(2 October) Phuket police have arrested another suspect accused of hawking the slow loris to take photos with tourists following an American pop star′s Tweet which showed her with the protected animal during her trip to the popular island province.
The internationally famous singer had posted a picture of herself with a slow loris – a furry animal with huge eyes – with a caption "Look who was talkin [sic] dirty to me!" during her visit in Phuket 2 weeks ago.
Yesterday, a joint task force in Kathu district stopped a man who had been loitering with a small loris in public in order to charge tourists for taking pictures with the animal.
Police then asked Mr. Warawuth Sai-Udom, a Kalasin resident, to provide documents regarding his right to possess the loris. The man failed to do so and was promptly arrested.
Mr. Warawuth told police that the slow loris was delivered to him by a man known as ‘Mr.Wichien’.
Mr. Weera Koedmongkol, Director of Kathu district, said that the suppression against illegal possession of protected animal has been conducted continuously by the Phuket provincial authority. However, despite several arrests, the crime still persists, he said.
A week after Rihanna left Phuket for her Diamond World Tour in Singapore, Mr. Weera and his team had arrested 2 men for illegally possessing the animal. He was quoted by the Associated Press that Rihanna′s Tweet had alerted the police to crack down on the trade.
The sheriff expressed his belief that Mr. Warawuth, the suspect arrested yesterday, was "only a pawn" in the larger gang of loris trafficking.
Kathu police then pressed charges against the man for possessing animals of protected species. The penalty of the charge is 4 years imprisonment or 40,000 baht fine.
Police said the slow loris will be taken to the Wildlife Conservation Centre in Phang-Nga province.
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