Visiting Khao Yai National Park for about 25 years, I saw the development of problems first hand.
To understand the reasons for the increasing problems it is necessary to go back for at least 20 years.
By then Khao Yai was a very quiet place, you could spend 2-3 weeks alone at the camping area.
The road to Prachin Buri did not exist yet.
So what happened since;
1. The road was built, elephants prefer to walk the easiest trails and road construction followed the same
principle. So the road was built along the elephants migration route.
2. Because of the very successful protection efforts by the Forestry Department and later the Department
of National Parks (DNP) the number of elephants at least doubled. (is is also happening in most other
protected areas in Thailand.)
3. Khao Yai became very popular with tourists from Bangkok and elsewhere. Visitor numbers exploded to
almost 1,5 million.
As available area and food for the wildlife did not increase encounters of wildlife and humans became more
4. After many resorts and even a racetrack have been built in the Pak Chong area, the attitude of the visitors
changed from people enjoying the cool weather and nature in general to people mistaking a national park
for an amusement park. Noisy partying, littering and racing became the main features of Khao Yai National
Park, especially on weekends.
So what could be the solution?
As park staff are already stretched to the limit, options are very limited.
I only have a few suggestions
1. Ban motorbikes as in most other parks in Thailand and elsewhere.
2. Restrict bicycles to 16.00. (this is the next problem coming)
3. Maintain the food sources (grasslands) by burning them every year not later than January
(This year record numbers of elephants left park boundaries to look for food in farmlands)
4. Think of ways to reduce the speed on the roads.
I understand, that the money collected from entrance fees is absolutely necessary for DNP to maintain
all protected areas in Thailand, but I believe, that collecting fines will increase income and in the
long term will reduce the problems.
Certainly park staff and management are doing their best, but they are overwhelmed by the speed of developments.