Wild animals walked along the hills in northeastern Thailand as Covid-19 continues to stop tourism.
Elephants and serows could be seen moving along the Khao Yai National Park’s mountains to find food during monsoon season in Nakhon Ratchasima province on August 16.
Authorities tightened Covid-19 measures such as travel bans and stay-at-home recommendations to keep the cases under control leaving the animals undisturbed in parks.
Local tour guide Reuttichai Kengsoongnoen said: ‘I have no income because of Covid-19. Most of my clients are foreign tourists but because of the lockdown, nobody would book for a trek.
‘All you could see now walking on the trail are animals. They used to shy away when there are people but they’re just everywhere now.’
Serows are endangered animals that live along mountains with cliffs covered with dense forests while elephants roam through the deep jungle and in the country’s protected national parks.
Thailand has recorded 989,859 Covid-19 cases and 8,586 deaths as of August 19 but its economy has been devastated – with a ban on incoming tourists since March 22 last year.
Plans to re-open the country to tourists involve ‘sandbox’ quarantine areas where vaccinated visitors can stay while roaming around beaches and bars for 14 days.
However, economists fear that it could be up to five years before the country’s tourism industry returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Two years ago tourism made up an estimated 21 per cent of Thailand’s GDP, generating 1.8 trillion baht in revenue. However, the country’s National Economic and Social Development Council predicted that it could be another five years before similar numbers are seen.
Analysts said that between now and 2026, around seven million workers will continue to be affected by the economic harm from the Covid-19 pandemic.