Bangkok’s Rare Storks
storks nesting beside the Wat Phai Lom temple
[credit: Dr Martin Williams]
The mission of many temples and monasteries – whatever
their faith – is to be places of sanctuary. But Wat Phai
Lom, on the outskirts of Bangkok, provides a very
special form of sanctuary: for thousands of birds,
seeking a place to breed.
In 1955 the
open-billed stork was almost extinct in Thailand – and
indeed almost everywhere else in Asia. The only
remaining colony was at Phai Lom Temple, and even there,
and even with the species being protected by law after
1960, the birds were persecuted by poachers who attacked
them with slingshots.
It took the monks and
supportive conservationists reminding people of their
Buddhist beliefs, to stop the hunting. Wat Phai Lom’s
status as a bird sanctuary is now established by law,
and more importantly is recognised by the community.
Some of this work was supported by WWF’s Network of
Religions and Conservation.
In 1964 there
were just 4,000 open-billed storks in Thailand. By 1980
there were about 30,000. Today there are many more: so
many that in January 2003 the villagers of Ban Than
village were complaining that the huge population of
birds were raiding their fruit orchards.
teachings emphasise the importance of co-existing with
nature, rather than trying to conquer it. Devout
Buddhists try to live a lifestyle that involves
conservation rather than waste, compassion rather than
Websites with more
The full story of the Wat Phai Lom storks
Buddhist Perception of Nature and protecting the