Piyawat Sukon, Chief of the Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area Conservation Centre in Thalang, led a team of officers to Kata Beach yesterday after receiving tip-offs from tourists.
The tip-offs reported that a tout was walking along the beach and charging tourists to have their photos taken with a slow loris.
When Mr Piyawat and his team arrived at the beach, still dressed in their uniforms, as is required when performing official duties, they saw the tout on the sand, but much further along the beach.
“We nearly caught him,” Mr Piyawat told The Phuket News.
“We believe that he was tipped off by other vendors on the beach as we were heading up the beach to catch him,” he said.
The tout left the slow loris he had in hand and ran off on foot, Mr Piyawat explained.
Mr Piyawat, on behalf of the DNP, filed formal report of the incident to the Karon Police.
“My officials saw his face. We believe that we have seen this man before,” Mr Piyawat said.
“We have given a description to the Karon Police for them to find him, and we have brought the slow loris back with us to Khao Phra Thaew,” he added.
Local police were not available to assist the team yesterday, he said.
“I have been coordinating with local municipalities and police about stopping illegal slow loris touts, but they continue all around Phuket because the benefit is worth it. The fine is so low,” he said.
Mr Piyawat thanked tourists for providing the tip-off and welcomed anyone to report sightings of illegal possession and mistreatment of wild animals directly to him on 089-8737749.
“You can report these sightings to me directly. I speak basic English, if you are a foreigner, please speak simply and say what animal you saw, where, and when, or other important details,” he added.