The Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (15°00'-15°50'N, 99°00'-99°28'E) is a World Heritage Site that lies mainly in Uthai Thani Province, but extends into Tak Province. It is located at the southern end of the Dawna Range, about 300 kilometers (km) north-west of Bangkok, Thailand.
Date and History of Establishment
- Established 26 August 1972.
- Inscribed with Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary on the World Heritage List in 1991.
The present area is 257,464 hectacres (ha) following an extension to the south and east in 1986. It is contiguous with Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary (320,000 ha) to the west. Although the two sanctuaries are administered separately, they are essentially a single conservation area representing the largest legislated protected area in mainland Southeast Asia. The sanctuaries constitute a major component of the protected areas cluster in western Thailand, comprising Sri Nakarin National Park (153,200 ha), Chaloem Rattankosin National Park (5,900 ha), Erawan National Park (55,000 ha), Sai Yok National Park (50,000 ha) and Salak Phra Wildlife Sanctuary (85,855 ha). They both adjoin Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary (251,600 ha) to the north, which has been demarcated but not yet gazetted. In total, there are 1,208,300 ha of protected areas in the complex. It has been proposed to add a further 17,500 ha to the northeast of Huai Kha Khaeng in order to correct the management insecurity of a deeply indented boundary near the headquarters, to make the sanctuary more contiguous with the Mae Wong National Park and to incorporate the watershed slopes of the Huai Thap Salao and Huai Mae Dee Noi, the last remaining pockets of forest to the east of the sanctuary.
Ranges from riverine valleys at 250 meters (m) to a maximum altitude of 1,678 m.
The terrain is generally hilly with many permanent and seasonal streams. The highest peak (Khao Pai Huai Kha Khaeng) lies in the extreme north of the sanctuary. Valleys are interspersed with small lowland plains. The sanctuary comprises the catchment area of the Huai Kha Khaeng, which flows through the middle of the sanctuary into the Kwae Yai and the Sri Nakarin Dam in Kanchanaburi Province, and much of the uppercatchment area of the Huai Thap Salao, which flows into the Sakrae Krang in Uthai Thani Province.
Red-brown earths and red-yellow podzols are the predominant soils, the former derived from limestone and found in the level uplands and Mae Chan Valley, whilst the latter is found in the Huai Kha Khaeng Valley. A physical feature that is important for wildlife is the presence of mineral licks. These occur throughout the sanctuary as either wet or dry, and most appear to be located on, or around, granite intrusions in areas with red-yellow podzolic soil and may be associated with the massive faults or lineaments in the intensely folded geomorphology of this area. Small lakes, ponds and swampy areas occur, some being seasonal whilst others are perennial; these are important wildlife habitats. Limestone sink holes are found; most are only about 20 m in diameter and 10-12 m in diameter, but some are more than 2 km long, 250 m wide and drop as much as 30 m depth.
Conditions range from tropical to sub-tropical. The climate is monsoonal, with a dry season from November to April. The heaviest rains generally arrive in September or October, as a result of typhoons in the South China Sea. Annual rainfall is about 1700 millimeters (mm). Temperatures range from an average of 19 degrees Celsius (°C) in December (min. 10°C, max. 28°C) to an average of 28°C in May (min. 20°C, max. 37°C).
The vegetation is largely undisturbed, with little logging or shifting agriculture practiced in the past. Five types of forest can be distinguished. The highest slopes are covered with hill evergreen forest (covering 38,400 ha), while slopes above 600 m generally support dry semi-evergreen forest (46,300 ha). The rest of the sanctuary supports mixed deciduous (117,300 ha) and bamboo forest (18,300 ha), and dry dipterocarp forest (34,500 ha) in areas with poor or shallow soil. In unusually moist areas along some rivers and streams, evergreen gallery forest is present. The result is often a patchy mosaic of vegetation types, particularly in valley bottoms. In lowland areas, mainly near the larger rivers, there are some small patches of open grassland. Commercially important tree species include teak Tectona grandis, Terminatia nudiflora, Xylia kerii, L. calyculata, A. xylocarpa, D. alatus, H. odorata, Anisoptera cochinchinensis.
The fauna of both Thung Yai and Huai Kha Khaeng includes an unusual mix of species with primarily Sundaic, Indo-Chinese, Indo-Burmese and Sino-Himalayan affinities, many of whose ranges do not overlap. Most species are either characteristic of the Oriental/Indo-Malayan region or more specifically associated with the Indo-Chinese province of that region, but with a strong Sundaic element included. A small proportion is Palaearctic.
Huai Kha Khaeng supports a significant proportion of Thailand's animal species, including several more commonly seen in the north or south of the country. Of Thailand's 265 mammal species, 67 are known to occur in this sanctuary. Among these are three of the National Reserved Wildlife Species of Thailand: wild water buffalo Bubalus arnee, mainland serow Capricornis sumatraensis and hog deer Cervus porcinus. The presence of another, Thailand brow-antlered deer Cervus eldi siamensis, has not been definitely confirmed since two were shot in 1965. Some 24-40 water buffalo (the only herd in Thailand) are found in the south of the sanctuary, but there is some doubt about whether or not there has been any interbreeding with domestic animals. Hog deer are said to have been seen at least twice just south of Huai Mae Dee, a tributary of the Huai Kha Khaeng, but they are assumed to number very few. Other threatened mammals include Asiatic wild dog Cuon alpinus (V), tiger Panthera tigris, leopard Panthera pardus (black forms being as commonly seen as spotted), clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa (V), Asian elephant Elephas maximus, estimated to number 150-200 animals, Asian tapir Tapirus indicus (rarely seen, but tracks are common in parts of the sanctuary) and Fea's muntjac Muntiacus feae. Gaur Bos gaurus and banteng Bos javanicus are still fairly common, although they have become increasingly rare elsewhere in Thailand due to poaching. At least two species of otter have been identified, namely Oriental small-clawed Aonyx cinerea and smooth-coated Lutra perspicillata. All five macaque species occurring in Thailand are present, namely rhesus Macaca mulatta, crab-eating M. fascicularis, pig-tailed M. nemestrina, Assam M. assamensis and stump-tailed M. arctoides. The presence of these sympatric species may be the result of the area having been a Pleistocene refugium. Other primates include silver leaf monkey Presbytis cristata, Phayre's leaf monkey P. phayrei and white-handed gibbon Hylobates lar.
Of Thailand's 900 species of birds, 355 have so far been recorded in the sanctuary (Nakasathien et al., 1987). Many of these are now rare in Thailand, including green peafowl Pavo muticus, red-headed vulture Torgos calvus, Kalij pheasant Lophura leucomelana, Burmese peacock-pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum, rufous-necked hornbill Aceros nipalensis and white-winged wooduck Cairina scutulata.
A detailed summary discussion of the fauna of the combined Thung Yai-Huai Kha Khaeng sanctuaries is given in ONEB and species lists have been compiled. This includes some 120 mammals, 400 birds, 96 reptiles, 43 amphibians and 113 freshwater fish as confirmed occurrences, with a number of species suspected as being present but not confirmed. Thirty-four internationally threatened species are also found within the confines of the two sanctuaries.
"Rings of Stones", so placed to mark the site of buried treasures, are common in some parts of the sanctuary (e.g. near the Sap Far Pa Guard Station), but none has been investigated by archaeologists. There may be sites of interest to palaeo-anthropologists, but the area has not been surveyed.
Local Human Population
There are no longer any hill-tribe villages within the sanctuary. Some Karen villages were relocated in about 1976 from the southernmost area to the southeast in Ban Rai District. The one Hmong village in the west was relocated in 1986. Thai villages have recently been established in the proposed buffer zone, and it is hoped that they will be relocated in due course.
Visitors and Visitor Facilities
The sanctuary is not open to the general public, but permission may be given to researchers, naturalists and education groups for specific purposes. About 1,000 visitors come to the sanctuary during the dry season. Permits can be obtained from the Wildlife Conservation Division in Bangkok, or from the Chief of the Sanctuary or the Chief of Khao Nang Rum. Huai Kha Khaeng is accessible via Uthai Thani. The journey by car takes 6-7 hours from Bangkok. The road from Uthai Thani to Lansak is metaled, but thereafter a four-wheel drive vehicle is often necessary. There are buses from Bangkok to Uthai Thani and Lansak, but no public service as far as the sanctuary.
Scientific Research and Facilities
The Wildlife Conservation Division maintains a wildlife research station in Huai Kha Khaeng at Khao Nang Rum, and more than 50 projects have been carried out in the sanctuary. A guest house is available for visiting scientists. Surveys have included the identification of key elephant areas. Studies of bird communities have been carried out by Round (1985) and Bhumpakan et al. (1984). Current research includes work on green peafowl.
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most outstanding conservation areas in mainland Southeast Asia on account of its largely undisturbed primeval forest. It contains one of the last important areas of lowland riverine forest remaining in Thailand, which supports the last viable populations of several riparian bird species in the country. These include green peafowl, lesser fishing eagle, red-headed vulture and crested kingfisher. It is also the most important area in Thailand for banteng and, together with Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary, for gaur. The combined area may be the only conservation area in Thailand large enough to offer long-term prospects for the survival of many large mammal species. The justification for the inscription of the Thung Yai-Huai Kha Khaeng Sanctuary complex argues that the site is biogeographically unique, capable of sustaining flora and fauna indefinitely, of exceptional natural beauty and scientific value, and includes very high biological diversity. Being located in a transition zone between the tropics and sub-tropics and, perhaps, because it was a Pleistocene refugium, a number of species of birds and mammals are found to be sympatric here. Few other areas of dry tropical forest in the region are as large, as well protected or as pristine. The complex also contains outstanding examples of the rock formations which distinguish the western edge of mainland Southeast Asia from the more stable continental core, and is probably one of the best modern examples of the impact of the Pleistocene epoch on the distribution and dispersal of Southeast Asian fauna. The impact of geological activity on an area of pristine dry tropical forest is exemplified better than elsewhere.
A management plan has been prepared by a team from Kasetsart University, and this has been discussed and approved by the Royal Forest Department's Management Plan Committee. There are ten forest guard stations and a further two are being established. It is expected that 5 more stations will be established, bringing the total to 17, with a commitment to eventually reduce the area of sanctuary per guard station to 64 square kilometers (km2). There are no guard stations in the extreme north or northwest of the sanctuary, and resources generally are inadequate for carrying out effective anti-poaching measures. An attempt was made to reintroduce white-winged woodduck in 1985. There is at present no legally defined buffer zone although the need for one is recognized. There is also a perceived need for conservation [[environmental awareness|awareness\ programs to help foster good relations with local communities, although previous attempts to achieve this around the sanctuary have not been successful.
The sanctuary is far from secure. Poaching is a persistent problem, but agricultural development, logging and dam projects to the east and south are facilitating access. The construction of the Thap Salao Dam to the east has resulted in deforestation of much of the buffer zone. The most immediate, although indirect threat was from the Nam Choan Dam project, recently revived by the Electricity Generating Authority in 1986 but shelved during 1988. The dam would have flooded the valleys of the upper Kwae Yai immediately due west of the sanctuary, severing it from Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary and thereby destroying the integrity of the two sites as a single conservation area.
One superintendent, ten deputies (one for each forest guard station), 30 rangers and about 150 guards. Khao Nang Rum Research Station in the sanctuary is staffed by a graduate research official, two permanent research assistants (also graduates), two graduate researchers, three permanent wardens and about 20 casual laborers.
The allocation for 1986 was baht 2,426,000 (US$ 88,200), 3.8 million baht in 1989 and 3.75 million during 1990. The current management plan envisages a budget of 12.8 million baht annually during the period 1991-1995. However, the allocation is unlikely to be granted in full. A major support program funded by World Wildlife Fund is due to commence during 1991.
IUCN Management Category
- IV (Habitat/Species Management Area)
- Natural World Heritage Site - Criteria ii, iii, iv
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- Anon. (1985). White-winged wood duck reintroduction plan. Oryx 19: 41.
- Anon. (1987). Hilltribe families to be resettled. Bangkok Post 25 February.
- Bhumpakkapan, N. Kutintara, V. and Naksatir, N. (1985). The wild fauna of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Department of Forest Biology, Kasetsart University, Bangkok. (In Thai, English translation in preparation)
- Brockelman, W.Y. (1987). 'Nature Conservation' in Arbhabhirama, Phantumvanit and Elkington. Thailand Natural Resources Profile. Thailand Development Research Institute, Bangkok. ISBN: 0195888871
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- Hillgarth, N., Norton, C.C., Peirce, M.A. and Stewart-Cox, B.J. (in press). Monitoring parasites in wild and captive green peafowl in Thailand. ICBP Technical Publications.
- Kasetsart University (1987). Assessment of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and other preserves in Thailand. Final report. Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, Royal Forest Department, Office of the National Environment Board, USAID. 130 pp.
- Kutintara, U. and Bhumpakkapun, N. (1988). Draft management plan for the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Forest Biology Group, Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, Bangkok. In Thai. (Unseen)
- Lekagul, B. and McNeely, J. (1977). Mammals of Thailand. Association for the Conservation of Thailand, Bangkok.
- Maneekorn, T. (1985). A study of the behaviour of the green peafowl (Pavo muticus) at Naifor salt-lick in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary 12-19 Jan and 16-25 February 1985. Journal of Forest Biology Department, Kasetsart University, Bangkok. (In Thai)
- Nakasathien, S., Bhumpakkapan, B. and Simcharoen, S. (1987). Forest and wildlife ecology in Thung Yai Naresuan and Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuaries. Wildlife Fund Thailand, Bangkok.
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- Phumpakapun, N., Kutintara, V. and Kakastit, N. (1986). Wild fauna of Huai Kha Khaeng. In Khao Nang Rum Research Station Report No.1. Wildlife Conservation Division Technical Section, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok. Pp. 1-63. (Unseen)
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- Round, P.D. (1983). Preliminary list of bird species recorded at Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok.
- Round, P.D. (1984). A pilot survey of the green peafowl (Pavo muticus) in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. The Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok.
- Round, P.D. (1985). Status and conservation of resident birds in Thailand. Association for the Conservation of Wildlife. Bangkok. 143 pp. RFD (n.d.). Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Royal Forest Department. 1 pp. ISBN: 0946888132
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