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This Thai national park was tired of visitors leaving trash, so the government mailed it back to them

The package includes a note: “You forgot something at Khao Yai National Park.”


Garbage left by tourists at Khao Yai National Park in Thailand is packed up to be mailed back to them, with a note reading, “You forgot something at Khao Yai National Park.” (Varawut Silpa-archa/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Earlier this week, Thailand’s natural resources and environment minister shared a new way of dealing with tourists who leave behind their trash: mailing it back to them.

On his Facebook page, Varawut Silpa-archa posted a photo of a box of trash left at a national park that appeared ready to be mailed back to its original owners along with a note that said, “You forgot something at Khao Yai National Park.”

Varawut later posted that the government will take strict measures to blacklist visitors who damage national parks or are noisy and disruptive. He cited two recent examples of bad behavior, including the offending group of tourists who left garbage in their rented tent at Khao Yai, and a group of allegedly drunken tourists who camped at Namtok Samlan National Park.

Varawut said visitors are not allowed to leave trash behind at park campsites, be drunk in public or make any noise after 10 p.m. Tourists who do not follow the rules will be instructed to leave immediately.

Mailing trash to Khao Yai’s offending tourists is not the norm. According to the Bangkok Post, the standard punishment for littering is a fine or jail time. Those caught littering can be fined up to 500,000 baht (about $16,000) and or be held in jail for up to five years per Thailand’s National Park Act.

The country’s tourism board applauded the drastic move.

“We applaud Khao Yai National Park and The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment for their commitment to maintaining the beauty and wellbeing of our country’s natural resources,” Charinya Kiatlapnachai, director of the tourism authority of Thailand, said in an email. “Thailand’s national parks and wildlife have had time to recover from damaging results of tourism such as littering over the past six months and this gesture has the best of intentions to ensure we all do our part to help our country remain clean, safe and beautiful.”

After closing during the coronavirus pandemic, Khao Yai reopened July 1 with new protocols in place, limiting capacity at the more than 837-square-mile park to 5,000 visitors.

Additionally, visitors must now make reservations online and check in using an app called Thai Chana. Those visiting will also have their temperatures taken on arrival.

While litter in the park is the latest news out of Khao Yai, the park has had some good news during the pandemic. Khao Yai’s animal population has been thriving thanks to the sharp decline of tourists.

“The park has been able to restore itself,” Chananya Kanchanasaka, a national park department veterinarian, told the New York Times. “We are excited to see the animals are coming out.”

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