Thailand’s Thap Lan National Park is part of the Dong Phayayen – Khao Yai Forest Complex (DPKY-FC), designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance to global biodiversity.The DPKY-FC supports 112 species of mammals, 392 species of birds, and 200 species of reptiles and amphibians.Thap Lan receives few visitors and faces major threats, including poaching, illegal logging and the expansion of a highway leading from Bangkok to the country’s northeast.The park, along with the rest of the DPKY-FC, could be downgraded by UNESCO to inscription on the “List of World Heritage in Danger.” On the trail of a conservation group conducting a wildlife monitoring survey, we stop the 4×4 on the road and walk along the red earth to check on camera traps. Wildlife rangers from Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and international conservationists are working deep in Thap Lan National Park, where the air smells of forest matter and minerals. Oriental pied hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) streak overhead in darts of black and white from tree to tree. Their fruit-eating, high-flying lifestyles make light work of the seed-dispersal necessary for a healthy forest ecosystem. Beside the road, a greater racket-tailed drongo (Dicurus paradiseus) displays inky blue-black plumage and beautiful elongated outer tail feathers that trail hypnotically around after the bird as it flies. The conservationists’ expensive motion-sensor cameras are given various layers of defense — silica gel is put inside the camera casing (rainy season), chalk is applied to the outer edges (ants), the camera is put back in its specially-made metal box (elephants) and fixed to the tree with a lock and strong cables (thieves). Back in the 4×4 and off to the next camera, we pass a cliff face at the side of the dirt road where a small hammer and sickle has been etched into the rock — most likely a remnant of Communist guerillas, who were known to use Thap Lan’s remote forests as a hideout during the 1970s. Next stop is the start of a trail close to a particular, memorable, tree. Wildlife ranger Tirawat Gotsamrong aka “Gai” (which means “Chicken”) leads the way into the dense bamboo forest.