by Nick Upton
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Abuse of Wildlife for Tourists
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The very upsetting sight of 3 juvenile Slow Lorises and 1 very young macaque monkey dressed in ridiculous knitted clothes and being offered to tourists for photographs was only ecplised by the even more ridiculously dressed European tourists who were paying to have their photos taken with the unfortunate animals at Pattaya Beach on 9th March 2008.

Far from being cracked down upon, the owners of these animals were openly parading them around outside a busy 7/11 store and neighbouring Starbucks on the beach road, Pattaya. One particularly unfortunate Loris was being touted around in the daylight and was in obvious distress, a further two Lorises and the macaque had joined the first one by the early evening and a nearby grinning policeman did nothing to deter the practice.

When questioned upon the origin of the animals the owners claimed that they had been bred in captivity, but when further pressed they confirmed that actually the parents of the animals had been killed in the wild and the babies taken from them.

All those reading this sad note please pass on to any less well-informed friends that they may have who are anticipating holidaying in Thailand or somewhere similar that any animals offered in such a way for tourist photographs are illegally obtained and often (usually?) badly abused by their owners.

The Wildlife Friends of Thailand have also recently reported receiving a number of lorises for rehabilitation: Lorises rescued again; when will the trade stop?

Nick Upton, 10/03/08.

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A successful raid on Ko Samui by the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division of the Royal Thai Police ended with the confiscation of 8 baby White-handed Gibbons with the owners charged with illegal wildlife possession and animal torture.

The practice of offering tourists the opportunity to have their photos taken with often endangered species has been rife on Ko Samui and this crackdown is welcome. In order to obtain 1 baby gibbon it has been estimated that 8 gibbons die as the only way to obtain a baby is to shoot the mother.

Confiscated Gibbon
(Photo from Wildlife Friends of Thailand)

Further good news is that there are also crackdowns anticipated in other tourist regions of Thailand including Krabi, Phuket and Pattaya.

For full article and more photos see Wildlife Friends of Thailand website.

Nick Upton, 26/11/07 from information on Wildlife Friends of Thailand website, reproduced with the kind permission of Edwin Wiek.


More depressing news of gibbons being used for tourist photo opportunities came from Ko Panyee, a touristy village in Ao Phang-nga National Park. Three baby gibbons were being openly touted for this purpose on the 27th December 2006 despite the fact that a single gibbon had been observed and reported to the Wildlife Department in March 2006, after the observer had been encouraged to do so by the gibbon rehabilitation project in Phuket.

Sad to hear that instead of this pratice being stopped it has been allowed to increase.

Nick Upton, 3rd January 2007.


A report from Phuket of: three Brahminy Kites and two White bellied Sea Eagles being used for tourists to have photographs taken with on Ike Suriwong's Phuket Birders Blog was saddening. Apparently, 100-200 baht per photo with one of these birds was being charged, and this reminded me of similar observations I made at Patong beach in 2001 and 2002. On these occasions I saw a White-bellied Sea Eagle, numerous Gibbons, an Orang Utan and a huge Python being used in this way. Even though trade in these species is illegal they were openly being displayed by their owners (kidnappers) with nearby police paying no attention.

It goes without saying that no visitor to Thailand should get involved with such an activity as it simply perpetuates the trade in these, often endangered, species.

Nick Upton, 15 December 2006.

Related Pages: Bird Persecution , Birds for sale at Chatuchak.
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