Khao Sok National Park is home to an incredibly diverse range of beautiful and truly amazing wildlife, many of which are under threat or listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. With 48 recorded mammals, over 300 species of birds, 30 different species of bat and countless reptiles and insects, Khao Sok is estimated to contain around five percent of the world’s species.
Situated in Thailand’s southern Surat Thani Province it covers an isolated region of 739 km², and is also home to the popular 165 km² Cheow Lan Lake, created by the Ratchaprapha Dam in 1987. Positioned in the heart of a network of five national parks and wildlife sanctuaries that make up the largest protected forest in southern Thailand, Khao Sok is the remnant of a 160-million-year-old rainforest that is said to be older and more biodiverse than the Amazon jungle.
The park’s larger species of mammals include the barking deer; mouse deer; squirrel; muntjac; dusky langur; as well as the gaur, sambar deer, southern pig-tailed macaque, listed as Vulnerable; and the white-handed gibbon, wild boar, serow, banteng, Asian elephant and Malayan tapir, listed as Endangered.
Among the park’s huge variety of bird species, and those you are more likely to see are the osprey; brahminy kite; and rufous-collared kingfisher; the Great hornbill, listed as Vulnerable; white-crowned hornbill, listed as Endangered; and the helmeted hornbill and blue-banded kingfisher, listed as Critical.
Khao Sok National Park was once home to tigers, but have not been seen for several years. Perhaps they’re playing out their mysterious lives deep in less accessible areas, hidden by the park’s rugged terrain. There is however evidence that smaller species of cat are present, such as the beautiful marbled cat, a mainly tree-dwelling species, not much larger than its domestic cousin. With a coat that is a patchwork of beige, amber and chocolate against striking black markings, the marbled cat – listed as Near Threatened – is similar to the larger clouded leopard, which has also been observed with the use of carefully positioned camera traps – one of the best ways to document evidence of the park’s nocturnal creatures.
Though it may not be easy to find larger mammals in Khao Sok’s accessible areas, there are more opportunities to spot reptiles and amphibian species, including lizards and snakes, which can be found along trails leading to the park’s waterfalls and some of its caves, like Pra Kay Petch (diamond) and Pakaran (coral) caves. The national park is also home to the world’s only known amphibious centipede (Scolopendra cataracta), which was only discovered in 2001, on the banks of a stream. Growing up to 20 centimeters in length it is even larger than the giant centipede found throughout Southeast Asia.
While the park’s diversity of mammals and bird species is broad, you are unlikely to spot much wildlife in the park’s popular tourist areas, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled during some of the eco-friendly activities and along the hiking trails at Anurak Community Lodge. Wild boar and deer may occasionally show up on trails, and banded-langurs are quite common at the park’s campsite or on trails in the area of Khao Sok National Park headquarters.
At our Anurak Community Lodge, located in a tranquil, less-visited area on the edge of Khao Sok National Park, we offer a wide range of eco-activities, including trekking, kayaking, rafting and tubing that take you to areas of Khao Sok and Klong Phanom National Park, which are well off the well-trodden tourist trails in pristine areas of jungle. Our guides are all locals, who have an in-depth knowledge of the region’s flora and fauna. As reformed hunters they have a keen eye for spotting wildlife, which they will excitedly point out to you. Gibbons can also be occasionally sighted, especially in the morning, and you will almost certainly hear their mournful cries echoing through the trees from your eco-friendly stilted bungalow.
Several of our tour packages also include an overnight stay at a raft house on Cheow Lan Lake, from where it is possible to take boat trips to remote areas of the lake to spot wildlife, or take part in a night safari, when the eerie screeches, cackles and squeaks of the night foragers gives the park a whole different persona.
If you’re itching to see the amazing wildlife that Khao Sok National Park has to offer, book your stay at Anurak Community Lodge here.