Rihanna’s Selfie Accidentally Alerts Authorities to Wildlife Smugglers

TakePart.com

While vacationing on the island of Phuket this weekend, pop star Rihanna enjoyed her usual activities: She partied hard, hung out on the beach, and Instagrammed a ton of selfies, including the one above, showing her cuddling with a slow loris. 

She then tweeted the picture's link to her many followers:

Look who was talkin dirty to me! #Thailand #nightlife http://t.co/V0fT4PfSrQ

— Rihanna (@rihanna) September 20, 2013

The slow loris, native to Southeast Asia, is an endangered species, struggling to survive due largely to the illegal wildlife trade—the very one that made the picture above possible. 

The Huffington Post reports that after Phuket law enforcement was alerted to the photo, they used it to track down the vendors responsible.

The two apphrehended vendors, a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, face possible charges related to the possession of a protected species, which carries a penalty of up to four years in prison and the equivalent of a $1300 fine. 

Illegal wildlife photo ops are a booming business worldwide. Often these animals are taken from their mothers at a very young age and kept in deplorable conditions. Subdued with drugs and surgery to make them safer for tourists to handle, vendors claim that the photo business simply pays for the animals' care—but often that's not the case.

When the animals become too old to be profitable, they're frequently put down or sold to circuses and low-end zoos. 

Though Rihanna's own photo op with a slow loris eventually led to a positive outcome, the only way to keep smugglers from making money off of wildlife is obviously to avoid patronizing them entirely. 

Original article from TakePart

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