A project to conserve the smooth-coated otter, Asian small-clawed otter and the Siamese crocodile that live along the Petchburi River in Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan National Park. The project team will count the diversity and number of species using regular, scientific, and systematic field surveys while navigating the river in rafts. In addition to the inventory of species in the river, the team will also monitor the health of the forest, the vegetation along the river, activities of people within the area, and natural characteristics of the sites. These studies will lead to long-term preservation and recovery strategies for the animals, plants and natural areas within the park. These strategies include improved habitat management, law-enforcement, long-term wildlife monitoring, capacity-building for government staff and research students, and awareness raising for local schools and community members.
Research: Field surveys of rivers and tributaries for target species, as well as birds and fish. Camera traps along river banks.
Practice: Improved habitat management, law-enforcement, long-term wildlife monitoring, capacity-building for government staff and research students.
Outreach: Awareness raising in schools and with community members. Recruit community members as field rangers.
Project location - Thailand, Asia
February 18, 2023
Dr. Steve Platt, lead herpetologist for Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Thailand, led a two-day training workshop entitled “Siamese Crocodile Recovery” at Kaeng Krachan National Park.
The main objective was identifying ways to secure the future of Siamese crocodile in the Petchburi River and other potential sites in Thailand. The 20 participants in attendance comprised conservationists, government agencies and academics. Sat the end of the workshop, the attendees all agreed that the Kaeng Krachan National Park held the highest potential for the recovery and reintroduction of Siamese Crocodiles. The lower part of the Petchburi River called “Mae Pradone”, was also earmarked for reintroduction.
January 31, 2023
Due to the demonstrated success of this project, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Thailand is continuing with the SMART patrol system by working with Kaeng Krachan National Park (KKNP) Rangers. The main objective of these patrols is to reduce poaching threats, especially in the upper Petchburi River Basin.
This is no easy task as five teams patrol a vast area approximately of 614 km2 patrolling on average 245km/month. Between 1st May 2022 and 31st January 2023, the rangers have encountered and destroyed 16 poacher camps, one poacher hide, and seized two firearms.
They also analysed footage received from 15 camera traps which were installed along the river, capturing 181 incidents of smooth-coated otters and one of a Siamese crocodile. To date the team has captured 312 incidents of Smooth-coated otters and 27 of crocodiles on camera.
This is an incredible effort, and the results speak for themselves.
Click on each thumbnail to enlarge and read the captions
September 12, 2022
A six-day refresher SMART patrol training course for 35 park rangers took place on Monday, 12th September.
The refresher training was conducted by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Thailand skilled trainers and focused on improving patrol skills including SMART patrol data collection, map reading, and basic use of GPS.
The WCS provided equipment and field gear to all rangers who participated in the training.
August 31, 2022
Conservation partner WCS – Thailand provided five Garmin 65s GPS units to the Kaeng Krachan National Park (KKNP) patrol teams. This new equipment will help park rangers’ effectiveness in the field given its multi-band technology which enables access to satellites for a faster, more accurate positioning fix. These devices also have TopoActive maps, a magnetic compass and barometric altimeter for precise reporting.
From 1 February to 31 August 2022, the five-team patrols conducted 280 patrol trips, covering 510 sq.km equal to 26% of the upper Phetchaburi River basin. Foot, vehicle and boat patrols averaged 1,150 km per month and detected human activity including fishing and extraction of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), in particular bamboo. They encountered eight poachers, arresting three of them, confiscated four weapons, four wildlife carcasses and destroyed 19 poacher camps and three poacher hides. On a positive note, they found a declining trend of human activity along the Phetchaburi River since the project began. Working closely with the park rangers we will continue to assist KKNP patrol planning performance with the aim of reducing poaching intensity.
Enjoy all the photographs of their findings by visiting this flickr photo album
July 25, 2022
During monitoring trips to known crocodile nesting sites at Wang Kha, along the Phetchaburi River, and utilising a drone to expand the search, our team discovered a mounding nest built using nearby vegetation 30 metres away from the old nesting site. Supported by Dr Steve Platt, WCS herpetologist and IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group member, our team checked the nest and uncovered 16 unfertilised eggs. The eggs were measured and weighed for future reference. It is hoped that this find will encourage the development of a Siamese crocodile recovery plan in cooperation with local government, in the near future.
June 30, 2022
Seven surveys were completed before July to avoid the heavy rains, flash floods and strong currents that make river conditions too dangerous for rafts. Each survey team comprises of 12-15 members made up of WCS staff, KKNP Officers and Rangers who spend five days on rafts per trip. These boat surveys are carried out to sample biotic and physical factors that might determine the location of Siamese crocodile, Smooth-coated otter and Asian small-clawed otter. They are also used as indicators of the level of human disturbance, vegetation, characteristics of the rivers, richness and abundance of fish.
During these trips three species of primate were observed including 17 of the Spectacled langur (Trachypithicus obscurus: EN), six of the Banded langur (Presbytis robisoni: NT) and one of the White-handed gibbon (Hylobates lar: EN). Our team recorded 14 different bird species, including three in the IUCN vunerable category, Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis), Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulates), and Black-capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) which was the most observed with 122 sightings . Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis: LC) and Lesser Fish Eagle (Icthyophaga humilis: NT) where also spotted.
April 30, 2022
During February to April 2022, three surveys were carried out along the Phetchaburi River and during one of these a smooth-coated otter was spotted. Camera trap points were installed at seven locations along the river to secure evidence of Siamese crocodile, 14 for otters and nine points for mammals in three tributaries. Already these cameras have captured images of otters, Siamese crocodile, tiger, leopard, gaur and sambar deer.
February 20, 2022
Between December and February our 14-member expedition crew completed three intensive surveys along the Phetchaburi River. The team positioned 21 camera traps at sun-basking sites, latrines and tributaries to monitor the habitat. The cameras captured 48 incidents of Smooth-coated otter, six of the Asian Small-clawed otter and five of the Siamese crocodile. The crew undertook analysis on foot patrols at a further six locations, walking for two kilometres at each site, recording tracks and signs of large mammals, human activities and threats.
Enjoy all the photographs from these expeditions by visiting this flickr photo album
Video of a Smooth-coated Otter family recorded 17 February 2022
January 31, 2022
During a boat expedition along the Phetchaburi River our survey team observed the Endangered Spectacled Langur, also known as the Dusky Leaf Monkey. There were also sightings of the Vulnerable Great Hornbill and Wreathed Hornbill and the Near Threatened Lesser Fish-eagle, Grey-headed Fish-eagle and Tickell’s Brown Hornbill.
See the wonderful photographs of all the species discovered by visiting this flickr photo album
January 27, 2022
November 30, 2021
The new SMART Patrol Monitoring Centre opened on 30 November attended by representatives from Thailand’s National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), our local partner (WCS) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The facility will support efficient monitoring of patrol works and strengthen the protection system of Kaeng Krachan National Park (KKNP), a registered UNESCO Natural World Heritage site. The space was immediately utilised for a Ranger refresher course focused on improving skills as well as SMART data collection during patrols. Bang Kloi village volunteers were also trained on conserving threatened wildlife, along the Phetchaburi River, including key species such as otters, crocodiles, and other large mammals.
September 1, 2021
A preliminary survey along the accessible part of Petchburi River in KKNP was conducted in June 2021. The survey team included 17 people (6 WCS and 11 KKNP staff and rangers) using 3 rafts. The total survey distance was 70 km along the river. We have setup four camera trap points in the spots where signs of otters (3 points) and tiger (1 point) were encountered. We conducted rapid assessments for 10 important tributaries. In each tributary, we covered about 0.5-1 km. We recorded six observations of otter scats, and three observations of Siamese crocodile, both by direct sightings and signs. Moreover, we recorded a direct sighting of a Siamese crocodile with estimated body length of 2 meter at a location about 20km up the river from the village. While conducting the boat survey, we observed fish-eagles, kingfishers, and langur. We also recorded data on poaching threats and all other human activities, especially poacher camps at the tributaries of Petchburi River. From this preliminary survey, the encounter rate of wildlife tracks was negatively associated with poacher camps. During 25-26 August 2021 WCS and KKNP staff conducted a further crocodile survey at “Wang Kha”, the location of an old nesting site, to monitor habitat-use, behavior, and sign of crocodile at site. We found signs, but without nesting evidence.