National park to get elephant surveillance system
By Wimon Tabkong,
In a first for Thailand, Kui Buri National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan will be ringed with CCTV cameras to protect adjacent farms from raids by hungry elephants.
The “Smart Early Warning System” will see the edges of the park adorned with 25 cameras in March or April.
Park officials will also establish more grassy areas deep in the woods to try and keep elephants from hunting for food beyond the forest.
Park chief Kanchanapan Khamhaeng explained that any elephant spotted on camera would trigger an alert to an Elephant Watch Centre manned around the clock.
If the animal is on its own, local residents will be notified so they can drive it back into the forest. If there’s more than one elephant, a quick-response team of park rangers would head to the scene.
The system is detailed in a memorandum of understanding signed recently among the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, True Corp and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
National Parks Office director Songtam Suksawang said there are currently 260 to 300 elephants in Kui Buri National Park, based on a 2015 survey by the department’s Centre for Research and Innovation.
The park, which spans Kui Buri, Sam Roy Yot, Pranburi and Muang districts, is expected to have 600 elephants by 2027, he added.
Some of them do leave the forest from time to time, lured by the scent of fruit being cultivated on neighbouring farms, such as pineapple and jackfruit.
With parks nationwide reporting increases in elephant populations, more sources of food and water are being established within forest areas to keep them there, a concept advocated by His Majesty King Bhumibol.
Songtam said 400 rai of grassland had been established inside Kui Buri Park, adding to an existing 1,100 rai, but more was needed – academics have calculated that 3,000 rai of grassland is required to sustain the elephant population.
More water sources are also needed, he said, noting the success of Huai Khom Krit within Kaeng Krachan National Park in keeping elephants from wandering out of the woods. There, adequate food and water sources and artificial salt licks have resulted in no incidents intruding on adjacent farms.
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