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Prawn Farms In Paradise? Information Guide

Prawn Farms In Paradise? Thailand

Any visitor to the national park will discover not only spectacular landscapes but also one of the more disturbing sights in all of Thailand—the quick destruction of marshlands and mangrove swamps by thousands ol illegal shrimp farms.

Legal arrangements between local villagers and the National Parks Division have left behind a patchwork of rules intended to protect the natural environment while ensuring the livelihood of local fanners. But wealthy outsiders, funded by regional politicians and powerful merchants, soon moved in with bulldozers and bribes to profit by the industry of black tiger prawn fanning. The crisis peaked in 1991 after Klong Khao Daeng, the main outflow for the complex and highly fragile ecological network, was dredged and flooded with highly acidic saltwater, which killed the natural habitats and polluted the marshes. Exposed to the air, the once-fertile marshlands died as bacteria eliminated all the oxygen in the marshes. Within a few years, most of the prawn farms were abandoned due to prawn disease and the destruction of the waterlands that once supported one of Asia's largest collections of migratory birdtife.

The best viewing sites are the freshwater marshes near the village of Rong Jai, one of the few locations in Southeast Asia where the purple heron breeds; and the deciduous woodlands and mangrove swamps near the park headquarters, home to bird species associated with these forms of flora. Visitors can pick up a birdwatching guide at park headquarters.

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