Don Chao Poo Forest, in Phana, Amnat Charoen Province, is regularly described as a ‘magical’ place. Residents of Phana who regard the forest as the home of the village’s guardian spirit, might not find this surprising.
The forest itself may seem magical:
But the forest is more than trees:
And then there is the fauna, though sighting these is rare and requires time and patience:
ground-nesting squirrels are quite numerous but very shy
Birds are heard, especially early in the morning and towards evening, but are rarely seen.
Skinks and Monitor lizards are the most frequently seen reptiles, snakes and tokay geckos the rarest.
Bees build elaborate hives high in the trees:
and there are thousands of butterflies … but I challenge you to get a better photo of one than this:
and how do you like these two?
As if all that forest life was not enough, the main attraction is undoubtedly the large tribe of long-tailed macaques which inhabit the forest. To a large extent they are dependent on human provisioning and so they are habituated to humans. They will steal bags from you – so don’t bring them into the forest – and the same goes for small items like cameras, mobile phones, sun glasses, that sort of thing, if you have them with you, hang on to them at all times. The monkeys are still fearful and defensive, so don’t try to touch them. Nevertheless, you can get close to them but closer than a metre or so makes them uncomfortable and they don’t like you running around and shouting or screaming.
Keeping these things in mind, you will surely enjoy observing their activities and their social behaviour. Here are some photos to whet your appetite for these fascinating creatures:
A big thank you to all the volunteers whose photos appear here. They enjoyed their time in the forest, and you can see how productive it was in the photographic sense!