Thailand is a nation in Southeast Asia that covers an area of 513,120 square kilometers. Thailand borders four countries including Cambodia, Burma, Laos, and Malaysia, besides bordering the Andaman Sea and the gulf of Thailand. The country has a wealth of native plants and animals in addition to diverse landscapes. As a result, Thailand has established 127 national parks and 22 marine parks that enable conservation of the country's rich flora and fauna. Some of the important national parks are Kaeng Krachan, Khao Yai, Thap Lan, and Doi Phu Kha.
Kaeng Krachan National Park
Kaeng Krachan is Thailand's largest national park, covering an area of 2,915 square kilometers. The park was established on June 12, 1981, in the Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan Provinces. Kaeng Krachan is mainly a rainforest area. It has a variety of tropical vegetation in addition to over 400 bird species, 300 butterfly species, and 57 known mammal species. Animals such as bears, wild dogs, gaurs, golden jackal, porcupines, giant squirrel, and langurs inhabit the park. The park is also home to tigers although they are rare. Some of the bird species in the park are the hornbill, giant pitta, ruddy kingfisher, great argus, and the flavescent bulbul. Snakes such as blue coral snake, Siamese cat snake, and mountain pit viper can be found in the park. Kaeng Krachan's spectacular waterfalls and beautiful landscape make the park one of the best parks to visit in Thailand.
Thap Lan National Park
Thap Lan is the second largest park in Thailand and covers an area of 2,236 square kilometers. It was established on December 23, 1981, to protect Lan trees in the park. The park's landscape consists of rugged mountains, steep cliffs, deep valleys and scenic waterfalls. Thap Lan has a variety of vegetation from evergreen forests to mixed deciduous forests, grasslands to dry dipterocarp forests. The park has over 800 animal species including 200 species of reptiles and amphibians. It provides a home to endangered animals such as the Asian elephant, tiger, Asian golden cat, Pigtailed Macaque, and Gaur. Despite the park being a protected area, poachers in search of the precious rosewood and elephant tusks invade the park frequently.
Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park, which covers an area of 2,169 square kilometers, is the third largest national park in Thailand. The park is one of the protected areas that form the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex. The forest complex was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005. It is a popular tourist destination due to its wide range of flora and fauna. Over 300 bird species inhabit the park including owls, pittas, hornbills, woodpeckers, barbets, jungle fowls and partridges. Reptile watching is one of the exciting activities in the park. The park suffers from illegal logging of rosewood, sandalwood, and aloe wood.
Doi Phu Kha National Park
Doi Phu Kha National Park covers an area of 1,704 square kilometers. It was established on June 17, 1999. The park is widely covered by mountain rainforests. Rare bird species such as the black eagle, nuthatch, and the much sought Jerdon's bush cat inhabit Doi Phu Kha National Park. In spite of the park being a protected area, significant portions have been destroyed by corrupt officials who cut down the trees for commercial use.
Ecological Role of National Parks in Thailand
Thailand's national parks provide safe habitats for some of the country's most endangered plants and animal species. They also preserve the natural landscape from destruction by human activities. The Rangers in the park help in the conservation efforts. However, poachers and illegal loggers pose a threat to the resources in the park.