Once again, our adventurous Wildlife Monitoring Project team headed to the deep jungles of Khao Sok National Park and Klong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary. It was time to change the memory cards and batteries, do some basic maintenance and adjust positions of the camera traps hidden deep in the jungle. This time we also had a very special mission, an idea that we got from one of our meetings with the head of the local wildlife research center. We were going to prepare plaster casts of the wildlife footprints we would find on the way!
Carefully we stepped off the boat taking us to the starting point of the trek, a bank of one of the most remote channels of Cheow Larn Lake, a few minutes’ longtail boat ride from Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp. We were lucky to spot the first wildlife footprints right there at the bank of the lake, belonging to a large bull gaur. The gaur is the tallest of the wild cattle species, and it has been listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List since 1986. We were extremely lucky during our boat ride, and spotted a heard of majestic gaurs grazing at the lake bank!
We hiked through the evergreen forest and spotted several corridors that were clearly frequented by wildlife. This time of the year it is the monsoon season here in Thailand, also called “the green season”. The latter definition certainly lives up to its name in Khao Sok, and we were speechlessly marveling at the amazing lush greenery as we made our way deeper into the jungle.
Within our hike totaling 7 hours, we were able to make the plaster casts of footprints of as many as 7 different species! These included gaur, sambar deer, mouse deer, members of the family of cats and some footprints we couldn’t specify which animal they belong to.
When making a plaster cast, it’s important to find a nice, even and clean footprint, we found that the ones on a clayey soil were easiest to use as molds. After finding a good footprint, we took out any sticks or plant material, and poured the plaster mix into the footprint. It took approximately 15 minutes to set, after which we dug around and under the footprint, lifted it up and wiped off the surrounding bits of soil.
In addition to the footprint plaster casts that our guests can now admire at the Rainforest Camp, we of course got some great footage of our motion triggered camera traps. Stay tuned, the best clips are coming up soon!
Learn more about our Wildlife Monitoring Project here. By gathering information on the flora and fauna in Khao Sok, we believe we can help the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries with their continuous efforts on preserving this unique area. We are currently looking for partners to co-operate with our Wildlife Monitoring Project. If you or your company would be interested, please contact us at [email protected].
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