Conservation in a Riverside Mountain Village
Nakha boasts stunning mountainous scenery, and is home to the highly endangered Water Lily, known locally as the “Yah Chong.” This fresh-water plant has unusually long leaves and delicate white flowers that bloom from October to December.
Unfortunately, the water lily faces serious threats from river dredging and collection for resale as aquarium plants. To help save the Water Lily, locals formed a conservation group to protect its habitat, and now offer rafting excursions to raise public awareness of this beautiful plant.
Profits are used by the club to pay for school trips. The club also sponsors a nursery that is used by the youth group for replanting the water lilies.
Unlike many of the nearby locales, Tambon Nakha area has been settled only in the last thirty to forty years — by migrants from Nakorn Si Thammarat, Trang, and Krabi provinces. The area was deemed sympathetic to the communist movement in the 1970’s, and a number of student activists took refuge from government troops in the hills above Nakha.
The ecosystems around Nakha are home to rare orchids, hornbills, wild elephant; and a number of endemic species including the Water Lily, white palm, and fresh-water carp. In past, the natural resources of Nakha were often taken advantage of by corrupt business interests, leading to deforestation and poor water quality. Deforestation and poor water quality affected the human and natural communities.
Eventually, villagers from Ban Fai Tah and Ban Rai Nai banded together with national environmental activists to create Klong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary — a 300,000 rai preserve that recognizes the access rights of local communities. Simultaneously, villagers formed agriculture and fishery associations to manage resources outside the sanctuary.
The Klong Nakha Ecotourism Club was formed to conserve the endangered Nakha water lily, which is found only in Klong Nakha and surrounding rivers. The Ecotourism Club is motivated more by a conservation ethic than income, and any profit is used to sponsor rafting trips for local school children. Groups of government officials are among the most common visitors, offering opportunities for policy influence.
Local leaders also created a youth conservation group that is currently involved in water quality research, GPS mapping of Klong Nakha, garbage collection. The youth group also helps protect the Water Lily by gathering the lilies in the monsoon, propagating them in a nursery, and replanting in natural habitat.
Nakha River Rafting Tours
Are you ready for a break from the sand and seawater of the coast? If so, join with the “Plen Prai Sri Nakha” Club for a day of rafting on a gentle river, and help protect the endangered water lily along the way.
Guests typically spend four hours floating down the river on inflatable or bamboo rafts, depending on group size and water level. Large and small groups are welcome, and the lunch stop includes a delicious local-style lunch, served in a banana leaf dish.
The rafting route takes visitors through orchards of palm, rubber, and traditional crops such as such as coffee, mangosteen, and durian. During the trip, you can learn about the ways that locals are working to protect their environment from commercial plantation owners and illegal logging.
Safety: The ride is smooth, gentle, and safe for all ages.
Exertion level: easy
Duration: 4 hours
Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Trails
Klong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary is ranked as one of most biodiverse areas in Thailand. It is home to elephants, tigers, tapir, gibbons, and eight species of hornbill. Study group visits can be arranged. Attractions include a nature trail that starts at the park headquarters, located 17 km north of Kampuan. Overnight camping is available beyond the nature trail, but requires permission from the rangers.
Exertion level: moderate
Duration: 1-2 hours