BCST is the longest-established nature conservation NGO in Thailand. It originated from the Association for the Conservation of Wildlife (ACW), founded by Dr. Boonsong Lekagul, the Father of Nature Conservation Thailand, on April 14, 1953. He used his home, located at Soi Chareonkrung 36 (Trok Rongpasri), Bangrak, Bangkok, as an education and research centre for nature, wildlife and forest conservation enthusiasts. He took up the post of secretary of the Association, as well as being an illustrator and writer about birds and wildlife, regularly publishing in science magazines since 1955.

Dr. Boonsong Lekagul

In 1962, expats who loved birdwatching organised the Bangkok Bird Club (BBC), of which Mr. Edward C. Dickenson was the honorary secretary. These were both amateur and professional birdwatchers, with Thai and foreign ornithologists meeting up to undertake serious study of birds in Thailand. They organised field trips, meetings and regularly exchanged information about birds and nature conservation.

In 1976 Dr. Boonsong Lekagul integrated birdwatching activities into his Association and named it, in Thai, for the first time as the Bangkok Birdwatching Group. He appointed Mr. Joe Pauly, an American birdwatcher, as the president. The Group’s first meeting was in February 1976 at the American University Alumni Association, Ratchadamri Road, Lumpini, Patumwan, Bangkok, under the patronage of His Majesty the King. English was the language used at the meetings and they started publishing monthly newsletters in English. They organised meetings and birdwatching trips on every second Thursday of each month.

In March 1978 Mr. Joe Pauly went back to the USA and from then on, Dr. Boonsong Lekagul then volunteered to continue the birdwatching group. He took up its presidency and gave it a new name, the “Bird group, Pro-wild Association”. The Oriental Magpie Robin was chosen as its logo to reflect a bird which is easy to spot, has a beautiful call and lives close to human habitation. In general the Bird group, Pro-wild Association would have meetings at Dr. Boonsong‘s place. Later, as they had more responsibilities, they left the Association and were re-named the “Bangkok Birdwatching Group“. Mr. Wirut Juntarasmi was appointed as the president and formed a committee comprised of Thais and expats. Later the group moved their monthly meeting place to the Faculty of Sciences, Mahidol University, Bangkok. By this point there were many more new members joining in the Group’s activities.

In May 1984 M.R Pratyakorn Worawan, Father of M.L. Parinyakorn Worawan (the number one wildlife photographer of Thailand), was Acting President. The monthly meetings moved venue to the Tab Neelanithi Building, Faculty of Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Thai was used as the language for the meetings.

In March 1986 they published their magazine both in Thai and English for the first time. The original logo of a rather plump Oriental magpie robin was changed to the beautiful slender one which is still used today. M.L. Pratyakorn Worawan was magazine editor together with Dr. Phillip D. Round. Most of its members were Thais. A temporary committee was set up and the name changed to the Bangkok Birdwatching Club. Mr. Kamol Komolplin was appointed as the first president. They had committee meetings, published magazines and organised monthly birdwatching field trips. At this point the club had about 1,000 members participating in its several activities. Thus the committee put in place rules and regulations to use as guidelines for operating and administration in order to progress their work in the future. Dr. Boonsong Lekagul stayed involved in these activities all along.

Subsequently the Bangkok Birdwatching Club took on many more activities, including working at an official capacity with government parties. Having become seriously involved with nature conservation all over Thailand the members agreed to progress the club to become the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST). They registered BCST as a legal organisation on July 12, 1993 and had Mr. Suthee Supparatwikorn as the first Associate President. 

Suthee Supparatvikorn (right) receiving donations from Tippawan Tantithadapitak (left)

Group photo with Phra Thēpwisutthiwēthī

Nowadays BCST remains actively involved in nature conservation all over Thailand. BCST’s main vision is the sustainable promotion of the relationship between birds, nature, and humans. It is committed to enabling society to be aware of the importance of birds, habitats, and natural resources by many means, stimulating various parties to be involved in working to develop sustainably. The various activities it undertakes include birdwatching, education, and conservation plus co-operating with international organisations.

BCST with Soraida Salwala (center) from Friends of the Asian Elephant

Santana Pleumchusak (left) with Mongkol Wongkalasin (right)

Volunteers helping with the opening ceremony

In November 1996 the Society became a full partner of Birdlife International and was the first country in South-east Asia to officially join BirdLIfe and is now one of sixteen partners in Asia.

A number of BCST’s activities have been carried out over the years, often continuously, such as:

– The Asian Waterbird Census in January. This activity was started for the first time in 2005. It is a mega-event in birdwatching and is a bird census that takes place at both saltwater and freshwater wetlands. Volunteers participate in this activity all over Thailand each year to count several hundred-thousand birds. All the data collected is used to build up a picture of the quality of the wetlands.

– Bird-walks were started in 2008. This activity organises free birdwatching every weekend, taking place in several big parks in and around Bangkok such as the Vachirabenjatas (Suan Rot Fai), Suan Luang Rama 9, Suan Somdej Pranangchao Sirikit and Buddhamonthon parks. Several tens of thousands of people have participated.

– Field trips, for birdwatching and for walking nature trails, take place in several national parks all over Thailand. These are organised 3-4 times a month. This activity has been running since the founding of the Bangkok Birdwatching Group in 1976.

– The International Thailand Bird Fair in November. This activity has been running since it started in 2001. It could be described as the greatest and the oldest nature conservation exhibition in Thailand. During this time there have been several hundred exhibits about nature conservation from many organisations including the government, private sectors, and non-profit-organisations.

– Birds and the Upper Thai Gulf Wetlands Conservation Project. This project has been set up to conserve both the resident and migratory shorebirds which use the flyway from the north of Asia whilst maintaining a good environment for the salt pan farmers. The goal is for the farmers to be able to continue their way of life together with the birds in a healthy, sustainable manner.

– Forest conservation project in Khao Pra Bang Kram Wildlife Sanctuary, Krabi. This project has been set up since 1986. It is in one of Thailand’s wildlife reserves and is the last habitat of Gurney’s Pitta, a noteworthy endangered species in Thailand.

To contact for membership enquiries or to support BCST please write to 221, Moo2, Soi Ngamwongwan27, Bangkhane, Muang District, Nontaburi, 11000. Tel. Number 02-588-2277, 064-458-9899. Alternative we have web-sites at www.bcst.or.th or www.facebook.com/bcst.or.th where you can find many news updates and information. You can email to bcst@bcst.or.th

Please help to build sustainable relationships between birds, nature, and humans.