Local wildlife officers accompanied by police attached to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) arrested Nares Sang-agart, 32, in front of the Kata Palm Resort at about 8:30pm, explained Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area Conservation Centre Chief Piyawat Sukon.
“He was found carrying a slow loris that was about one year old. It is the first time that we have recorded this particular loris in our records,” Chief Piyawat said.
The arrest came from a tip-off received on Oct 21 that was addressed to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Director-General and the Chief of the Natural Resources and Environment Crime Suppression Division, Chief Piyawat explained.
Nares confessed to charging tourists to having their photo taken with the animal, Chief Piyawat said.
“He put the loris on the tourist’s hand or shoulder. They thought the loris is so cute, they could not resist. He charged B100 each time, and just yesterday he made B500 from working like this,” he added.
Nares was charged with illegal possession of a protected animal, Chief Piyawat confirmed.
“He confessed to the charge. This was the third time he has been charged with this,” he noted.
Nares was arrested in Karon on May 21 this year and arrested at Bang Tao in November last year, both times for illegal possession of a slow loris that he was using to charge tourists to have their photo taken with. (See stories here and here.)
Chief Piyawat said that he hoped for a heavier sentence to be handed down to Nares to deter the tout from continuing to exploit animals for personal profit.
Nares will be the first person in Phuket to face the increased penalty for wildlife touts under the new Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 2019*, replacing the old act that was drafted in 1992.
"We have written the arrest report to be used as evidence in court. It clearly states that this is the third arrest for repeatedly violating the same law, and the new law has increased the maximum penalty to up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to B500,000, or both,” Chief Piyawat said.
The previous maximum sentence under the old law was up to four years in jail or a fine of up to B40,000, or both
“We look forward to the suspect the detainees being punished at the discretion of the court,” Chief Piyawat said.
Mr Piyawat continued his offer for anyone to report sightings of illegal possession and mistreatment of wild animals directly to him on 089-8737749.
* See Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act 2019 in Thai here.