An Endangered Species is "Cared For" in a Thai National
Park: Giant Nuthatch at Doi Ang Kang
Ang Kang is a frequently visited area of Northern Thailand that
due to its very beautiful scenery attracts an ever-increasing number
of visitors, most of them Thai, during the cool season when views
are at their clearest and flowers are usually blooming. Doi Ang Kang
is a part of Doi Pha Hom National Park but the area's value as a wildlife
refuge is somewhat compromised by the communities living within it,
the farming that they work at using huge amounts of pesticides that
often kill birds that feed on treated fruits and now the enormous
numbers visitors to the area.
large numbers of visitors it is usually easy to get away from
them by heading down a trail or by finding some corner that
the crowds drive straight past and the patches of forest and
open shrubland still provide a home to a wide variety of colourful
and rare species.
However, on a recent visit I was quite shocked to find how a
certain area had been completely ignorantly "developed"
by the national park services and destroyed the nest site of
an endangered species: Giant Nuthatch.
Years ago there was a small orchard at the location at which
there is now a small army camp which has a superb view over
the farmland of Northern Thailand. This orchard got chopped
down to make clearing which is often used for camping. A few
years later the national park people created a campsite in the
area of pines close by and over the years there has been a gradual
trend towards building of toilets, accommodation blocks etc.
this was all fairly low key, at least for ten months of the year when
there were very few visitors to the area and birding this area still
turned up regular sightings of Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Spot-breasted
Parrotbill, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Grey-crowned Warbler, Chestnut
Bunting and earlier this year I found a pair of Giant Nuthatches nesting
in a large pine tree in the middle fo the area.
Giant Nuthatch at Doi Ang Kang
Endangered species has a very small world range and given the amount
of deforestation taking place in neighbouring Myanmar, the few sites
in Thailand where it occurs could represent a large proportion of
the population. Species like this are exactly why so many birders
visit Thailand and why Thai national parks are globally important
for wildlife, so imagine my disgust when I returned to the site in
early December this year (2016) to find the following.
at Doi Ang Kang
of the above photographs were taken at exactly the same spot, needless
to say that the first one is unlikely to ever be repeated now that
the area has a liberal covering of concrete and the large, decaying
tree the nuthatches were nesting in has been felled.
One of the most basic things in managing wildlife habitats is surveying
the area to know exactly what it is you are managing. Unfortunately,
these people involved in the Thai national parks system would not
know a Giant Nuthatch if it smacked them in the face and certainly
did not engage in any environmental impact assessment before they
concreted over the habitat of an endangered species. Too often foreigners
visiting countries like Thailand look down upon them, comparing them
unfavourably to their home countries but, I am afraid, that it is
very hard for them not to see Thailand in a very negative light when
the authorities supposedly responsible for running the national parks
are not only diverting funds away from conservation to build obtrusive
constructions but are actively involved in increasing the pressure
on endangered species.
I guess the only bright side to this is that the authorities at Doi
Ang Kang are not extorting 300 baht per person from visiting foreigners
to fund the habitat destruction and elimination of endangered wildlife;
at least not yet.
Related Pages: Doi Ang