Last weekend I finally visited Khao Yai in the rainy season. Unfortunately Green Leaf was already full and my friends and I had to check in to a different guest house. This off course meant that we were not going into the forest with Mr. Nine and in the end we saw very little wildlife.
First thing in the morning we spotted a small family of black colored White-handed gibbons up in the canopy. As the day progressed we found the usual suspects: Giant Black Squirrel, Sambar Deer, Barking Deer and a couple of Water monitors
The main attraction of the Khao Yai in the wet season, however, is the multitude of reptiles and interesting insects that emerge during the wetter weather. Up at the guest house I came face to face with a juvenile King cobra. Its yellow and black banded pattern is unmistakable and I knew exactly what I was looking at as soon as I saw it. The last King cobra I saw was in the fields around the Tiger Temple, when an absolutely massive individual decided to cross the road in front of the car my friend was driving. That snake was so large it looked like a fallen tree, and it took it so long to get all of its massive bulk across the road – we had to engage the hand break! A few years before that, a large King cobra was killed just outside of the temple gates. I measured it and it came just a few centimeters short of 5 meters.
Another dangerous customer we spotted in the park was a White-lipped Pit-viper – the name comes from a heat-sensitive pit under the skin between the nostril and the eye. These creatures are so well camouflaged in their environment that it takes a very well trained eye to spot them. As it was, we nearly stepped on a juvenile viper that coiled up on a small plant growing on the side of the trail and found the second one resting in the canopy of a tree under which we were having a lunch stop.
Other reptiles I spotted were a very well-camouflaged Garden fence lizard and a bright red Berdmore’s frog.
Butterflies are extremely abundant in Khao Yai during the wet season. Emerald peacocks brightened up the forest with splashes of iridescent blue and green, while Intermediate maplets surprised with splashes of bright orange. Common Helen was also abundant as well as Orange Emigrant, Streaked Magpie Moth and Sumatran Butterfly Moth.
Another feature of a monsoonal forest during the rainy season is the multitude of fungi. They come in all shapes and sizes and literally cover the forest floor.