Rihanna's photo with endangered loris gets two men arrested
Two men in Thailand are in trouble with the law thanks to an Instagram photo posted by pop star Rihanna during her recent visit to the holiday island of Phuket.
The English-language newspaper The Phuket News said the two "touts," as locals call those who charge tourists to pose with illegally obtained endangered species, were taken to Kathu Police Station after a raid that followed widespread reaction to Rihanna's Friday Instagram post, which had 220,000 "likes" by Saturday night.
"Look who was talkin dirty to me!" the singer jokingly captioned a self-taken picture of herself with a loris, a lemur-like primate native to tropical and woodland forests of India, Sri Lanka, and parts of Southeast Asia.
Several species of loris are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Awat Nithikul, an official with Khao Phra Taew Forest Preserve, told The Phuket News, "I had an order from the Phuket Governor to do a raid today after Rihanna posted a photo of her with the loris."
Several touts were arrested in June, the paper said, but the exploitation of endangered animals, centered on touristy Bangla Road, has proved resistant to law enforcement.
"It is very difficult to do the raids because the touts have spies," Nithikul said. "If someone hears that the police are coming their way, there will be a person who calls the touts and tells them to move. But this is a big deal because it might affect Thailand's reputation."
The two lorises will be returned to a national park in Phang Nga, the paper said.