Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wildlife exposed and trafficked in Thailand - and authorities don't care

You would think that Rihannas instagram picture with a gibbon would have emberrased Thai authorities enough to start a crackdown on wildlife trafficking and exploiting to tourists. Or that the uproar had an impact on tourists. But nothing actually happened. Two people were arrested on Phuket, but I don't even know if they ended up in jail, what would be unlikely.

Yesterday we walked down the main street in Chaweng on Kho Samui Island. In plain sight two thugs with gibbons, hanging them on tourists shoulders and making money from taking an instant photograph. When I took my first picture of them, they looked quite uncomfortable, but went on with the business.

It is very sad to see that tourists still go for it. I talked to one guy that he shouldn't do that and that it is illegal, and he responded "so are many things in Thailand". Even our friends were not much interested in the incident.

We later had a beer at Bondi Grill, and the guys showed up, standing in front of the restaurant and looking for business. I asked the waitress what can be done, but she said she can't do anything because it is outside. I told her it is illegal to do that under Thai law and if she please can call the police. She said "They will run away when they see police" and denied to call. 

So my wife called the police, and the officer sounded quite excited, repeated location and said they would send officers. What actually came some minutes later were two guys on a motobike, stopping in front of the gibbon mafia, speaking shortly and drove away. Suddenly the guys with the primates went into a side street. What was also interesting was that they stood together with some promoters for a Muay Thai boxinf event, and those promoters were nervously looking around. It seemed they worked together.

Police of course never showed up, the gang disappeared in a side street, when we left the restaurant. It shows that Thai authorities have zero interest in fighting wildlife trafficiing and exploitation. The only thing these officers want is bribes. And a coup, or any military rule, will not change anything - it may even make things worst, since there is even less enforcement of any law with the power struggle in the capital still going on.

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