New Delhi :
The renowned Tiger temple in Thailand, popular among Indian and foreign tourists, has long been surrounded by many controversies. It was accused by animal rights activists of mistreating the tigers for commercial gain and even trafficking some of its animals for almost a decade. The Tiger temple in Thailand was founded in 1994 as a forest temple and sanctuary for wild animals.
In late May 2016, police and wildlife officials began an operation to remove all living tigers at Tiger Temple in Thailand. During the act, officials found over 40 tiger cub carcasses along with numerous body parts from other animals preserved in freezers.
Besides, some twelve living Hornbills were also confiscated as being possessed without license. The Tiger temple in Thailand was closed to the public at the beginning of the raid.
Recently, wildlife officials found 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer and Thailand may shut down its famed Tiger Temple amid allegations of illegal trafficking and ill-treatment of the animals by authorities at the Buddhist shrine. Moreover pictures posted on social media showed the 40 dead cubs lined up on the floor. The site has been closed for public since the raid.
Although monks at the tiger temple earlier refused to accept trafficking allegations but police and wildlife officials started an operation on Monday to relocate its 137 tigers, mostly Bengal tigers. The tiger temple in Thailand housed a total of 137 tigers.
In the first batch, more than 100 tigers will be taken away from the temple, said the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
The Wildlife department’s deputy director Adisorn Noochdumrong led the relocation operation on Monday armed with a search warrant from a provincial court. “We are trying to solve problems step by step,” he said. The department hopes to relocate all 137 tigers of the Tiger temple in Thailand in a week’s span.
Most of the tigers will be sent to the Khaoson and Khao Prathap Chang breeding centers in Ratchaburi province. However, due to the temple’s attitude, Adisorn admitted that the operation may take longer than seven days.
Furthermore the situation was quite stressful at the temple on Monday as officials and temple representatives met. Kasetsart University Faculty of Forestry lecturer Anak Pattanavibool said the authorities were right to relocate the tigers because the state was the animals’ rightful owner. “The procedure to keep the tigers at breeding centers is the best choice we can do, because these tigers were raised in captivity and cannot be returned to the wild. Furthermore, many of them are Bengal tigers, which are not native to Thailand,” Anak said.
“We cannot give them to a zoo or other countries because they are the government’s property, so the government has to keep them until they naturally die,” he said.
The popular Buddist temple also known as the Tiger temple at Kanchanaburi in Thailand has always promoted itself as a spiritual sanctuary where wild animals and humans can peacefully coexist. The visitors were charged to enter the compound of the temple and walk with the big cats. The tourists were also allowed to take selfies with tigers. However, Thai authorities have long been under pressure to stop the business in the wake of the complaints received by the animal rights activists.