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Phuket orangutan “disappears’ ahead of police raid

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: A 13-year-old orangutan that conservationists were fighting to free from Phuket Zoo has gone missing, confirmed Wildlife Friends of Thailand (WFFT).

“Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division (NRECD) of the Royal Thai Police and Department of National Parks (DNP) agreed to investigate the case of Milo, agreeing to raid the zoo this morning,” Edwin Weik, the founder and director of WFFT, told the Phuket Gazette. “DNP regional wildlife office found that Milo was probably illegally being kept at the Phuket Zoo, as there was no orangutan legally registered at the location.”

Police officers arrived at the zoo this morning only to find that Milo was gone, said Mr Weik.

“All her photos with tourists were also removed from the zoo; they were even deleted from the Phuket Zoo’s website,” he said.

“The owner of the zoo told the group of police and witnesses that he had released Milo into the Khao Phrateaw Non-hunting area, a small patch of rain forest on Phuket. He further claimed that is were he found her two years ago.”

Pressure on the zoo about Milo began to mount after local animal-rights activist Vicki Kiely garnered more than 8,000 signatures on the online petition ‘Save Milo’ on (petition here).

“She [Milo] still has love and light in her, and deserves a far better life than the one she is living. Please sign to help us get Milo out of there,” the petition concludes in English and Thai.

Ms Kiely had been working on Milo’s case for about 6 months prior to getting enough momentum to persuade officials to raid the zoo.

“From what I know, she’s been in the zoo her whole life. She can’t survive in the wild in Phuket, or anywhere,” said Ms Kiely. “She needed to be saved from the inhuman conditions of her housing at the zoo, but not like this.”

At this point, the last publicly confirmed date of Milo’s presence at the zoo is an Instagram photo of Milo with a tourist. The photo was taken on February 15.

Today, Ms Kiely drove to the Phang Nga Wildlife Reserve, as well as the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Phuket in hopes of finding Milo.

“They said that they have not seen her at all, but they will keep an eye out for her,” said Ms Kiely

DNP officers have been ordered to track down Milo, confirmed Metee Meechai, director of the DNP Region 5.

“Orangutans are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). We have officers investigating this case,” said Mr Metee.

The Phuket Gazette contacted the Phuket Zoo. However, employees declined to comment and denied having contact information for the zoo manger.

“We are now doing all we can to locate and rescue Milo,” Mr Weik said.

The case of Milo is not the first of illegally smuggled and exploited orangutans on Phuket, reported WFFT in it’s statement titled: Milo the Orangutan is Gone!

A group of smuggled orangutans were returned from Thailand to Indonesia in 2015 following years of diplomatic wrangling over who will care for them after the majority were discovered abandoned on a roadside (story here).

“12 orangutans were found in another sub-standard zoo on the island in 2008, and after many months of campaigning, the orangutans disappeared only to be found in cages on the highway between Phuket and Phang Nga Province in February 2009,” said the WFFT statement. “The owners were never charged with illegal possession or trade in endangered wildlife.”

— Chutharat Plerin

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 New Phuket governor arrives October 1

The Thaiger



The New Phuket Governor will start to work on the island on October 1 while the current governor Norraphat Plodthong will be finishing at the end of next month.

The cabinet has approved the new Phuket governor to replace current Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong who will be retiring this September 30.

The new Phuket governor, Pakkapong Tawipat, is the current Phitsanulok Governor.

Governor Pakkapong’s qualifications include…

  • High school from Suankularb Wittayalai School.
  • Bachelor of Political Science,Chulalongkorn university
  • Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) American International College, Springfield Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Governor Pakkapong was also a former Phang Nga governor and a former Vice Governor of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and Saraburi in central Thailand.

Governors are shuffled around every 18 months to 2 years and appointed directly by the Thai Cabinet. Governor Norraphat started work on April 10, 2017.

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University students arrested with 14K methamphetamine pills

The Thaiger



Eight suspects have been arrested with over 14,000 methamphetamine pills and 104 grams of crystal methamphetamine over the past two days. Two of them are senior university students.

28 year old Tanapat Naoprai and Sarocha Horgiean were living at a house in Rawai. Both are senior law students of a university in Phuket. Officers seized 14,000 methamphetamine pills from their house. They were taken to the Chalong Police Station where they have been charged with illegal possession of Category 1 Drugs with intent to sell.

36 year old Wisit Poomnak was arrested at Chalong Temple. Officers seized 8.38 grams of crystal methamphetamine and 18 methamphetamine pills. He was taken to the Chalong Police Station where he was charged with illegal possession of Category 1 Drug with intent to sell.

30 year old Nantawan Sritongkun was arrested in front of a FamilyMart in Chalong. Officers seized 7 methamphetamine pills. She was taken to the Chalong Police Station where she has been charged with illegal possession of Category 1 Drugs.

27 year old Mallika Songmuang was arrested at a house in Wichit. Officers seized 0.47 grams of crystal methamphetamine. She was taken to the Wichit Police Station where she has been charged with illegal possession of Category 1 Drugs.

27 year old Tachama Nengnoi and 20 year old Tabpon Nengnoi were arrested at a house in Wichit also. Officers seized from Tachama 28.68 grams of crystal methamphetamine and 79 methamphetamine pills.  Officer also seized from Tabpon 1.89 grams of crystal methamphetamine, a handgun and 37 bullets.

Tachama and Tabpon were taken to the Wichit Police Station. Tachama has been charged with illegal possession of Categoty 1 Drugs with intent to sell. Tabpon has been charged with illegal possession of firearm and ammunition and Category 1 Drugs with intent to sell.

And 41 year old Rsart Tawan was arrested on Wichit Songkram Road in Phuket Town. Officers seized 100 methamphetamine pills. He was taken to the Phuket City Police Station where he was charged with illegal possession of Category 1 Drugs with intent to sell.

Officers also found a bag containing 100.60 grams of crystal methamphetamine inside a box under a tree in Soi Rat-U-thit in Wichit.


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One rescued, one dead, one missing in Phuket surf

The Thaiger



Nai Harn lifeguards have rescued a male Chinese tourist from the surf whilst another female Chinese tourists was later found dead on the beach. Another one was also reported missing at Karon beach yesterday (August 13).

Lifeguards at Nai Harn Beach were notified at 7pm after finishing work that two swimmers were having trouble in the surf. Two lifeguards went into the water with up to two metre waves.

A male Chinese tourist was fished out of the surf while the female Chinese tourist remained missing. A search was immediately launched.

At 10.10pm, the body of the missing female Chinese tourist was found to have washed up on Nai Harn Beach, not far from where she went missing.

Just north at Karon Beach, Police were alerted at 7pm that a tourist was missing. A search was launched and kept going until midnight. As of this morning, the swimmers has not yet been located.


PHOTOS: Wiset 1/ News Hawk Phuket

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