SATUN - THALE BAN NATIONAL PARK
Thale Ban National Park was declared as the 20th National Park in Thailand on 27th October 1980
The park encompasses a total area of 196 km2
Thaleban is approximately 1,000 km south of Bangkok, in the province of Satun
The park covers the mountainous border area between Satun province, Thailand and Perlis state, Malaysia
The park headquaters are located in a valley which runs through the mountains, and is situated only 2kms from the border
This valley is a historic link between the two countries and this has influenced the development of the area by mixing Malaysian with the original Thai culture
The names of many park locations are actually Malaysian in origin
The name Thaleban is thought to be derived from the Malay words "Leur aud ga ban" which describes a low lying area of marshland.
Local folklore describes the valley as once being fertile agricultural land.
Then around 300 years ago an event occured which changed the face of the valley.
According to a local folkstory the land rumbled and shook for many days, when this had ceased the lake appeared.
The earthquake which is suggested by this story probably triggered a landslide which blocked the valley, thus damming the stream to form a lake.
It is possible that an earthquake did occur as the remains of many large trees have been recovered from the bottom of the lake, showing it was forested in the recent past.
Samples of logs recovered from the lake can be viewed in the visitors centre.
Talaybun National Park is situated between Kwuan Doan District and Muang District, Satun Province, with the following adjacent territory:
- Facing Tu Yoh Canal, Tambon Wangprachan, Kwuan Doan District, Satun province
- Bordering Sadao District, Songkhla province
- Bordering the Malaysian State of Perlis
- Facing the Andaman Sea, Indian Ocean
Most of the area is mountainous with lush forest.
Existing lime stone hills which are constantly washed by the underground water results in large cavity or even a large cave such as Toan Din Cave, Pah Deo Cave and Pooyoo Cave.
Moreover, the dissolved underground lime stone burrow also result in the sea swamps in the area.
The highest mountain in this area is Chin mountain, 756 meters from the average sea water level.
Satun province is normally affected directly by the South-Westerly wind from the Indian Ocean in May through to October and just when the South-Westerly wind is weakening North-Easterly wind from China will move in.
However, since Satun province is situated on the west side of the shore line no direct impact from the North-Easterly wind is found, though, during October through to November, there could be certain amount of rainfall which will start decrease accordingly.
During December to March, the weather can be quite dry due to the South-Easterly wind which will cause an increase in temperature during these months.
Average temperature in the area is 27.5 degree Celsius, highest average temperature is 38.9 degree Celsius in April and the lowest average temperature is 17 degree Celsius in February.
Average annual rainfall is 2,280.9 millimeters, with January being the month with lowest rainfall at 7.2 millimeters and September being the month with highest rainfall at 377.8 millimeters.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The National Park contains 3 terrestrial habitats these are;
Tropical evergreen forest occurs in the section of the park to the northeast of the valley.
This forest covers the hills which rise to over 700m, here the rainfall is high and the granite bedrock retains adequate moisture in the soil all year round.
This forest also occurs as gallery forests along the waterways in the drier parts of the park.
This forest type is very diverse and in places species diversity is greater than 200 tree species per square kilometer.
In certain places this forest has a highly specialised canopy structure often with several layers and the tallest emergent trees being over 60m tall.
Open Forest and grass fields - most of the grass fields are covered with lalang grass while other common vegetations are Kradoan, Tabak, Croton and Saan.
Mangroves Forest Vegetation found in Mangrove forest (along the west region of the National Park) are Mangroves, Proang and Sea Jelutongs.
The forests support a wide range of medium and small sized animals including, Tapir, Serow, Wild pig, Barking deer, Macaques, Langurs, Gibbon, Fishing cats, several Civet and Squirrel species.
In the trees around headquaters Squrrels can be seen almost everday, Flying lizards, Skinks and Tree-snakes are also encountered.
In the forest around headquaters; Wild pig, civets, langurs and gibbons can be heard and occasionally seen.
Down by the lake, Macaques can be seen most days, especially early in the morning, this is also the best time to see the rare frog, Rana glandulosa.
Sightings of this frog are rare but few visitors come here and fail to hear its distinctive dog like call.
This call leads to its Thai name of "Mah Nham" or "Water dog".
In the meadows of Wangprahchan different species are more likely to be seen, Pangolin, Mouse deer, Barking deer and Malayan sunbear are all reported.
The meadows are also good for wildflowers, birdwatching, trekking and camping.
In 1994 a wildlife survey team were very fortunate to flush a pair of Asian Golden cats out of some long grass only 300m from the park substation.
The team watched them dissappear into a patch of scrub forest, their guide was shocked as he had walked along the trail almost every day and never encountered the cats before.
Mammals are found 64 types, 3 of which are conserved wildlife - Pardofelis marmorata, Tapirus indicus and Capricornis sumatraensis.
One mammals never before found in the country - horseshoe bat - is also found.
Birds are found 282 types, most of them are protected wildlife (under Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act B.E.2535) such as roulrouls, white-crowned hornbills, black hornbills, white-bellied woodpeckers.
Reptiles are found 40 types, for example, spiny terrapins, black tortoises, cobras, king cobras, flying geckos.
Amphibians in the frogs and toads species are found 20 types.
Numerous types of fishes, for example, stonerollers and eels are found due to the fact there is a large swamps in the National Park.
Thaleban is a popular destination for birdwatchers with year round attraction.
The park boasts a bird list of 282 recorded species and offers the opportunity of observing forest species more typical of Malaysia than Thailand.
The park list currently includes 8 species of hornbill. this is more species than for any other protected area in Thailand, including such places as Khao Yai National Park which is famous for its wildlife and is over 10 times the size.
The species of hornbill recorded at Thaleban are; Rhinocerous hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), Great hornbill (B. bicornis), Helmeted hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil), Black hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus), Wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus), Bushy creasted hornbill (Anorrhinus galeritus), White crowned hornbill (Berenicornis comatus) and Wrinkled hornbill (Rhyticeros corrugatus).
Of these species Great, Wreathed, White crowned and Bushy creasted are the most commonly encountered.
Sightings of Helmeted and Black hornbill are occasional, and records of Wrinkled and Rhinoceros hornbill are very rare.
The chances of seeing Hornbills varies throughout the year with the period just after nesting when the young first leave the nest being the best time to see them, at this time of year some birds form massive roosting flocks.
One such flock of Great hornbills included over 130 birds which came to roost in the trees overlooking the lake.
Another attraction is the seasonal migration of Raptors which fly over the park.
In October and March each year.
The flocks of raptors follow the valley as they migrate between north and south.
The migrations only last a few days and vary depending upon weather conditions, but at its peak over 1,000 birds pass over the headquaters in 24 hours.
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