The Savannah landscape on Koh Phra Thong is rather unique in Thailand. It hosts a wealth of flora and fauna, which changes seasonally.
The “paper-bark” trunks of the Melaleuca trees, shed layers and offer protection from fires. The bark of this trees is harvested sustainably by the locals for building roofs and walls. When treated, the thatch produced is surprisingly waterproof and can last for several years. The Malaleuca trees host a number of plant species including orchids.
Mangroves surround the island of Koh Phra Thong. These coastal forests are some of the most bio diverse ecosystems in the world, hosting a variety of wildlife. Around 75% of commercially caught fish spend part of their lives in mangroves, making them vital for the health of our oceans. Mangroves have specially adapted aerial and salt-filtering roots and salt-excreting leaves, which enable them to occupy the saline wetlands where other plant life cannot survive.
On the way to the island you will see many mangroves; they are easily spotted because of their roots that come out of the water, making them appear like the trees are sitting on stilts. Amongst the mangroves you might see some Macaques, many species of bird and if your incredibly lucky and quiet maybe even a Dugong!
Sea Grass should not be confused with Seaweed! They are very different in that Sea Grass evolved from land plants, whereas Seaweed evolved from Algae in the sea. There are five main species of Sea Grass found around the island. The one you may recognise is Enhalusacoroides which has ribbon-like leaves and can grow up to 1m long! The most common species is Halophilaovalis which has small, oval leaves that are found in pairs along the stem.
Dugongs only eat sea grass, but Turtles, Sea Cucumbers and Conch can also be found amongst the beds.
Sambar Deer, Rusa unicolor, can be found around the island. They are highly adaptable as a species and are the most dominant species of deer found in Asia. Their diet is un-selective and they will browse on most rough vegetation available. You are more likely to see the sambar deer at dawn and dusk when they are most active.
The Mangrove ecosystem is also the home of the Fishing Cat, Prionailurus viverrinus - nocturnal hunter. The Fishing Cat has excellent night vision allowing it to detect the slightest ripple of a fish just below the surface. Non-retractable claws enable Fishing cats to hook fish with a swift scoop of the paw and flick them on to the bank without the cat ever getting wet.
Fishing Cats are usually about twice the size of a domestic cat, weighing up to 16kg. It has spotted fur and because of its size and coat has been mistaken by fishermen for a leopard. The overall colour ranges between grey and olive brown with small dark spots that become stripes on the face and a white underside. The Fishing Cat is becoming increasingly rare across Southern Thailand and has been listed under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Endangered Species as “Endangered” since 2008.
On Koh Phrathong Island you can also see another fascinating creature – Leopard Cat, Prionailurus bengalensis, which is a wild feline about the size of a large domestic cat: around 2-4kg, but with longer legs and a distinct spotted/dappled coat similar to that of a Leopard. It has a white underside, which is also spotted and reaches to cover its mouth, but its main colour can vary between golden and brown. It has a relatively small head with large round eyes and rounded ears. The Leopard Cat is mostly nocturnal and active at dawn and dusk, resting during the dayeither in trees or in ground nests in forests, making it difficult to spot.
In 1996 Koh Phra Thong Island, in Thailand’s Phang Nga province, was selected as the base of a sea turtle conservation project. Centrally located within the tourist hotspot of southern Thailand, Koh Phra Thong island has remained remarkably undisturbed and due to that it is no surprise that three different species of turtles have been found to frequent regularly along its west coast. During the nesting season (normally November – March), research teams from international NGO’s patrol the beach every day to locate nests and prevent poaching. Where necessary, nests are relocated and protected until the hatchlings emerge. The team also helps to educate the local community (especially village school children) and tourists on the need for conservation of these endangered species.
If you are lucky enough to discover a turtle on any of the beaches during the day or night please do not disturb it. Please be especially careful not to shine your torches at it or flash at it with your camera (if at night) as this can prevent them from nesting on the beaches. If you do discover a turtle on a beach please let a member of our staff know as soon as possible.
Koh Phra Thong Island is listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Bird Life International. Main reasoning for the listing is that Koh Pra Thong is the last remaining site in Thailand known to support a significant breeding population of the globally threatened Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus). Over half of the total number of Lesser Adjutants recorded annually in Thailand, occur at the site. Besides Lesser Adjutant there are other interesting species for bird watchers for example the Grey-headed Fish Eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus), many birds of prey as well as many migrant birds and winter visitors.
Some of the many species that can be found on the island of Koh Phrathong are 18 unique species or species groups, as follows: Hornbill, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Red-wattled Lapwing, Striped Tit Babbler, Greater Coucal, Green Pigeon, Swallow, Dove, Indian Roller, Pacific Reef Egret, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Crow, Brahminy Kite, Red-breasted Parakeet, Olive-backed Sunbird, Woodpecker, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Quail, Owls, Kingfishers..
Support our Conservation Efforts
“Leave nothing but footprints…”
At Phra Thong Nature Resort we aim to protect and conserve the island’s natural habitat and wildlife, and we hope that over your stay with us, you will enjoy some of the natural wonders of this beautiful tropical island. To help us preserve Koh Phra Thong’s wildlife we kindly ask you to follow a few basic rules.
- Please do not drop litter.
- Please do not remove any coral or shells from the beaches or reefs the shells serve as houses for the many hermit crabs found on the beaches.
- Please take care not to kick, stand on or touch the coral when snorkeling or swimming, as these are fragile, break easily and take a very long time to grow back.