PHANG-NGA - PARC NATIONAL DE MU KOH RA - KOH PHRA THONG
There was a rumor in 1998 that some capitalists trying to ask permission for using the areas in Ra Island and Phra Thong Island for their own benefit
The head of Surin Island National Park at that time, Mr Dittaphong Chokkanapitak, issued an urgent letter, Khor Chor 0713 (Mor Sor) /116 in August 16, 1998, of Surin Island National Park Office to ask National Park Division to request the Royal Forest Department to prohibit renting the areas around Ra Island and to conserve the areas for being the parts of Surin Island National Park
After that, Surin Island National Park Office issued a letter to Royal Forest Department to propose that the area of Ra Island and Phra Thong Island and nearby is appropriate for being a national park
Therefore, in March 28, 2000, Dr Plodprasop Suraswadee, Minister of Royal Forest Department, signed on a document KhorSor 0712.5/981/March 15, 2000 of the National Park Division to appoint Mr. Thanapong Apai-so, Forestry Academic Officer 6 of Surin National Park Office, to initially survey the area around Ra Island, Phra Thong Island, and in mangrove forest nearby in Khura Buri District and Takuapa District, Phang-Nga Province.
The initial survey resulted that the surveyed area, covered 642 sq.km with 296.2 squares km on water and 329.7 squares km on land, consisted of productively natural resources including plants, animals and varied types of geography appropriate for declaring a national park.
Thus, the Royal Forest Department then issued a document, No 1868/2543 in September 25, 2000, to inform Mr. Thanapong Apai-so to survey and declare the areas in Ra Island, Phra Thong Island and the mangrove forest nearby in Khura Buri District and Takuapa District, Phang-Nga Province, to be a national park.
As a result, it made some leaderships in the local area lose their benefit, so in November 23, 2000, they led local people in holding demonstration against the declaration of the national park by claiming the problem of local fishery to be the main propose.
The event took place in front of Khura Buri Municipal Office, and had some leaderships take one turn on stage to address against the declaration of the national park.
The governments officers, Mr. Manit Wattanasen, Vice Governor of Phang-Nga Province, Mr. Yod Khirirat, Royal Forest Department Officer of Nakhon Si Thamarat Province, and Mr. Thanapong Apai-so, Head of Khao Ra and Khao Phra Thong National Park, explained the fact to the people to come to an understanding.
After that, the protesters signed their names on the proposals to file to Phang-Nga Province authority to stop the declaration of the national park, in which the province authority accepted for sending to the Royal Forest Department, and the protesters ended the demonstration.
The survey had been continued ever since.
Until May 16, 2001, about 300 local people stormed to blow up the temporary office of Khao Ra and Khao Phra Thong National Park in Seng Bay, Village No 3, Khao Phra Thong Sub-district, Khura Buri District, Phang-Nga Province, and forced its officers to move the ruin away from the island.
After that time, on the season of changing position, the Royal Forest Department has appointed Mr. Yudthana Sattakul, Forestry Officer 5, to be the head of Khao Ra and Khao Phra Thong National Park.
Mr. Yudthana, then, coordinated with District Chief Officers, heads of local people, and heads of local government service concerned to establish a new temporary office, which has still been there ever since, at the same place in July 19, 2001.
In general, the area, located the west of Phang-Nga Province, consists of sinking seashore and productive mud-beaches on estuaries of many long rivers.
The area is influenced by ebb and high tide of the sea.
There are high mountains and islands lie north and south such as, Ra Island with the mountains about 235 meters above sea level, Phra Island with plain area, Kho Khao Island with high mountain about 310 meters above sea level, and many small islands such as Pling Island, Tachai Island and Bosai Island which has the highest mountain about 450 meters above sea level.
Ra Island and Phra Thong Island are situated close to each other.
The area is in tropical climate.
It has heavy rain all the year round because of being influenced by southeastern monsoon and northeastern monsoon.
There are two seasons; rainy season starts from April to November with 2,125 mm. of rain all the year round and the highest rain in September with 366 mm. of rain; and summer starts from December to March, which also has some rain, with the highest temperature is 38 Celsius in April and approximated temperature is 29 Celsius.
FLORA AND FAUNA
There are five types of forest follows a survey.
There is rain forest covered mountainous areas in Ra Island, foothill, and on the ridge which has its noted plants such as Yang, Suregada multiflorum Baill, the lower plants such as Mapring (a type of Anacardiaceae), Masan (a type of Dilleniaceae), Knema linifolia Warb, and shrub such as Licuala paludosa Griff, ratten, Pandanus etc.
There is mangrove forest along the seashores and in the bays which have been influenced by rivers and the ebb and high tide of the sea.
When seeing aerial photograph, the mangrove forest is very long from Thung Nangdam Village southward to Khor Khao Island, Takuapa District. Plants found are small-leaf and big-leaf mangrove swamp, Samare Khao and Samare Dam (a type of Myrsinaceae), palmae such as Mangrove Date Palm and Oncosperma horrida Scheff, and shrub such as Finlaysonia maritima Back and Sea Holly.
There are beach forests in the areas that have never been covered by sea water in Ra Island and Phra Thong Island. Plants found are pine, tabebuia, Portia tree, Masan (a type of Dilleniaceae), Pandanus, and shrub such as beach morning glory.
The tin mine in Phrathong Island makes the area unproductive.
Plants found are paper bark tree clustered near ponds and scattered in plain area.
There is widespread sea grass in Thung Nang Dam Beach, from Visual Estimation Survey.
The area is in the beach of Khura Estuary, in which the water is quite clear, extended to Nang Dam Beach.
Between the beach and the seashore is a big pond suitable for sea grass so there have eight types of sea grass growing in the area about 1.38 squares kilometers, such as, by descending order, Cymodocea serrulata, Halodule uninervis H. ovalis, Syringodium isoetipolium, Enhalus acoroides, Halophrii and H. minor.
More over, there is sea grass growing in the east of Ra Island.
Sea grass is very useful for example; it is the habitat, feeding area, breeding area and shelter of many kinds of sea animals such as shrimp, crab and fish, and of bigger animals such as sea turtle and dugong.
Now, sea grass is being deteriorated.
Because there has been being fished by using some types of fishing devices and in the water has more sediment caused by the development of the land nearby.
Therefore, that harms the sea grass and affects the sea animals.
The best way to conserve the environment along the beaches is the government service should come up for strictly controlling using this area.
From the exploration of all the islands in the area, the explorer divides the animals by their habitat and records the animals found by using binocular and asking information from local people as follows.
From the elementary survey, the mammals found in this area are wild deer, wild boar, spectacled langur, crab-eating macaque, palm civet, smooth-coated otter, pangolin, plantain squirrel, gray-bellied squirrel, island flying fox, Malayan flying lemur, and island rat for examples.
In addition, from the interview of local people and the survey of Polaris Plane, a slow speed airplane that flies only about 70-80 km. per hour and 200-1,000 feet high, in 100-200 squares kilometers of 8 areas in Phang-Nga Province, Krabi Province and Satun Province, between January 31, 1997 and April 10, 1997 shows that.
There were 1-6 dugongs in Thung Nang Dam Village, Khura Buri District, Phang-Nga Province.
And in July 23, 1998, local people had often seen dugongs trapped in fish stakes east of Ra Island and Thung Nang Dam Bay.
That means there still are dugongs in the area.
Now, dugong has rarely been found in the sea of Thailand because it is a sea-grass-feeding animal and an animal-for-food of fishermen.
The more fishing boats are efficiency and bought, the more dugongs are caught.
So it might have become extinct in Thailand not very far from now.
Dugong is an important animal in sea grass area in which has been urgently needed to be conserved for continuously being there forever.
Birds found are lesser adjutant, black and red broadbill, and wreathed hornbill for examples.
Also, there is a bird explorations report in Ra Island and Phra Thong Island, reported by foreign academic who had been staying there for a year, says that there are 106 types of bird in the area.
From a survey, there are reptiles such as land monitor, monitor lizard, python, Colubridae, skink, fresh water turtle for examples.
There are foreign researchers come to study sea turtle and found that; in the east of Ra Island and Phra Thong Island, there are leatherback turtle, olive ridley turtle and green turtle.
The turtles also come to lay their eggs on the beaches in the area between November and January every year.
Now the life expectancy rate of the turtle is sharply dropped because the fishermen in the area use some types of fishing devices such as trawl that makes the number of adult turtle also dropped.
Therefore, the area needs a good way to deal with sea turtle both to conservation and to protection.
The surveyed area is on the sea so that there are economically valuable fish especially in mangrove forest, as asking from local people, for examples, barred tiger-fish, sea catfish, red snapper, anchovy, blowfish, needlefish, and trevally.
And in coral reefs are, for examples, lion fish, coral cod, snapper, butterfly fish, rabbit fish, tomato anemone fish, surgeon fish, and blow fish.
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