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The rainy season in Thailand varies from region to region and  lasts from May to October. So we are only at the beginning now, but the short, sharp very heavy downpours do limit the construction and infrastructure work that we can do on our jungle site at Ban Ton Sae.  The intensity of the rain is notching up day-by-day as we head into the full swing of Southern Thailand’s monsoon months. Dark clouds appear with a strong warm wind, then a few heavy drops of rain warn you that you have only a few minutes to find cover before the skies open and rain belts down. You may be trapped in your shelter for 20-30 minutes but then the rain stops as suddenly as it started, the clouds disappear and the sun comes out. 

But the sheer volume of water that falls means that the tracks get muddy and waterlogged. Building works require dry conditions for laying foundations and work on the future education and visitor centres, as well as the elephant hospital will have to wait until later in the year.

The sheer magnitude of the rain can sometimes cause a minor flash flood on the site and we must always be mindful of this although the extensive site drainage that we installed earlier in the year should mitigate the risk. Flooding would threaten our newly planted grasses and could also affect the wonderful forest trees we have planted with your generous help,  so Jake is keeping a very close eye on things.

None of this affects elephants whose love of water also really does extend to the rains! Every water drop gives the elephant a cooling break from the relentless humid heat of Thailand’s tropical climate. As shown in the photos, elephants aren’t fazed at all by the monsoon rain, and embrace it with all its force. We can’t wait for STEF’s future elephants to be resting in the Park, enjoying the monsoon season.

However, there is silver lining behind all this rain as it has given us the opportunity to re-focus our attention on sharing STEF’s message of the need to help conserve the Asian elephant, and our STEF fundraising program. If you can help us, please sponsor one of trees at the Ban Ton Sae site to help us get the ecologically sensitive park that we need for the elephants. Just click here to sponsor a tree now!

The southern region of Thailand, where the Ban Ton Sae STEF site is located, really has only two seasons – the wet and the dry. These seasons do not occur at the same time on the east and west sides of the southern peninsula. On the west coast, where STEF is located, the southwest monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from April through to October, while on the east coast the most rain falls between September and December. Overall the southern parts of Thailand get by far the most rain, with around 2,400 millimetres every year, compared with the central and northern regions of Thailand, both of which get around 1,400 millimetres.

Because of this, before the next stage of laying the turf, it has been necessary to equip the site with sufficient irrigation and drainage. As the weather is naturally unpredictable, the irrigation was installed as a backup for any prolonged dry spell.

It was vital to select the correct sized water pump and this was then connected to a water supply linked to source of the pools. These pipes were then directed up and along the slope by the pools to where the turf is planted, with specially-designed holes to regulate the release of water along the pipe. With the drainage, we have to ensure the site does not flood as this could lead to erosion of the loose, freshly-moved soil, and damage to the turf by over saturating it. We had 25 sections of large concrete drainage pipes delivered and installed in order to prevent this soil run-off and flooding.

Now we are close to the rainy season, it is crucial that we prepare the site properly to ensure our hard work up up to now is not just washed away…

If you can help us with this practical and essential infrastructure work, please do. The elephants deserve the best. You can donate if you click here.

But do come back next week to read about the next stage of progress on the Ban Ton Sae site!