Severe drought in Uthai Thani prompts wildlife migration, risks for locals

Picture courtesy of Thana Boonlert, Bangkok Post

Uthai Thani’s Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is grappling with a severe drought attributed to the El Nino phenomenon, prompting elephants and various other species to migrate into nearby regions in search of food, according to an official announcement.

The sanctuary’s wildlife breeding station chief, Tonsak Nipanan, stated that wildlife has encroached upon the station’s area and beyond. The breeding station, spanning nearly 2,000 rai, is situated within the Huay Salao and Huay Khok Khwai forests in Lansak district’s Rabam tambon. It is located on the periphery of the Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary where wildlife migration is proliferating.

On August 13, a local was tragically killed by a wild elephant in an area slated for the sanctuary’s expansion, which spans portions of Uthai Thani, Kanchanaburi, and Tak provinces. As a result, Tonsak warned hikers to be vigilant of potential threats from wildlife within the Huay Kha Khaeng vicinity, reported Bangkok Post.

Tonsak attested that the sanctuary’s breeding station under his care is minimally affected by the drought due to the presence of three reservoirs, covering 17, 7, and 3 rai of land each, which retain water for the animals. However, a 12-kilometre-long fence built along one section of the breeding station’s border has proven insufficient to effectively confine wildlife, particularly migrating elephants.

Currently, the breeding station is home to approximately 400 wild animals, primarily hog deer and eld’s deer. Plans are in motion to release some of these animals into the Huay Salao and Huay Thap Rabam no-hunting zones to boost nature tourism.

The station is also caring for 11 tigers and seven leopards that were relocated while young. The Huay Kha Khaeng wildlife breeding station is open for nature and wildlife studies every day from 8.30am to 4.30pm.

However, Tonsak indicated that the wildlife station opening hours might need to be modified for safety reasons due to the presence of roaming wild elephant migration in the vicinity.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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