PHUKET: Social media networks are abuzz today after R’n’B celebrity Rihanna posted photos on Instagram showing herself posing on Phuket’s Soi Bangla in Patong last night.
The photos show the stylish superstar feeding elephants, being welcomed to her Phuket resort and posing in front of stageshow ladyboys, called katoey in Thai, dressed in elaborate costumes (see here
One photo, posted with the tag “Look who was talkin dirty to me!” shows Rihanna posing with a slow loris perched on her shoulder (see here
The photos are posted under the user name Badgirlriri (see here
), Rihanna’s online moniker, and links to her online fashion brand Rihanna for River Island website (see here
The photo of the international songstress with the slow loris, however, was soon called into question.
Nicole Matier posted, “This is a slow loris. They are easy targets to trap and keep in chains. Please don’t support animal abuse in Thailand. When I volunteered in Thailand, these were another animal we worked on rescuing from the streets.”
User “rensta86” added, “You’re right, these animals are extremely endangered and abused in many south east Asian countries... Riana [sic] should delete this picture quickly!!”
The unabated use of slow loris by touts on Soi Bangla who offer them to tourists for photo-taking prompted officials earlier this year to launch a campaign against the pay-for-posing souvenir photos (story here
However, despite repeated threats of crackdowns by officials, Phuket Gazette readers frequently write in claiming to have seen touts toting the small protected creatures through the bustling nightlife.
Slow lorises are listed in Appendix II (animals strictly measured and monitored to ensure their numbers do not decline) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). They are also protected by the Thailand Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act BE 2535.
The possession of a protected species without a permit carries a penalty of up to 40,000 baht or up to four years imprisonment, or both.