Global Conservation is seeking to raise funding for a three-year program (2016-2018) to achieve ‘No Kill, No Cut’ in the Thap Lan National Park in Thailand.
Thap Lan National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site facing extreme threats from poaching of endangered wildlife and rosewood.
Global Conservation is working with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to enable Thap Lan to reverse threats and reach ‘No Kill, No Cut’ sustainable conservation within five years.
In July 2015, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has threatened to place the Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex (DPKY) on the World Heritage in Danger list due to “illegal Siamese rosewood logging, resource management for forest rangers, law enforcement, forest encroachment, the proposal to build a new highway in forestland and insufficient sustainable tourism development strategies”.
Thap Lan National Park is especially critical do to accelerating threats of poaching, encroachment and illegal logging in the central core of the Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex (DPKY) UNESCO World Heritage world heritage site. Just 3 hours northeast of Bangkok, Thap Lan National park is one of the last major intact forests and wildlife habitats in Thailand.
Saving the Last Intact Forests and Wildlife Habitat in Central Thailand
Thap Lan National Park is the central park of the Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex (DPKY), a UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed in 2005.
Global Conservation – Program Overview Thap Lan National Park, Thailand
Global Conservation is a U.S.-based NGO which has been asked by Thap Lan National Park and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation of the Government of Thailand to assist the endangered world heritage site to save the last remaining intact forests and wildlife populations.
Global Conservation will work with WCS and Thap Lan rangers to implement Global Park Defense – an integrated program of park demarcation, an informant reward system, SMART patrols, satellite and aerial surveillance, ground sensors and advanced communications to support Thap Lan’s over-stretched ranger teams to achieve ‘No Kill, No Cut’.
Global Park Defense rapidly increases the actual and perceived protection of the national park, greatly reducing illegal activities. At Thap Lan, Global Conservation will sponsor four Global Park Defense initiatives that work together to combat and eliminate illegal poaching, logging and mining using existing park ranger teams:
1) Border Demarcation
2) Informant Rewards System
3) Advanced Surveillance
4) SMART Ranger Patrols
To join the Global Park Defense program, the Thap Lan Park Director must secure government budget and install professional park border demarcation for over 30% of the park boundary in the first year and complete the entire park border within 3 years. Global Park Defense plaques are ten placed on or near park border signage which indicate the presence of Global Park Defense patrols and surveillance, and a anonymous informant reward.
Informant Rewards System
Global Park Defense plaques are attached on or near official park signage on the entire park border with a toll-free number to report illegal activities. An independent 24/7 call center logs and reports all legitimate calls which are professionally reviewed and dispatched. Internet teams of current and former 5 law enforcement officers, along with wildlife crime experts vet reports before forwarding to park authorities and law enforcement officers. Global Park Defense is an international and national supported fund that offers up to $1000 rewards for anonymous informers that result in a successful prosecution, and up to $200 in the case of a successful arrest. This anonymous informant reward system helps eliminate corruption by park officials as well as criminals destroying national and world heritage.
Global Park Defense implements the latest technologies from military and civil police for the national park including cellular and radio-based camera traps, seismic ground sensors and drone-based aerial surveillance combined with daily updated satellite imagery to increase overall surveillance of illegal activities and encroachment. Global Park Defense implements a state of the art computer and radio based Command and Control system and a park-wide radio network for ranger communications and sensor communications where there are no cellular networks.
SMART Ranger Patrols
The SMART system was designed by leading wildlife conservation groups and has been instrumental to the elimination of poaching and illegal activities in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex (WEFCOM), an over 6,000 square mile UNESCO World Heritage site. Global Conservation is funding WCS to replicate their proven success at WEFCOM at Thap Lan National Park and throughout the Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex (DPKY).
SMART Ranger Patrols increase patrol coverage, interdiction and perceived protection using GPS-based data collection to detect illegal poachers, loggers and encroachment early leading to greater arrests and prosecutions. Key forest and wildlife habitats are mapped combined with increased frequency of patrols in high-visibility and high-threat areas.
Thap Lan National Park - Background
Thap Lan National Park is one of the last intact forests and wildlife habitats for endangered tigers, elephants, Asiatic bear and hornbills in Thailand.
Thap Lan National Park is the central park, though less known, in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex (DPKY) inscribed in 2005. Thap Lan comprises some of the last intact forests and wildlife habitat for globally threatened and endangered species including tiger, Asian elephant, banteng, gaur, sambar, malayan sun bear, Asiatic black bear, hornbills and over 800 other faunal species.
The area contains the last substantial area of globally important tropical forest ecosystems of the Southeastern Indochina Dry Evergreen Forests. It is one of the rare forest landscapes in Thailand that supports two species of globally endangered pileated and white-handed gibbons.
The Last Tigers in Thailand
Outside of the Western Forest Complex (WEFCOM) along the border with Myanmar, Thap Lan National Park and its southern neighbor Pang Sida National Park, is the only intact habitat left where a tiger population can be recovered and repopulated. Khao Yai National Park next door in the DPKY already has lost its tigers due to illegal poaching.
With proper sustaining protection, tigers can be repopulated in the entire Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex. After the 3-5 year Global Park Defense program by Global Conservation, the world heritage sites protection will be upheld and enforced by the Government of Thailand. We feel secure that the Government of Thailand with help at this critical time, will be successful in the long-term protection and repopulation of the tigers and other wildlife species especially elephant, gaur, sambar and gibbons.
Camera trap photo of the panthera tigris at dusk in the Dong Phayayen – Khao Yai World Heritage site
Wildlife scientists and experts from Thai universities and the government will be integrated into the Global Conservation program and park rangers will be given training in wildlife protection and collect census data on wildlife populations. Training and technical support will improve the capacity of park rangers for law enforcement and park management while providing provisions and equipment to best implement the SMART patrol system for the ‘No Kill, No Cut’ goal.
The recovery of key wildlife species in Thailand will also bring more tourists to Thap Lan National Park and generate higher revenue for Thap Lan to strengthen park, forest and wildlife protection.
Abandoned ranger station and radio tower in central Thap Lan National Park.
Endangered UNESCO World Heritage
The Khao Yai National Park next to Thap Lan is the first and best managed national park established in Thailand. Over a million tourists visit Khao Yai every year. Despite this success, recognition and associated revenues from tourism, Khao Yai has lost all of its tigers and is today facing a total loss of its last rosewood forests due to illegal logging. Khao Yai faces immense encroachment pressures from illegal settlement, agriculture and hotel development.
While Khao Yai National Park receives both funds from regular government budgets and extra budget from tourism revenues, Thap Lan National Park has a much smaller budget, ranger force and today receives no tourists.
In terms of protection, these two national parks combined have less than 200 park rangers deployed on full time patrol. This is a considerable low number (20 sq.km/park ranger) compared to the size of the parks. The low patrol intensity has led to undetected poaching and, perhaps, to the extinction of tigers from Khao Yai in 2005.
Thap Lan National Park is faced with a much poorer management system and more serious threats than nearby Khao Yai National Park. The most serious threat to Khao Yai and Thap Lan National Parks today is the rampant poaching of Siamese rosewood.
In the last 5 years poachers depleted the Siamese rosewood in Cambodia and Thailand's national parks along the border, and are entering Thap Lan and Khao Yai National Parks. Rosewood poachers many times carry guns and also hunt wildlife. Besides poaching, encroachment in and around the parks by local peoples and illegal resort owners have been destroying the intergrity and universal value of one of Thailand’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Currently DPKY is being considered by the World Heritage Committee to downgrade to the World Heritage in Danger List if the Thai government cannot protect the Global Universal Value of DPKY world heritage. The latest meeting of the World Heritage Committee in July 2015 in Bonn, Germany, has given Thailand another chance to improve the situation in DPKY and report to the committee on February 2016.
Thap Lan National Park ranger director reviewing program to achieve ‘No Kill, No Cut’.
Threats to Thap Lan National Park
Siamese rosewood and equipment confiscated from poachers.
Thap Lan National Park Conservation Goals and Objectives
Global Conservation is working on an integrated Global Park Defense program to transform Thap Lan National Park into a ‘No Kill, No Cut’ park in Thailand within 3-5 years. To achieve this goal of ‘No Kill, No Cut’ Global Conservation will focus on four areas:
1) Border Demarcation
2) Informant Rewards System
3) Advanced Surveillance
4) SMART Ranger Patrols
Overall major objectives we seek to achieve in the next 5 years are:
Elimination of all illegal activities and encroachment within Thap Lan National Park.
Introduction of sustainable tourism into Thap Lan National Park for increased park revenues and government and public recognition.
Strengthen the SMART patrol system for Thap Lan National Park.
Restore the Lum Prang Ranger Station in the core of the park to full function.
Restore key wildlife habitats in Thap Lan National Park to allow recovery of tigers, ungulates and elephants and provide viewing areas for visitors to increase sustainable revenues for park protection.
Double ranger patrol headcount under government budgets and increase park operations and capital investment available by 3-4 times.
Global Conservation Program Objectives – 2016-2018
Train 80 park rangers for Thap Lan National Park into SMART patrol system. Conduct annual refresher courses training for 40 park rangers
Support provisions, GPSs, digital cameras, high quality uniforms, field gears, and other necessary supplies to improve the morale of park rangers and patrol effectiveness.
Install and improve the SMART Patrol Center for Thap Lan National Park to a high standard to be used as a place for monthly patrol meetings among park officers and rangers.
Provide rewards for park rangers for important arrested cases.
Provide rewards for informants who give intelligence information to help enforcement.
Renovate the office and ranger house in Lum Prang Ranger Station with generator, solar power system, base radio and antenna.
Install a park-wide radio communications system for rangers and sensors/camera traps.
Implement hidden cellular camera traps on trials used by poachers to detect movement of rosewood and wildlife poachers with real-time photos informing park rangers for timely interdiction.
Implement Seismic Sensors to detect movement of illegals in and around the park by foot or truck/automobile.
Fly UAV Drones regularly across the entire park border and sensitive areas to inspect the movement of illegals, encroachment, and to detect poaching and logging camps.
Install Command and Control system using GIS and LANDSAT 8 data analysis integrating patrol communications and dispatch systems.
Create wildlife viewing areas in Thap Lan National Park for visitors which are grass-based ideal for feeding areas, water holes and salt licks for ungulates and elephants.
Scientific monitoring of wildlife populations using transect patrolling and camera traps to count tigers, leopards, bears and other wildlife every year.
Global Conservation Partners
Wildlife Conservation Society - Thailand
WCS has been working in Thailand for more almost 20 years with the opening of the office in 1997. Since 2005 WCS has focused the majority of resources to recover tigers and their prey in the core area of Thailand's Western Forest Complex (WEFCOM), which is also a World Heritage Site named Huai Kha Kheang and Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuaries (HKK-TY).
With over a decade of continuing efforts on the ground in HKK-TY, the most successful products are UNESCO World Heritage designation, an intensive tiger population monitoring system using camera trapping and the first rigorous population survey of tiger and ungulates for the whole 18,000 sq.km UNESCO World Heritage site. With the success of anti-poaching and anti-encroachment at WEFCOM, WCS is working to extend the model to other national parks in Thailand and other countries in the region.
Dr. Anak Pattanavibool
Country Director, Thailand Program
Wildlife Conservation Society
Anak Pattanavibool has worked in wildlife conservation and research in Thailand for more than 20 years.
After receiving his Bachelor of Science in wildlife management from Kasetsart University, he began his career with the Wildlife Conservation Division, Royal Forest Department (the division is now under the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation) as a park ranger in wildlife sanctuaries in southern and northern Thailand. Pattanavibool then received a USAID scholarship for his graduate studies at Oregon State University, where he earned a Master of Science degree in wildlife science in 1993.
He worked briefly as a wildlife biologist before continuing a doctorate degree in environmental geography at University of Victoria in Canada. After graduating and returning to Thailand, he worked as a wildlife biologist with the Western Forest Complex Ecosystem Management Project (WEFCOM) to map distributions of large mammals and birds. He then began teaching biology and conservation for a year in Department of Biology at Mahidol University.
In October 2004, he began his employment with WCS as the Thailand country program director. In his role with WCS, he has the opportunity to work with his colleagues in government and universities to strengthen wildlife conservation and research in Thailand. In 2013, Pattanavibool became a faculty member of the Department of Conservation, Faculty of Forestry at Kasetsart University. He hopes to use his experience to strengthen the future generations of park and wildlife managers in order to raise their standard and morale to work for wildlife and wild places in Thailand.