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Chapter VIII - Projects

Project 1: K.P.T

VIII-01: Feel the spirit of a virgin tropical rain forest.

VIII-02: Absolute necessity to preserve the world's Asian natural heritage.

VIII-03: An opportunity to position yourselves as true nature's problems solvers.

Project 2: Eco Villages without ideology.

VIII-04: the Villages of Wholesome Life.

Part 2 - Absolute necessity to preserve

I assert (or he/she asserts), from a direct experience.

"Absolute necessity to preserve the world's Asian natural heritage"
Since the 18th nov 2001 you are th visit of sens-de-la-vie.com.

French version.

Reviving Khao Phra Thaew.

To photograph wild elephants with a telephoto lens from the comfort of a minibus on the plains of Kenya or Tanzania, is a pleasant but rather dull experience compared to the thrill of discovering the elusive pachyderms by stalking them within the confines of a tropical forest. Experiencing this for the first time gives you, without doubt, an emotion of a quite unique nature !

This, and many other powerful emotions, are what we wish to have the public in general, and the Thai youth in particular, experience through the revival of Khao Phra Thaew. Touching the heart of all those who visit it in such a way that they become aware - under the supervision of enlightened experts - that their own existence as human beings is indeed linked to this forest, and to Nature as a whole.

The absolute need to appreciate this is paramount in view of the extent to which such precious endowments of nature continue to be ravaged.

 
 

I Absolute necessity: preserving the world's natural heritage.

"This we know: all things are connected like the blood which unites one family....Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."

With this declaration made by American Indian chief Seattle as early as 1854, Europeans who had taken over the land of America, were warned against a serious dangers that their disrespect to nature would endanger.

This statement, made 148 years ago, truly was visionary because industrial civilization is had bring significant changes to the natural environment nowadays. Threatening the very existence of the Biosphere (interactions between all the living organisms: from micro-organisms to man) and the vital quality of the atmosphere. The planet itself is therefore at risk. Our very own spaceship may no longer be able to sustain us in a near future! Man is only part of a whole: he belongs to Earth - his destiny is depends of hers- and he cannot exist without it.

To reverse the process of destruction of nature which is leading us right to the mass extinction already started, is still possible: we need to unite our efforts toward that goal.

This becomes an absolute priority when we understand that saving nature is quite simply the only way to save humankind, (assuring it of a wonderful place to live) and furthermore this must also be accomplished withing this decade because we have no time to waste (according to many scientific researchers).

 

II Specificity of the flora and fauna of the Southeast Asia.

Asian panthers

Before the second world war, South East Asia was famous for the quality, and the variety of it’s flora and fauna.

Many aristocrats, or higher middle-class Europeans, such as Omer Sarraut or my friend François Edmond-Blanc came to hunt prestigious species there like the tigers, rare leopards, wild elephants, the Asian rhinoceros or, some of the large wild Bovidaes: the gaurs, the koupreys, the bantengs, the takins and the water buffalos.

An adult Gaur: a ton of muscles for a 2 meters height .

 

Southeast Asia has indeed the privilege to shelter one of the most singular fauna in the world, the rarest of the planet.

Here are some examples.

This area is very rich in many species of stags, and also has large wild boars, but are there also:

numerous species of small cats and civets as tangalunga,

deer : axis (photo), sambar, chevrotains, muntjac, hydropotes, etc.,

bovidae as sérow, tamarau,

flying animals as draco volans , flying frog (Rhacophore), flying squirrel (Petaurista pétaurista) Galéopithèque (Cynocéphalus volans) flying gecko,

numerous species of squirrels,

numerous species of bats,

numerous species of tree mice,

toupayes, musaraignes;

orang-outang, gibbons (4 species), long tail macaqs, siamang, semnopithèque, nasic,

gibbon, "Chani" in thaï

lemurians as nyctèbe, tarsier, loris,

collar bear, coconut bear,

tapir,

linsang, biturong,

Linsang

uncommon wild boar as Sus scrofa cristatus or Sus barbatus,

many species of birds, among which pheasants (more than 10 rare species), peacocks, and the bankivas (the ancestors of the domestic chickens), parrots, raptors (many diurnal as well as nocturnal species) ospreys, and fishing birds: cormorants, anbinguas, tantalums

 

Coq Bankiva, the ancestor

watery and bordering water fauna,

crocodiles,

 

snakes (numerous species) and varans,

the unique fauna of the mangrove of which the periophthalme or terrestrial fish,

periophthalme

etc., …

This is only one short outline of the diversity of the fauna. The flora's richness in a rain forest too much to describe, just have a look at Khao Phra Thaew.

In a word the Southeast Asia is the sanctuary for the rarest species of our planet and must remain so with our help.

 

 

III The original ecological pyramid of the Asian tropical forest.

When I arrived on Phuket island in 1995, I was told that the last tiger had been killed by poachers twelve years before my arrival, in 1983.

At its begining - I relate to an already remote past - like any rain forest of the tropical zone, Phuket's forest must have sheltered almost all of the animals that appear on this illustration. Needless to say, all the species are not mentioned in that pyramid like the common wild boar (sus scrofa), or the wild cock Bankiva which are still present as are thousand of others when it comes to reptiles, batrachians and insects…

If the smaller species are almost intact today, most of the larger ones have already disappeared. I wrote their names in red and the names of those which never lived on the island in white, the others are most likely still present.

Super predators:
1 Wolf 2 Tiger 3 Panther.

Predators:

4 Linsang 5 Civette palmiste of Owston 6 Malaysian bear an coconut bear.

7 Juggler Bear 8 Binturong 9 spotted Panther.

10 Falcon cuckoo 11 / 12 Hawks 13 Eagle 14 Spizaète.

Phytophages:

15 Rhinoceros of Sumatra 16 Rhinoceros unicorn 17 Asian elephant.

18 Gaur 19 Sérow 20 Axis 21 Sambar deer 22 Wildboar with moustache .

23 Tree mouse 24 Bamboo Rat 25 Flying squirrel.

26 Orang Outang 27 Gibbon 28 Langur 29 Pheasant 30 Peacock 31Bat.

 

IV Thailand needs help for nature conservation.
 

This need for help to nature is particularly obvious and useful in Thailand:

because it is the last refuge of the rarest fauna and flora of Asia,

because it shelters 10 % of the fauna's species found on our planet as well as 25 000 species of plants.

Plus, contributing to a wildlife sanctuary there is made easy because of the security offered by this peaceful country.

 

L'Express 5/4/2000: "there are some 25 000 species of plants in Thailand. Eventhough the Silatham's principle requires Buddists disciples to maintain natural balances, a suicide was necessary in order for Thailand to decide to really protect its natural inheritance.

On September first 1900, Seub Nakhasathien, a civil servant of the Royal Forest Department, took his own life, disgusted by the floods caused by new dams. He had been mobilizing the population against them for ten years.

The King, moved and shocked, took charge of his funeral and accelerated the creation of Protected Zones.

Presently, close to 13 % of the Country is safeguarded: 77 national parks, 36 natural reserves and 40 hunting free zones shelter a fauna and flora unknown to Occident".

Nearly 10 % of all animal species are found in Thailand,

280 species of mammals (this country is the kingdom of bats and wild Bovidae),

925 species of birds (there are only 600 in Europe).

And 140 species are endemic: they can only be found in this country, and nowhere else.

As for the plants, the botanists arrived at the hallucinating figure of 25 000 species, without counting the seaweeds or the ferns. The most beautiful orchids are numbered at 1300, and are always threatened by collectors. F.D."

And, like everywhere, the fast demographic and economic development of the kingdom of Thailand, a positive fact of itself, has recently had the consequences of a fast and exaggerated exploitation of natural resources, some of them seriously threatened, like teak wood or wild animals, frequently victims of poaching.

Fortunately, due to the vigilance of the thai authorities, lead by the the King, the fauna remains abundant there in many refuges.

It is also a paradise for rare snakes.

 

and many others species,

like this pangolin, which is a mammal contrary to what one might think because of its scales.

Or finally this Muntjac.

 

Natural assets of Thailand:

Unlike its neighbors, Thailand did not suffer from any of the enormous damages caused by wars to natural environments. Moreover, the recent phenomenons of economic and demographic developments have not yet damaged its natural heritage in an irreversible way. These facts in conjunction with the recent measures for conservation are the reasons why Thailand still has a significant and unique natural heritage as well as vast untouched territories to prove it.

 

IV Definition of the project and its 3 objectives:

 

The ambition of the project is quite simply, to use the largest possible available land to create a well managed reserve, made accessible to the public and thus, equipped for it , which would assure the safeguard of the rare and beautiful fauna and flora of Southeastern Asia. The reserve would have to be enclosed but not divided within, thus protecting both the animals and neighboring men alike.

This is not a proposal for a zoo, it is one for a park where the animals' living conditions must be natural.

Species of the Southeastern Asia fauna and flora that would happen to be missing in their natural state on the allotted territory would be brought to the reserve or replanted while making sure that the necessary ecological balance between the flora and the phytophagous animals would be preserved.

These animals will have to subsist by themselves, to feed and reproduce in a natural manner, without human intervention besides that of a good livestock management program (reckoning, possible elimination of sick animals, keeping the balance between the species and the sexes, etc.) as well as a monitoring program of its impact on the flora on which it feeds.

Because of its size, the initial financing of the project can only be assured mostly by sponsors companies of all nations, because nature conservation is a world service.

On the other hand, the annual income generated from tourist frequentation, both thai and foreign, must be large enough to ensure the financial autonomy of the project which operations will not have to be assumed by thai public funds.

This achievement, if properly promoted through the medias, would have a considerable impact on a worldwide public opinion, which is extremely receptive when nature conservation is concerned.

The project will thus have three beneficial aspects:

1. The conservation of Thailand's natural heritage.

2. A positive impact on Thailand's "public image".

3. An increase in the tourist frequentation of the Kingdom.

Two of the project's objectives will have to be harmonized:

The Protection of the fauna and flora, which implies: using the largest possible surface without any road going through it or human dwellings on it, a landscape allowing the installation of a fence, permanent running water resources and a nutritional vegetable cover. The minimum surface required for this to be technically credible must be of 5000 acres, and more would obviously be better: African reserves can cover 2,5 million acres.

The highest possible tourist frequentation, which implies: that the selected territory be deforested in some small areas to provide access to it and enable visitors to better view some wild animals, that the localization be as close as possible to Phuket international airport, the most popular tourist destination of the Kingdom and that getting to it be accessible by bus or by car within 3 hours of Phuket.

The ideal spot is obviously Khao Phra Thaew.

The final choice will inevitably have to be a compromise between these two requirements.

Since it isn't possible to guarantee that a visitor will actually be able to witness some wild animals in the tropical rain forest itself, the tour could begin by a walk around a giant birdcage of about 8 acres surrounded by a fence of at least 100 feet high made of a vertical and discrete net without any ceiling. There, one would be able to contemplate an extraordinary variety of birds, beginning with the phasianidae which primarily live on the ground, much like phasianides (as chickens) and would never feel like leaving this enclosure providing they had water and food naturally available to them there.

The healthiest could choose to continue their visit on foot. The use of quiet cross-country vehicles would be provided for the not so healthy or lazy visitors who could get access to specific zones of the park that way...

 

But, in my opinion, the ideal way to feel the spirit of a virgin tropical forest will always be by riding on the back of an elephant. An alternative that we would love to offer Khao Phra Thaew's clientele.

There is absolutely no doubt that many tourists who come to Phuket every year, would spend at least a day or two in Khao Phra Thaew and possibly spend a night or more in one of the comfortable lodges that could be built there as well.

Since many of the forest's inhabitants will have remained hidden during the day, those visitors spending the night there would definitely be able to hear, and with chance to see, some of the members of the nocturnal fauna …

Do you realize that if only 5 % of the 3 million tourists already getting to Phuket island each year were interested in visiting this reserve, it would mean a minimum of 150 000 people ?

And that is a very conservative estimate of how attractive this project would be to those already visiting the area … - ô)

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Updated September 1st, 2005