PHUKET: Three gibbon touts were arrested in front of the Andaman Resort on Phi Phi Don as they attempted to cajole tourists into using the protected species as a prop for photographs last weekend.
“The police did a great job. They have finally improved their efforts on cracking down on these animal touts,” said Suwat Suksiri, chief of the Thung Talay Non Hunting Zone. “The key is that tourists tipped them off, so they were able to arrest all three at once.”
The suspects were in possession of gibbons ranging from one and a half years old to just nine months.
“Gibbons are generally brought over from Phuket. These baby gibbons, costing about 25,000 baht each, are sourced from the wild by poachers who take them from their mother. The mother is killed in the process,” Mr Suwat said.
The suspects were named as Abdulvaris Imuesa, 21; Chaiyarak Ninsamut, 20, and Anucha Bangsai, 21.
The three were charged for the illegal possession of a protected wild animal.
The three gibbons were taken to the Phang Nga Wildlife Nursery Station.
“Our goal is to rid Phi Phi of gibbon touts. We really appreciate the help of citizens and would like people to continue to send leads in to us,” Mr Suwat said.
Mr Suwat believes that there are still more than 17 gibbons on Phi Phi Island that need to be rescued.
One of the touts told officials that he could make at least 5,000 baht per day during the low season and up to 20,000 baht per day during high season.
With the possibility of making more than 500,000 baht a month during the high season, the maximum punishment of not more than 4,000 baht, four years imprisonment or both is hardly a deterrent, noted Mr Suwat.
— Kongleaphy Keam
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