(Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

There are only a few places where you can easily catch sight of one of Thailand's most majestic mammals, the gaur. Khao Phaeng Ma of Nakhon Ratchasima's Wang Nam Khieo district is one such place.

Recently, the non-hunting area, which sits on the northeastern border of Khao Yai National Park, was back in the news because a group of visitors ignored the rules and drove into the fenced gaur habitat.

Such an act was not only illegal and dangerous — both to the trespassers and the wild bovine — but also unnecessary. The truth is, at Khao Phaeng Ma the gaur shows up in large numbers virtually every day, in the morning and late afternoon, to forage in the hilly grassland which can be observed from designated lookout points. Visitors with binoculars, or, even better, a telescope mounted on a tripod, can get a close look at the animals without disturbing them.

Also, it's not unusual that the gaur venture close to the fence, sometimes close enough for the lucky visitors who happened to be at the right place at the right time to take decent photos of them without the need for a big telephoto lens.

The most convenient way to reach Khao Phaeng Ma is to drive to Wang Nam Khieo via Highway 304. At Kilometre 83, to the west, you'll find a side road that runs along the northern rim of Khao Yai. Follow that road for about 4km and you'll find the access road up Khao Phaeng Ma.

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