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South Africans confident of ‘Monkey Island’ Plan

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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South Africans confident of ‘Monkey Island’ Plan | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Two South African conservationists who hope to open a Monkey Island primate sanctuary off Phuket paid a visit to Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit, but their goal to open the center as a new tourist attraction by the end of next year still has a lot of red tape to clear before becoming a reality.

Zambian-born Tony Blignaut, CEO of Primates Resort Limited, and his partner Ronald Derek Taurog of the ‘Touch a Monkey’s Heart Foundation’ met with Gov Niran yesterday morning.

The South Africans last September applied for permission to develop a community-based project incorporating two small islands – Koh Aew and Koh Tanan – off Phuket’s southeast coast.

The project would not leave any development “footprint” on the islands themselves, Mr. Blignaut said.

The project’s goal is conservation of primate species and other wildlife, increasing environmental awareness and supporting Phuket’s tourism industry, he added.

The pair hope to open an attraction similar to their Monkeyland and Birds on Eden sanctuaries in South Africa’s Plettenberg Bay, which have become major tourist attraction since they first opened in 1998.

The investors envision setting Koh Aew up as a world-class primate research facility, where access would be restricted to primate academics, this would place Thailand right at the fore-front of primate conservation in the World.

Tourists would have access to view the primates only at tiny Koh Tanan in Chalong Bay, where a pier 60 meters long would serve as a sort of “shopfront” for the main sanctuary.

For a fee, tourists could view some 30 primates on display there or enjoy a meal or visit any of 40 stalls to be run by local people, who would not be required to pay rent.

The local community in Chalong has expressed strong initial support for the project, which would be of particular benefit to longtail boatmen in Chalong Bay, Mr Blignaut said.

Mr Blignaut said he hoped to develop Koh Aew as a world leader in primate conservation and maintain healthy populations of various species there until such time as they can be successfully reintroduced into the wild – a process that could take hundreds, or even 1,000 years, he said.

“Since our application last year, the governor has appointed a working committee to consider the project. The committee has already considered the environmental impacts of the project. We also have a team from Prince of Songkla University in Haad Yai helping us study the environmental impact, both on land and in the sea,” he said.

The researchers, who need to conclude two more surveys, are expected to submit their findings in September, he said.

Strict environmental controls, would be put in place on both islands and strict quarantine procedures would be maintained to prevent the spread of simian diseases, he added.

To move forward, the project will need the support and permission of Wichit and Rawai Municipalities as well as a host of other government agencies.

Another matter that would have to be worked out would be whether the islands would be rented or the government would allow them to be used under a public-private investment scheme.

Despite the obstacles, Mr Blignaut seems confident of success.

“We expect that the project will be ready to open sometime between April and December next year,” he said.

“We estimate the total investment at about US$3 million. We are a non-profit organization, but we realize that conservation has to pay for itself. Our main goal is preserving primates, not return on investment – but whatever the cost is, we will find a way to come up with the money,” he said.

However, speaking with reporters a short time later, Gov Niran said that completing all the bureaucratic hurdles would be a long and difficult process.

The South Africans might have become unduly optimistic of success after the committee to study their proposal was formed, he added.

Both Wichit and Rawai municipalities already have their own plans to beautify the two islands and develop them into tourist attractions, he said.

“In my opinion, tourism promotion and development is always a positive thing, but the Thai government’s administrative system can cause many difficulties for potential investors,” he said.

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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