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Cute and abused: a slow loris in the hands of a Patong tourist

Patong Touts 'Losing Wildlife Battle'

Sunday, November 4, 2012
PHUKET: Wildlife official Awat Nitikul believes the battle is being won against touts who carry protected slow lorises in and around Soi Bangla, Patong's nightlife hub.

''Three more people were arrested this week,'' he said. ''So far this year we have returned at least 10 of the creatures to their natural habitat.''

The wide eyes and natural appeal of the lorises leads them to be used by touts who entice tourists to have their photographs taken with the animals.

But the lorises are protected and are not supposed to be abused in this way. Some tourists are aware of the need to protect native animals and walk on.

Others stop to have their photos taken. A third group these days tends to know the law and contacts local police or Tourist Police.

Khun Awat said this week that the Environmental Conservation Unit, based in parkland at Khao Prathaew, in Thalang, central Phuket, needs the help of local authorities to deal with the issue.

''We rely on local police, tourist police and Patong council officers to alert us when these touts are spotted,'' he said.

''We hope they are as aware as we are that the slow lorises should not be treated in this fashion.''

Two more touts are known to still be operating in Patong's Soi Bangla.

Most of the creatures are first captured in Ranong, a province north of Phang Nga and Phuket, where the population of lorises remains quite large, he said.

When touts are arrested, the lorises are taken to be checked and returned to full health at a centre in Phang Nga before they are returned to the wild.

The conservation unit's office is open every day in central Phuket. Tourists can enjoy three walks of different lengths around a waterfall in the Khao Prathaew park.

About 100 birds species have been spotted in the park, along with other Thai native fauna and flora.

Bookings can be made at 076 311998. Tourists are free to call Khun Awat at any time on 086 6897040 if they see lorises in Patong.

Comments

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I was on Bangla last night and saw at least 5 Touts with their Loris' and no Police, not to mention the touts promoting the, according to the authorities, non-existent ping-pong shows.

Posted by Jerry on November 4, 2012 13:05

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I see touts with lorises every afternoon on Bangla. They don't seem too worried about being arrested. They're right out in the open for all to see.

Posted by Day on November 4, 2012 17:07

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''We rely on local police, tourist police and Patong council officers to alert us when these touts are spotted,'


How about using the much publicized CCTV cameras ??

The ability is there, all it takes is the will to do it. Seems that everyone else except the police can see these touts on Bangla, every night.

Posted by Andrew on November 4, 2012 17:37

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Yesterday there were about 4 or 5 in bangla, operating right in front of the tourist police car. And whats wrong with these people who bargain a tank top that cost 100bahts but are happy to give 100's to kids who sell flowers and loris touts.
Anyway the battle will never be won, its out of control, the touts also operate along 200 pee road, one guy with the loris taking pics with stupid tourists, another guy on a motorbike following closely. When police come they hide the loris inside their puffer jacket and drive off. Every day. . .

Posted by mike on November 4, 2012 19:21

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I see these touts everyday in Bangla, daytime or nightime, officers are not looking hard enough, just go to Soi Eric

Posted by Anonymous on November 4, 2012 21:06

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Friday night in Patong. After seeing at least 6 touts with these animals on Soi Bangla, I walked to the Police Office on the beach opposite Soi Bangla to inform them. They said they couldn't do anything because when they go in uniform the touts disappear only plain clothes officers can catch them. It's a joke, no laws are properly enforced here. Things will only change when tourists go elsewhere but with the type of tourist you get in Patong it's going to be a long wait. Does anyone know why many Russian men think it's normal to walk around shirtless at night ?

Posted by Anonymous on November 4, 2012 23:18

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Isn't it quite pathetic that a national agency charged with the protection of wildlife etc is completely undermined by the fact that the BIB are the ones who are really in charge. There is almost no point in having a regulator if the regulator is impotent.

Posted by Geoff on November 5, 2012 10:23

Editor Comment:

I don't think the lorises who have been released into the wild would complain, Geoff. To expect developing countries to achieve overnight the same understanding of animal rights as developed countries, where progress has taken centuries and where cruelty still often applies, is unrealistic.

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Ed - Re Your reply to Geoff - Once again your bleeding heart liberalism rears its ugly head, and shows your bias. It's clear the cops are in on this deal, with only token example-setting. And it's so bleeding obvious that it could be wiped out at a stroke if there was any real intent to do so. But there isn't. I suggest you re-read all the above reader's comments. It is hardly a cultural issue which in your view allows scope for leeway to be given - it is a law-enforcement issue pure and simple (yet again).

Posted by stu on November 5, 2012 11:06

Editor Comment:

We've proved our keenness to solve the issue by going to Soi Bangla several times, photographing what's happening and writing about it. If you and others are as concerned as you appear to be, get down there with a camera, take photos, and send us your reports.

It's a cultural issue. And it's not the direct responsibility of local police to investigate wildlife laws, any more than they investigate parkland encroachment. ''Wiped out at a stroke'' is a measure of your overworked (overdeveloped, perhaps) imagination. Thanks, but re-reading comments is something I'll leave for another day.
And please try to not confuse your cliches. ''bleeding heart liberalism rears its ugly head'' . . .

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Think the touts may be moving their business to Kata. Last Friday saw touts with Loris', gibbons , lizards; all making lots of money from the stupid tourists.
Informed the police, didn't want to know!

Posted by Anonymous on November 5, 2012 11:56

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I make no reference whatsoever to animal rights, and I have rather diluted expectations to begin with. I merely make reference to the fact that the BIB control who works and who does not work the streets. In this case, and in many other examples, it is a shame that a national agency is powerless to act in the manner which it is supposed to, as their position is 100% undermined by those who choose at their discretion which laws to enforce, and hence which ones to extract income from. Personally I don't care too much for a few rodents being used for photos, no big deal.

Posted by geoff on November 5, 2012 13:23

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I even post video on youtube and I sent the webaddress to the mobile number above about touts using lorisis. Two video about same ladies and same people.. Nothing happened. Still they are in Patong every day making their bad job.. Easy to film them.. Why not easy to catch?? Amazing Thailand...

Posted by richard on November 5, 2012 13:54

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just walked bangla and counted 7 of them within not even 20 seconds..

Posted by nolorinohoni on November 6, 2012 01:33

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Walking down Soi Bangla yesterday morning around 11am I saw a foreign couple being photographed with a Lori by a Thai. That was 25 meters away from the police booth. It's a joke because nobody cares at all.

Posted by eyewitness on November 10, 2012 01:24


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