In February we had a visit to the island from Jax and Jackie who currently work and volunteer with GVI – Global Vision International. They came to inspect the island and take a look at the conservation and self sustainable work we plan to develop, and wanted to see if they could be involved at all.
The trip was quite a success with a number of possible project outcomes. To begin their initiation onto the island Chris met them from the longtail boat and took them on a jungle trek through the mangroves that line the east side of the island. They trekked across the mountain until they reached the beach camp on the western side. This is a great way to start your visit to Koh Ra, as you are immediately immersed into the dense wildlife and vegetation that covers the island. When you have finished your trek, you exit the jungle out into the most beautiful deserted beach. This is where Koh Rah Beach Camp is situated.
After the first trek the GVI volunteer and Jax were taken to do some snorkelling. Jax has a lot of experience in reef monitoring and Coral Watch, so this was an interesting part of the trip for her. She suggested that it would be a good idea to set up a coral watch project in the future; as far as we know nothing is being done to monitor the coral in this area, so it would be very beneficial to the marine environment here.
Fish that she spotted included: Blue Ring Angel Fish, Red Tail Butterfly Fish, Peacock Groupers, Rabbit Fish, Hermit Crabs, Moorish Idols and lots of interesting Coral.
We are still undecided about the snorkelling destinations at Koh Ra Beach Camp, some are really good sites for spotting sealife and corals, but some are a little dangerous with strong currents. This needs some further investigation. It was productive having Jackie and Jax here to get some feedback on this, and possible projects that people could be involved in, in the future.
That evening Jackie and Jax were taken on a night safari. This was an interesting experience for them; the darkness in Koh Rah is amazing, with no light pollution for miles around it is really quite a special place to be at night. Obviously in the darkness there is not a lot to see, but it is a wonderful time to be in the jungle for the sounds of nocturnal nature.
The following day Jackie and Jax were taken on a longer trek across the island to see the progress that was being made at the camp. The guides are trackers, Kareem is an expert in the Thai rainforest and Chris a worldly nature expert, so they could point out the wild boar tracks and even some barking deer tracks! Koh Rah is an excellent place for bird watchers; Jackie and Jax saw a greater hornbill, an asian fairy bluebird and on the night trek they heard the noises of the friendly beach camp owl. Amongst other creatures that they encountered on their trip were all kinds of rainforest frogs and an unusual and very large leaf insect.
Their time on Koh Rah Beach Camp was very productive. Conservation projects that may come of this are a herb and vegetable garden to help the camp retain it’s self-sustainability. This would also save on transfer costs from the mainland, therefore also fuel and excess food wastage too. A much needed composting area would also be beneficial to the island, this will help with the herb and vegetable gardens and is a good way to recycle unwanted and excess waste. One project that will help the campsite and visitors is a rainwater harvesting project. This will save water, a precious and limited resource on the island.
Another potential endeavour will be to compile a species list; to date there is very little information known or available for Koh Rah, so we feel it’s important to rectify this. As one of the few remaining untouched islands in Thailand, we feel it’s important to know what is on the island.
One further project that could be in the pipeline with the help of GVI is a coral watch and reef monitoring programme. Again, as a fairly undiscovered island this will be useful for educational purposes.
At the heart of Koh Rah Beach Camp we want to keep the nature as untouched as possible. The reason that this is a tropical paradise island is purely down to the exquisite wildlife present here in it’s abundance; helping to maintain and protect it is of absolute importance and key to the island’s future as a beautiful and relaxing destination, but also, and possibly more importantly, as an educational example of raw nature.