I am still in Bangkok, and it appears that I will be for ~4 more days! Two political parties siezed Suvarnabhumi International AP three days ago, and then Don Mueang Regional AP night before last. All international flights in Thailand depart from and arrive to Suvarnabhumi AP; I was scheduled to fly to Bangalore yesterday.
The protests and occupation are at least peaceful for now. No one in the occupation has weapons firearms, but have made spear-pointed baracades in the airline terminal, and the military/police are opting to not take forceful action. That seems to be the nature of Thai people; I hope that disposition holds.
I have been working with CIFAE colleagues and are partner groups on alternatives. It looks as though - if the AP reopens in time - I will fly to Bangalore on Wed 3-Dec (2-Dec US time) for only a few days work there. If this plan works, I will at least be able to reconnoiter the tract of land we are considering for purchase as a elephant corridor between two of the largest conservation areas in south India. If I can do that, the time there will be well worth it. The whole thing is frustrating, inconvenient and expensive, but it could be a lot worse!
For most of this week, I was in the wilderness areas of Kuiburi and Kaeng Krachen national parks. I think it will be impossible to describe the beauty of those places; perhaps images will help. In Kuiburi and Kaeng Krachen there are expanses of old growth bamboo and tree ferns, and vast forests dominated by a group of trees called diptocarps many of which were 200-300 feet tall. Do you remember the movie 'Crouching Tiger...'? We watched langurs spring across the tops of the giant bamboo 50-75 feet above the ground, as the winds made the bamboo sway widely.
I have seen elphants only at the Conservation Centre near Lampang; but we found fresh dung of a large bond group having at least to new calves in Kaeng Krachen, and followed their tracks to an active "salt lick" the basain of which was approximately 2 acres but extended from that point like a narrow stream far into the deep forest. Elephants can smell water and nutrients far below the surface, and will excavate an area for them. Those "projects" provide an openning in the forest that allow for groundcover, grasses and low-canopy shrubs and new seedling trees, that other creatures depend upon for food, to establish.The salt lick basins often expose near-surface water and fill as small ponds providing much needed water to virtually all other inhabitants in the dry season. Some friends with WWF and at the national park have found 4 salt licks that no one new existed. They appear to have been active for years; another good sign. I attempted to upload images but was not successful; I think they were two large. I will try again for just a few.
I am wishing everyone the best,