Authorities remove tigers from accused Thailand temple

31 May 2016 | Written by Ramya ; Edited by Gaurav
End of the Tiger Temple

Thailand's wildlife authorities started removing tigers from the popular 'Tiger Temple' after it was accused of animal abuse and wildlife trafficking.

Three out of the 137 tigers at the Buddhist temple in Kanchanaburi province were already taken to animal refuges; the operation would reportedly last all week.

The Buddhist monks initially denied allegations but, later gave in after being presented with the court's order.

In context: End of the Tiger Temple

Introduction About the Tiger Temple in Thailand

Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno or Tiger Temple is a Theravada Buddhist temple in Thailand.

In 1994, it was founded as a forest temple and a wild animal sanctuary; it is home to several tigers especially Indo-chinese species.

With tigers as the main attraction, the temple evolved as a popular tourist spot; as of Jan'16, there were over 150 tigers at the temple.

2008 Temple accused of tiger exchange and illegal breeding

In 2008, 'Care for the Wild International', an animal rights NGO claimed that the Tiger Temple was involved in exchange of tigers with a Laos-based tiger farm owner.

The NGO had gathered the information on the same during 2005-08.

The organization said that the temple acted as a tiger-breeding facility without a license required by the 'Thai Wild Animals Reservation and Protection Act, 1992'.

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Releasing tigers being delayed continuously

Unsuccessful AttemptsReleasing tigers being delayed continuously

Wildlife Friends of Thailand said that the temple violated the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an international wildlife treaty that banned commercial breeding of protected wild creatures.

Several unsuccessful attempts were made by concerned authorities to remove the tigers from the temple.

Edwin Wiek–Founder of Wildlife Friends of Thailand, said that the "abbot (monk head) had been delaying this again and again."

Tiger CoalitionImmediate action against temple requested

A coalition of over 40 wildlife conservation organizations–'The International Tiger Coalition' wrote to the National Parks of Thailand.

The coalition urged the director general to take immediate action against the temple over the exchange of tigers and also the inappropriate facilities for tigers.

The coalition included the Humane Society International, World Wide Fund for Nature, World Animal Protection, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, etc.

Investigation Officials raid the Tiger Temple

Forest officials raided the temple with a police force, warrant and soldiers to carry out a formal investigation at the temple.

There were accusations of animal mistreatment, tiger exchange, breeding and lack of proper facilities.

Later, allegations of mistreating animals were cleared, but charges against the temple were pressed for possession of protected birds, jackals, Asian bears, hornbills and other animals without permits.

31 May 2016Authorities remove tigers from accused Thailand temple

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1 Jun 201640 dead tiger cubs found in temple freezer

Forty dead tiger cubs were found by authorities in the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi in Thailand.

Thai authorities said wildlife officials would file new criminal charges after the discovery, and added that the cubs were just one or two days old when they died.

Officials suspected that the dead cubs were used in making traditional medicines and blams by the monks.

2 Jun 2016Authorities to press charges against Tiger Temple

Wildlife authorities in Thailand said they would press charges against the Tiger Temple its officials for wildlife related offences.

The announcement was made after the discovery of 40 dead tiger cubs in freezers in the temple.

The Temple has been accused of wildlife trafficking, animal abuse and illegal possession of endangered species.

Several of the 137 captive tigers have already been relocated.

3 Jun 2016More gruesome discoveries at Tiger Temple

Thai officials apprehended a monk attempting to flee with tiger skins and fangs from the Tiger Temple.

As the investigation into the temple progressed, authorities also found a lion, a sunbear, a hornbill and a banteng - all protected species - from the temple.

Authorities also uncovered around 20 jars of preserved tiger parts containing "both whole bodies and organs of tigers."

5 Jun 2016Officials say Tiger Temple operation complete

Thai wildlife officials stated that the effort to relocate almost 140 tigers from the Tiger Temple has been successfully completed.

Adisorn Nuchdamrong, spokesperson for the Department of National Parks said 22 people had been charged with wildlife possession and trafficking.

Officials said that the police are now investigating CCTV footage from the temple in an attempt to identify and take action against violators.

8 Jun 2016Thai authorities ban entry to tiger temple

Stating that the structure was built illegally, Thai authorities barred entry for visitors to the infamous Tiger Temple.

Kanchanapuri district's chief land reform officer Watcharin Wakamanon put up a sign in front of the temple which said the plot belonged to the Land Reform Office and would be used by farmers.

Authorities also seized 4 live tigers from a house nearby.

10 Jun 2016Thai authorities begin investigating temple earnings

Thai authorities stated that they have gathered enough evidence to prove that the abott of the temple was involved in the illicit animal trade.

The abott was reportedly on bed rest after suffering an 'acute heart attack', but was seen playing golf in the temple premises.

Officials have asked investigators to trace the Buddhist monastery cum Tiger zoo's alleged $3 million plus annual earnings.