"Phra Thaew" is the name of the conspicuous mountain range descending along the north through to the south of Thalang District, Phuket island. Its highest peak rises up to 450 metres above sea level. The mountain is densely covered by the forest, making it look like its wrapped in a deep green carpet. The colour brings freshness to lives.
It all starts with the forest trees harmoniously absorbing rainwater. The tree roots begin releasing moisture. Then the moisture becomes drops of water and cumulatively creates water streams. The streams flow down the valleys passing by countless different granite figures disorderly placed by nature itself. They all converge at one point becoming a water basin called Wang Sai. Once the basin wells up, the water cascades hitting mounds of rocks, making water splashes and thus originating the waterfalls -Bang Pae, Ton Sai and Para. The water continually flows out of the forest passing through surrounding communities for people's utilisation and consumption. It then converges with brackish water in the waterways of mangrove forest before going out to the immense open ocean.
Khao Phra Thaew is still in a pure state, and can be seen as a perfect representation of the "rain forest" in South East Asia. Even if the area is relatively small in comparison to other national parks and only a few large wild animals inhabit it, the Khao Phra Thaew Forest's stunning beauty still remains natural and is conspicuous, no less than others. The Forest is considered a recreation ground and nature classroom for those who wish to learn more about such fragile eco-systems and how we can help preserve them.
The Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand (WARF) is a non-profit organization with many years of experience. WARF focuses on wild animal rescue, welfare and conservation, and is involved in running ongoing conservation activities such as the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) in Phuket. WARF is responsible for raising the funding required to set up the Khao-Phra-Theaw Ecological Sustainability project (KES), with support from the Phuket Provincial Authority, National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department (DNP), Tourism Authority of Thailand and other local participants such as a local administrative organization and education institutes. It is hoped that by recruiting people from the parks neighbouring villages we may reduce the pressure of encroachment, and environmental destruction, by providing local people with an alternative income.
"Red-throated barbet perching on a
branch, feeding on a golden fig (Ficus benjamina).
The Barbet is one of many species of birds found in the forest
which competes with the gibbons for
food. At right, volunteers taking time to observe and photograph a Speckle-headed whip snake at Wang Sai basin. This non-venemous snake is rare throughout Thailand but is found in abundance here. (B0001 @Suwit Punnadee; R0019 @Phamon Sumphanthamitr)
The GRP's successful re-introduction of 18 gibbons (4 family groups) into the KPT Forest over the past 8 years (with 6 babies subsequently born in the wild) will hopefully continue to grow into a self-sustaining population - if fully understood, accepted and supported by the local communities surrounding the park.
On a recent long trip for gibbon observation, Kip -the female of the first family group to be released in 2002, was seen enjoying various young leaves up in the canopy. During observation we realised that she was pregnant again and on December 30th we discovered the sixth wild born gibbon had arrived!. (M0012, M0013 @Suwit Punnadee)
About 30 meters away from Kip, the rough and tumble play of wild-born juvenile siblings (Hope and Toffee), up on a emergent tree as (Hopea sp). They stop for a while, and the elder sibling starts to groom her younger sister before starting to play again. (M0014, M0015 @Suwit Punnadee)
A wild gibbon spends most of its life in the main canopy, in contrast to newly reintroduced gibbons, who are often found coming down to the forest floor. However, over time we hope this unusual behaviour may change, and our wild born gibbons also tend to stay up in the treetops. (M0016, M0017 @Phamon Sumphanthamitr)