Of the many animals we see at the resort the most common is the medium-sized Pied Hornbill. All have a characteristic ungainly look, with black and white body and curved yellow beak.
There are four types of monkey in Khao Sok – the shy and adorable langur (aka leaf monkey), the sociable long-tailed macaque (seen year round here at the Jungle House), and the less common stump-tailed macaque and pig-tailed macaque. Other simians found in the area are the white-handed gibbon, that can be heard calling from the mountains each morning, and the slow loris (a nocturnal, incredibly cute, lemur-like creature).
On a Cheow Larn lake trip, you can expect to see otters, fish eagles, colorful yellow-beaked hornbills, gibbons, and monkeys. On the Khao Sok Special Wildlife Tour it is also possible to see wild elephants, sambar deer, the highly endangered tapir as well as the gaur (Asian bison).
Danger in the Jungle
Contrary to popular belief, the jungle is benign and probably a safer habitat for humans than city streets. This is primarily because animals, like ourselves, instinctively avoid danger and will avoid humans rather than attack them. The following are some of the potential predators found in Khao Sok and most tropical jungles of the world.
Cobras and king cobras are present but rarely seen at Khao Sok, and the incidence of bites is extremely low. This is because snakes, like most animals, will avoid humans unless disturbed. As for the King Cobra, it can barely see and you can safely slowly back away.
Scorpions like to dwell in rotting wood. Their sting is painful and may last for a day but not deadly. One unexpected predator is stinging nettles, of which there are several varieties. Simply touching one can bring severe pain and itching, which can last for a day and night. But these are not generally found on the trails, and guides can identify them easily.
Khao Sok is home to four types of monkeys. Long-tailed macaques are the most common monkeys you will see around the Jungle House. They are brown in color and often move in groups of 5-20. They are not shy and are seen in many places – sometimes they swing through the trees near your house. They can often be found in the fruit orchard out past the clubhouse. Two other species – the pig-tailed macaque and the stump-tailed macaque – are often found deeper in the jungle, and can be quite aggressive, so do not try to befriend them if you meet them while hiking.
The dusky langur, also known as a leaf monkey, lives in the upper canopy. They are grey-black in color and shyer than the macaque. The lighter color of fur around their eyes gives them a spectacled look, as if they are wearing glasses You can sometimes see them playing on the cliffs across the stream.
The gibbon is hard to see, since it spends most of its life high in the canopy, but it is common to hear its song, a beautiful series of rising and falling whoops. These songs are a way of marking territory and communicating with family members. Gibbons have a lifespan of about 25 years in the wild, and are monogamous mammals forming bonds for life.
Gibbons are not monkeys but members of the ape family, and thus have no tail. Their long arms enable them to brachiate (swing) between tree branches. Unlike most primates, who simply jump between branches, a gibbon can brachiate at speeds as high as 35 mph and can travel as far as 30 feet in one swing.
The gaur (sometimes called Asian bison), an impressive wild buffalo with thick curved horns. It weighs over a ton and with distinctive white feet and ankles looking just like socks. Using its sharp pointed horns and the hard frontal ridge of its forehead, an adult Gaur can kill an assailant with one blow. Even leopards and tigers rarely tackle one of these enormous beasts. Generally, however, gaur will choose to avoid conflict rather than engage.
This ancient bird is usually found in mature forests, and their presence at the resort is evidence that the chain of nature is still intact at Our Jungle House. Slightly awkward in appearance, they have brilliant yellow beaks and black and white plumage. Nine species of hornbill are found in Khao Sok National Park, four of which visit the trees around the property.
The Great Hornbill, has a wing span of nearly two meters. The wings are so powerful that the bird makes a loud whooshing sound as it flies by. You may also see a smaller hornbill, called the Oriental Pied. If you hear a sharp “kaek kaek kaek” sound, that’s him (or her). Most often, hornbills are seen at our resort feeding on wild fig trees from October to February.
There are 12 species of Kingfisher found in Khao Sok National Park. You can often see them along the river, perched on branches above the stream. The species can vary in colour; some being the classical bright blues, others like the Ruddy Kingfisher are rusty red in colour. Their diet consists mostly of fish, crabs, frogs and insects. Large fish are beaten on a bough or rail; small fish and insects are promptly swallowed. A fish is usually lifted and carried by its middle, but its position is changed, sometimes by tossing it into the air, before it is swallowed head downwards.
While there are many sounds in the forest, one of the loudest is the shrill humming noise emitted by the cicada. Cicadas are large insects with sizable compound eyes and transparent wings. Cicadas are one of the most widely recognized of all insects, due to their remarkable (and often inescapable) acoustic talents. The cicada creates the sound by rapidly vibrating a drum like membrane located on each side of the body. At close range the volume of the cicada’s love calls can be up to 120dB, similar to the volume of a car horn, or an aircraft taking off.