04.05.2009 - 10.05.2009 35 °C
One of my (unstated) aims with this trip is to find out how much wildlife there is in Northern Thailand and how easy it is to find it. Everybody knows about hill tribes. But what about animals? Gibbons (and orangutans) are one of my favourite primates (apes not monkeys). Do any exist in the north?
First attempt at finding wildlife: boat trip on the Salawin River. I asked our guide Un what animals existed in the park. The answer was monkeys, gibbons, small (civet) cat, and a few other animals. Most big animals like tiger and gaur have gone now. I looked but saw nothing. The animals are hiding in the depths of the jungle or have been eaten. Wildlife count from the Roadside Guesthouse: one humungous brown spider (not poisonous), one humungous cockroach (not poisonous but very ugly), a frog, a shiny green beetle, two common birds and a million ants.
Second attempt at finding wildlife: bus trip between Mae Sariang and Mae Hong Son. I dilligently looked through the trees for signs of birds (even though I was tightly gripping the seat in front of me) but saw nothing. Wildlife count from the Fern Resort: one yellow bird with a black head and cute little tuft, a few birds (heard but unseen), a few more birds (seen but not clearly), two squirrels, at least six different spiders (mostly huge) and a million and one ants (varying sizes).
Third attempt at finding wildlife: Cave Lodge near Soppong. Apparently there is a family of gibbons that sometimes hangs out near the exit to Tham Lod. John, the guesthouse owner, says he heard them in the nearby hills a couple of weeks agon. It seems that the wildlife in the north is quite dispersed. The forest is vast and the wildlife can travel, unlike in Khao Yai national park, which is like an island of jungle surrounded by fields - the wildlife has nowhere to go so is concentrated, hence easier to spot. I have already seen some squirrels here and several birds. The birdsong and cicada song is deafening in the morning.
More when I see it....
For the record: best places to spot wildlife in south-east Asia that I have been to are:
1. Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
2. Uncle Tan's jungle camp, Sabah, Malaysia
3. Taman Negara, Malaysia