location to die? I don't know.
My guess is natural cause. Here an image of the skull.

Hopefully next time something special that is still alive!

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06 Jan 2014 10:39 #1606 by Paul T
Replied by Paul T on topic First jungle outing of the year
Great write-up! Am still looking forward to my first foray of the year.

Someone told me that they can estimate the age of a gaur from the folds/rings in the lower part of the horn - not sure exactly how that works though.

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