Some of Thailand’s national parks to reopen next week

Some of Thailand’s national parks are to reopen to the public next week, after more than two months of closure to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr. WoravuthSilpa-archa, said today that the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is currently assessing the situation at all  parks, including marine parks, across the country and will determine which can fully or partially reopen safely.

He maintained that not all national parks will reopen now, citing marine parks in the Andaman Sea, due to storms makingnavigation unsafe, and the mountainous Phu Kradueng National Park, in the northeastern province of Loei, which has been closed for six months, to allow nature to regenerat, following a large forest fire.

He further said that visitors to national parks will, from now on, have to make advance bookings, in order to limit the numbersunder new anti-COVID-19 guidelines, adding that many wild animals and marine species have emerged to forage for food in areas previously frequented by human visitors during the two-month closure of the parks.

Mr. Tunya Netithammakul, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, held a meeting with authorities on Thursday to discuss preparations for the reopening of some marine parks in the Andaman Sea, entry fees, a tracking system for tourist boats, the quantity of tourists to be allowed each day and the capacity of each park to accommodate visitors.

Several marine parks in the Andaman Sea have reported the return of rare marine species during their closure. Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, vice dean of the Department of Fisheries at Kasetsart University, recently wrote in his Facebook post that more than 100 black-tipped coral sharks have returned to the famous Maya Bay.

He said that the absence of human activity, such as tour boats,has prompted the sharks to return to forage for food.

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