Published on : Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Following a local court order, the wildlife officials raided the temple where tigers are kept, taking away three of the animals and vowing to confiscate scores more in response to global pressure over wildlife trafficking. The activists accused the temple’s monks of illegally breeding tigers, although the temple authorities completely denied the accusations.
Wildlife Conservation Office (WCO) director Teunjai Noochdumrong said that there were tigers roaming around everywhere in the temple and it seemed liked the temple intentionally let these tigers out to hamper the officials’ work.
The “Tiger Temple,” in Kanchanaburi Province west of Bangkok, has long been popular with tourists where one of the major attractions is these tigers with whom they pose to click. Thailand’s Wildlife Conservation Office (WCO) reported that all the 137 tigers are mistreated and pose great danger for the tourists.
The temple officials refused to let the staff from the WCO enter when they came to remove the tigers. After almost a half-day standoff, the wildlife officers were allowed inside and could sedate eight tigers.
The conservation office received a search warrant from a local court following failed negotiations with representatives from Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Temple, as the Tiger Temple is officially known. The temple says it is a sanctuary for wild animals.
Over 2,000 personnel, including WCO civil servants, veterinarians, provisional police and local military are actively involved in taking part in the mission to relocate the tigers to a compound in neighbouring Ratchburi Province.
The vice president of the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Temple Foundation said they are ready to comply to the court orders and rules however the relocation of the tigers would have a negative impact on the local economy. He also said there is nothing illegal and dangerous and the new rules will definitely bring a negative impact in the tourism industry. The temple also charged tourists to enter the compound and walk with the big cats; however Pakcharoong said the money was used to pay for the tigers’ care.
The government introduced new animal welfare laws in 2015 aimed at curbing animal abuse, but activists accuse authorities of not enforcing the legislation properly.