The news follows one beach-goer providing photos of two photo touts each with a slow loris on Kata Beach last Thursday (July 14).
“In the last few days I’ve seen four different men with slow loris on Kata Beach. One of the touts was pretty aggressive when he realised I wasn’t there to pay him,” the beach-goer told The Phuket News.
“I didn’t know that loris touts had returned to the beach,” Lt Col Chawalit Niamwadee, Inspector of Karon Police said in response.
“We arrested one tout a few weeks ago, and I will organise a team of non-uniform officers to investigate this,” he added.
Piyawat Sukon, who as Chief of the Khao Phra Thaew Non-Hunting Area Office in Thalang is responsible for the welfare of wildlife animals in Phuket and neighbouring provinces, said his office would also look into the report.
“Just two weeks ago we arrested a loris tout in the Karon area with the assistance of the Karon Police,” he told The Phuket News.
“We have got rid of a lot of loris touts at Patong Beach, but obviously there are still some in Karon. I will send my officials to investigate.” he said.
The exploitation of the slow loris, a nocturnal creature native to the area, has proved difficult to eradicate in Phuket as many tourists find the animal cute and often have no idea that possession of a loris without a permit is illegal, as is using the animal as a photo opportunity to make money.
International artist Rihanna in 2013 was blasted on the internet for having her photo taken with a slow loris (see story here), while many tourists trying to “save” lorises by buying them from touts at exorbitant prices and returning them to wildlife officials have been censured of providing incentive to touts to continue their trade (see story here.)