Khao Sok National Park

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Khao Sok National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Floating Huts.jpg
Map showing the location of Khao Sok National Park
Map showing the location of Khao Sok National Park
Map of Thailand
Location Surat Thani Province, Thailand
Nearest city Surat Thani
Coordinates 8°56′12″N 98°31′49″E / 8.93667°N 98.53028°E / 8.93667; 98.53028Coordinates: 8°56′12″N 98°31′49″E / 8.93667°N 98.53028°E / 8.93667; 98.53028
Area 739 km²
Established December 22, 1980
Khao Sok view from a kayak

Khao Sok National Park (Thai: เขาสก) is located in Surat Thani province in Thailand. Its land area is 739 km², and it includes the 165 square kilometer Cheow Lan Lake dammed by the Ratchaprapha dam. The park comprises the largest area of virgin forest in Southern Thailand and is a remnant of rainforest which is older and more diverse than the Amazon Rainforest.

Geography[edit]

Beautiful sandstone and mudstone rocks rise about 300-600m above the sea level. Additionally the Park is traversed by a limestone mountain range from north to south with the highest point of 950m. This mountain range is hit by monsoon rain coming from both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, which makes it Thailand’s wettest region with an annual rain fall of 3500mm. Heavy rainfall and falling leaves led to the erosion of the limestone rocks and created the significant karst formation of today.

Flora[edit]

Bamboo holds topsoil very tenaciously, preventing soil erosion on hillsides and riverbanks. With more than 1500 species, Bamboo is the oldest grass in the world, dating back nearly 60 Million years. Liana trees grow rapidly wrapping around any vertical or horizontal support base such as Takian or Rain Trees. Thus it is dangerous to simply cut a tree in the jungle because it can pull connected Liana vines with it creating a cascade of damage. Wide spread are these remarkable buttress roots. Those are enlarged root bases mostly of trees that grow above the upper canopy. The theory about these roots is that they either developed in order to be more grounded in times of storm and rain and/or that they spread out further on the ground in order to get more nutrients. Many kinds of wild fruit can be found around the National Park and serve as nurture for animals. Among those fruits are wild Jackfruit, Mangosteen, Durian, Rambutan, Jujube, Pomelo and wild Banana. Furthermor wild pepper and ginger are not uncommon. Khao Sok National Park is perhaps also most famous for the Bua Phut (Rafflesia kerrii) flower.

Wildlife[edit]

It is estimated to contain over 5% of the worlds species. Wild mammals include Malayan Tapir, Asian Elephant, Tiger, Sambar Deer, Bear, Guar, Banteng, Serow, Wild Boar, Pig-tailed Macaque, Langur, White handed gibbons, Squirrel, Muntjak, Mouse Deer, barking deer.

Climate[edit]

The so-called wet season is between late April to December. The climate is ranging from 22°C – 36°C all year around. Humidity and warm temperature provide the optimal environment for a rich eco-system in this tropical rain forest.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Day Temp. in °C 30 32 33 33 31 30 30 30 30 29 29 29
Min. Day Temp. in °C 20 20 21 22 23 22 22 22 22 22 21 21
Water Temp. in °C 27 28 28 29 29 29 28 28 28 28 28 27
Daylight in Hours 12 12 12 12 13 13 13 12 12 12 12 12
Rainfall in mm 41 33 62 148 320 373 372 369 447 332 210 89

Natural History[edit]

This area is estimated to be over 160 million years old, built through tectonic movements, climate changes, erosions and sediment accumulations. Approximately 300 million years ago, shallow water and warm temperatures in this region led to the creation of a huge coral reef. Estimated to be 5 times as big as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, it originally stretched from China all the way Borneo. Due to the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plate 0-66 million years ago, the Himalayas were formed. What is now Thailand shifted dramatically near the continental divide and the limestone rocks were forced upward creating the dramatic limestone "karsts" for which the region is know today. Finally the melting Ice established the river-rich landscape as well as dozens of waterfalls around the National Park.

Limestone Rocks.

Human History[edit]

The first migrants to Thailand migrated during the Ice Age from Borneo around 37.000 b.C. The first accounts of people living in Khao Sok were found in the 1800s. In 1944 the inhabitants of this region were stricken by a deadly epidemic. A large number of the villagers died while the few survivors escaped from the area to settle in nearby Takua Pa.

In 1961 the transcontinental highway route 401 was built, reaching from Phun Pin in Surat Thani province to Takuapa in Phang Nga province. At the turn of the millennium, they began the process of expanding route 401 to a 4 lane freeway.

In the 1970s Thai student activists and communist insurgents set up a stronghold in the caves of Khao Sok. Settled in the shelter of the rainforest they protected the region from the Thai army, loggers, miners and hunters for seven years.

Khao Sok officially became a National Park in the year of 1980. The government and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) were interested in this region because Khao Sok holds the largest watershed in Southern Thailand. Only 2 years later EGAT established the 94 m high Ratchaprapha Dam, blocking off the Klong Saeng River, a tributary of the Phum Duang River and creating a 165 square kilometer lake inside the National Park. This dam should serve as a source of electricity to the south, and the lake became a major holiday destination for Thai and foreign tourists alike. There were several species of animals that had to be resettled to save them from drowning as the lake slowly filled over a period of 3 years. Unfortunately a study from 1995 revealed the loss of some 52 species of fish from the river which couldn’t survive in the stagnant water.

References[edit]

External links[edit]