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Illegal gibbon touts spotted on Phi Phi again [video]

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Illegal gibbon touts spotted on Phi Phi again [video] | Thaiger

PHUKET: Officers are hunting more gibbon touts on Phi Phi Island after receiving a video of a man using the protected species as a photo prop for tourists.

“The video was taken on Saturday, but we’ll send someone out to see if the touts are still there or not,” said Phi Phi Police Chief Jetsada Junphum.

Though officers have struggled with touts getting the drop on them and fleeing before they arrived on the island’s only paved boardwalk, Lt Col Jetsada did not specify whether or not officers being tasked with the investigation would be going undercover.

“I was just walking down the street in the middle of the day when I saw the man and the gibbon. The ape was already in the hands of a tourist who was posing for a picture,” said the tourist, who declined to be named, but sent the video to the Phuket Gazette.

“We haven’t received a complaint for more than a month now. Before that, we faced similar issues at Monkey Beach, but were never able to catch anyone,” Col Jetsada said. “We appreciate the tip-off.”

Another video tip-off was sent to officials in November, yet the evidence yielded no results.

“Sometimes they have lookouts who will spot our officers on patrol – so they are able to hide before we see them,” Col Jetsada said in November. “I am aware that they make good money from this kind of business, which is why they persistently return, despite us making arrests.”

One tout, arrested earlier this year, told officials that he could earn at least 5,000 baht per day during the low season and up to 20,000 baht per day during the high season.

With the possibility of making more than 500,000 baht a month during the high season, the maximum punishment – not more than a 4,000-baht fine, four years imprisonment or both – is hardly a deterrent, explained Suwat Suksiri, chief of the Thung Talay Non Hunting Zone.

Gibbons are generally brought to Phi Phi from Phuket. These baby gibbons, costing about 25,000 baht each, are sourced from the wild by poachers who take them from their mothers. The mother is killed in the process, Mr Suwat explained.

Complaints or tip-offs can be sent to the Gazette or filed directly with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) hotline at 1362.

— Kongleaphy Keam

 

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