Khao Sok NP

Khao Sok national park (Thai: เขาสก) is located in Surat Thani province in Thailand. Its land area is 739 km², and it includes the Chiao Lan reservoir dammed by the Ratchaprapha dam. The park comprises the largest area of virgin forest in Southern Thailand and is a remnant of rainforest which is older and more diverse than the Amazon Rainforest. The wild mammals include, Malayan Tapir, Asian Elephant, Tiger, Sambar Deer, Bear, Guar, Banteng, Serow, Wild Boar, Pig Tailed Macaque, Langur, White handed Gibbon, Squirrel, Muntjak and Mouse Deer.

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It is perhaps most famous for the Bua Phut (Rafflesia kerrii) flower which grows within the park. In addition to its exotic flora, Khao Sok is inhabited by a wide variety of animals, including gibbons and barking deer.

The 94 m high Ratchaprapha dam was built in 1982 at the Khlong Saeng River, a tributary of the Phum Duang River.

The National Park covers an area of 739 km2.
Thanks to two other protected areas (Klong Saers and Khlong Nakha) next to Khao Sok the actual protected area measures almost 4000 km2.

Khao Sok is the wettest area in all of Thailand, because it is situated at the mountain ridge separating the west coast from the east coast. Winds from both Thailand’s gulf in the east and from the Andaman Sea in the west blow monsoon rain into the area. It can rain as much as 3500 mm (3,5 m) in one year.

Late December to early February is the driest period with just a little or no rainfall.

The dominant forest is lowland rainforest. The rainforest in Southeast Asia is 160 million years old, which makes it the oldest rainforest on earth.

Khao Sok is well known for its beautiful limestone mountains.The highest limestone peak is 960 m high, but the normal height is 400-600m.

40% foothill rainforest, 27% rainforest plants, 15% limestone crag vegetation, 15% lowland scrub, 3% rainforest at 600-1000m.

The nature has more in common with the Malaysian forest than the forest in the north of Thailand. The forest in Khao Sok is taller, darker, more humid and evergreen. There are approximately 200 different floral spices per hectare.

Thailand lost almost 75 % of its forest during the 20th century. Illegal logging: Logging1989 saw the creation of a law that totally banded logging in Thai rainforest. Even so, illegal logging with the help of elephants is still practiced in the Khao Sok area. The elephant is often preferred over modern technology, because the elephant can move through the forest very quietly.

Some history

*345 million years ago…
Khao Sok was covered in a delta system (similar to today’s Mississippi delta).

The landmasses started to erode and mudstone and soil fell into the delta. This made both the rivers and the sea shallow and corals and other organism where developed.

*280-55 million years ago…
More eroded mudstone and soil fell into the delta, and this created the limestone we see today.

Fossils from this period tell us that the sea was warm at that time and that Khao Sok was part of a huge coral reef, stretching all the way from China to Borneo. The coral reef was 5 times bigger than today’s “Great Barrier Reef” in Australia.

Granite mixed with limestone and other chemicals, and a lot of tin and tungsten was made.

*66 millions years ago…
Today’s landscape was founded. The limestone was forced upwards when the Indian land-plate crashed into the Eurasian plate. (This happened at the same time as the Himalayan was formed. As the Himalayan Mountain rose, Thailand was moved southeastwards).

The ice age never affected Khao Sok much. The ice never reached this far south in Asia, leaving the landscape and the rivers as they where. When the ice melted again, more water than ever floated into the rivers of Khao Sok, making the flora even richer than it was before.

That is why the rainforest in Khao Sok is older than the forests of Central America and the Amazons, which were covered with ice.

*50 000 – 37 000 years ago…
At this time Khao Sok’s mountains belonged to the same mountain ridge as Borneo.

Evidence has been found of human habitation on Borneo from this period. It is believed that the same people inhabited Khao Sok as well, since the landscape, with all its caves, fruits, plants and animals, was similar to Borneo’s landscape.

*In 1800…
The first historical evidence of human inhabitants in Khao Sok is from 1800. It was during the rule of Rama II and the conflict between Burma and Thailand. A group of survivors from the west coast were forced to hide away in the forest. They discovered the richness of the forest and quickly learned agriculture, fishing and hunting in order to survive.

Quite a lot of the forest was cut down to make room for the growing population.

*In 1944…
A deadly epidemic swept trough the same group of people. The few survivors moved away and the old village was named “Ban Sop”-The village of the dead.

The jungle could rest for a while.

*In 1961…
A road was build straight across the area, to connect Surrathani on the east coast and Phang Nga on the west coast.

Many people settled down along the road and cut down trees and vegetation to give room for houses and plantations. The area was rich with tin and timber, and the government began to sell properties for logging and minding.

It was a big loss for the forest.

*In 1971…
It was discovered that the old delta system was nearly intact and Khao Sok was considered as a possible el-supply for southern Thailand. The area was inspected furthered and people started to realize the wealth of vegetation, animals, limestone mountains and waterfalls. It was decided that all logging and minding should stop, but it took many years before this actually came into effect.

*In 1976 –1980…
A group of communistic students failed to make the changes they wanted in the community, and ended up being considered outlaws. They camped far inside the jungle to avoid the army, which was looking for them.

These conflicts made part of the human population in Khao Sok disappear and the rainforest had a chance to breathe.

*In 1980…
Khao Sok was official established as Thailand’s 22nd national park on the 22nd of December and measured 645 km2.

Later the same year, the borders of the national park were changed to make it possible to flood an area inside Khao Sok, to build the Rachabrapha dam. The dam still supplies large parts of Southern Thailand with electricity.

A huge rescue operation to save the wildlife took place before the flooding. More than 1300 birds, mammals and reptiles was captured and moved away from the area. Sadly, the operation was aimed more at helping on the human consciousness, than to actually save the wildlife. A majority of the animals died during the relocation. It was a major blow to the wildlife.

*In 2001…
The national park was extended from 645 km2 to 739 km2. The number of wild animals is constantly increasing, and the area surrounding the Rachabrapha dam (the Cheo Larn lake) is once again full of life.

*In 2012…
You visited Khao Sok and had the time of your life :-)

(information sources: Wikipedia and Khao Sok Treehouse)

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