Thap Lan: Thailand’s unsung forest gemk under threat, but still abrim with life
On the trail of a conservation group conducting a wildlife monitoring survey, we stop the 4×4 on the road and walk along the red earth to check on camera traps. Wildlife rangers from Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and international conservationists are working deep in Thap Lan National Park, where the air smells of forest matter and minerals. Oriental pied hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) streak overhead in darts of black and white from tree to tree. Their fruit-eating, high-flying lifestyles make light work of the seed-dispersal necessary for a healthy forest ecosystem. Beside the road, a greater racket-tailed drongo (Dicurus paradiseus) displays inky blue-black plumage and beautiful elongated outer tail feathers that trail hypnotically around after the bird as it flies. The conservationists’ expensive motion-sensor cameras are given various layers of defense — silica gel is put inside the camera casing (rainy season), chalk is applied to the outer edges (ants), the camera is put back in its specially-made metal box (elephants) and fixed to the tree with a lock and strong cables (thieves).