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Maya Bay’s long road to recovery

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Maya Bay’s long road to recovery | The Thaiger
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by Kornrawee Panyasuppakun and The Thaiger

Phi Phi tour operators are crying foul and seeking assistance from authorities after the local tourist magnet, Maya Bay has been declared ‘closed indefinitely’ pending further rehabilitation of the corals around the bay.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) is extending the closure of Maya Bay’s Had Nopparat Tara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park in Krabi with no clear schedule for when it might re-open. The announcement was published on Monday in the Royal Gazette and has made global headlines yesterday – CNN and express.co.uk amongst many others.

According to environmental inspectors, the current ecosystem has not recovered sufficiently so tourism activities in and around Maya Bay remain banned from October 1 onwards until the marine and coastal ecosystem is back to its normal state.

The Nation reports that the order earlier this year gave the beach a four month break from tourists – from June to September. The move was an attempt to save the battered coral reefs at the |sugary-white beach made famous by the 2000 Hollywood film “The Beach”, from the year-round tourist traffic.

After the island closed its doors, the national park and wildlife authority started planting hundreds of corals in Maya Bay, and some have started growing branches, DNP director-general Jongklai Worapongsatorn said, adding a baby shark was also spotted in the bay that was once filled with tour boats.

However, despite some good news, the bay’s marine ecosystem remained very fragile and only 30 per cent had recovered, said director Songtham Suksawang of the department’s National Park Office. Prior to the closure, most of the corals in Maya Bay had died, crushed by boats and their anchors, he said. Also, the sand on the beach was disappearing under the weight of 5,000 tourists who visited the island daily, he added.

Maya Bay's long road to recovery | News by The Thaiger

But not everyone is happy with the continued closure.

Wattrapol Chanthararo, chairman of the Koh Phi Phi tourism business club, said the tourist ban on Maya Bay will affect their business as tourists had already booked travel packages. The ban was imposed without hearing their opinions, he claims. They would meet to discuss the matter and hand over a letter to Krabi’s provincial governor.

He said a meeting of club members would be called on October 8 or 9 to discuss ways around the problems caused by the department’s latest announcement. Their conclusions would be forwarded to the Krabi governor and the related agencies.

Songtham said: “We understand tourism is a source of income for the community and the country, but if we continue to exploit the natural heritage until it is beyond recovery, tourism would completely end since no one would come anymore.

“Today the corals are growing steadily. If we open Maya Bay to tourists now, they will die and the lost marine ecosystem may take decades, not just years, to recover,” he warned.

The director pointed out that corals at Koh Yoong, a famous snorkelling site for example, had recovered well after tourism was banned for just two years.

There are many other attractions in Krabi province and the nearby provinces such as Koh Poda, Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Hong, and Separated Sea (Thale Waek), Songtham suggested.

While Maya Bay is out of bounds to tourists, the DNP is drawing up a sustainable tourism plan. The boats would have to dock at floating piers at the back of the island, and the number of boats and tourists will be limited.

In the near future, the tour boats would be visiting the island in allotted shifts and vacation-makers would need to make bookings before visiting Maya Bay. All these ideas are being considered by the authority and marine experts.

Maya Bay's long road to recovery | News by The Thaiger

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Krabi

Missing man’s body found in Krabi forest, wife believes he was killed

Caitlin Ashworth

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Missing man’s body found in Krabi forest, wife believes he was killed | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

The body of a missing man was found by locals walking through a forest in Krabi’s Plai Phraya district. The man’s wife believes he was murdered, but police have not announced if they will open a homicide investigation, saying they are waiting for autopsy results.

47 year old Arun Sittisang went missing in May. Authorities who initially examined the body believe he has been dead for at least 3 months. His wife, 47 year old Sujit Kaewwihok, travelled from Nakhon Si Thammarat to identify the body and says she thinks Arun was killed.

Arun’s 21 year old daughter says her father contacts the family on a regular basis since he often travels, but he suddenly stopped calling in May.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand| Thairath

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Environment

Koh Phi Phi marine park dive site closed off for the next 2 years after karst island collapse

Caitlin Ashworth

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Koh Phi Phi marine park dive site closed off for the next 2 years after karst island collapse | The Thaiger
PHOTO: National News Bureau

A popular dive site in the Koh Phi Phi National Park will be closed off for the next 2 years after 30,000 tonnes of rock broke off of a karst island, falling into sea and onto a coral reef.

Koh Mae Urai is a karst formation between Koh Phi Phi and the Krabi mainland. A large chunk of the rock formation collapsed last week and broke into 2 pieces, damaging the coral reef at a popular dive site known for its 2 underwater tunnels lined with soft and hard corals.

Chief of the national park, Prayoon Phongphan, says 300 square metres of the reef is damaged. A project is in the works to help recover the reef.

“These include staghorn coral, big star corals, ring corals, floral corals and brain corals, among others.”

The area was recently inspected by divers and national park officers as well as geologists from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Prayoon says they’ll close off the area for the next 2 years.

“The area where the island collapsed will be sealed off for 2 years for the safety of local fishermen and tourists. It is possible that more of the island will break off… Officials have already installed buoys and red flags to make sure no one enters the area. Park officers will also regularly patrol the area.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Krabi

Krabi beach stray dogs attack 4 year old boy

The Thaiger

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Krabi beach stray dogs attack 4 year old boy | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77kaoded

A 4 year old boy was attacked on Klong Hang beach, Ao Nang, in Krabi by a pack of stray dogs. The young boy, Attachai, was with his mother, brothers and sisters, playing on the popular beach at the front of a hotel yesterday morning.

A pack of 4 local stray dogs were lurking nearby. 2 of them ran at the young boy. As Attachai tried to run away the 2 dogs kept attacking and biting at his legs. The dogs kept biting and snapping at his legs and tried to drag him away before the hotel’s gardener came to the rescue to help the distressed mother.

Attachai was quickly taken to hospital.

Local rescue volunteers told 77kaoded that the attack was the first attack of its kind since 5 year old Finnish boy was attacked in February 2019.

After last years attack, the Chief of Krabi Provincial Livestock said that 13 strays had been caught at Ao Nang Beach.

“One of the dogs has been kept and tested for rabies. We are finding other places for these stray dogs.”

PHOTOS & VIDEO: 77kaoded

Krabi beach stray dogs attack 4 year old boy | News by The Thaiger

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