Tiger temple under investigation as Thai authorities clamp down on captive tigers
A Tiger confiscated from a private apartment in outskirts of Bangkok as part of a series of raids and spot checks conducted by Thailand’s Wildlife Enforcement Network
Tiger Temple under investigation
September 2012. Thai authorities have swooped in on captive tiger owners in two locations to see if laws had been broken, resulting in one arrest in one case and a confrontation that could lead to further action or lawsuits in another. Both actions demonstrate the serious challenges facing Thai authorities in dealing with the country's large captive tiger population.
Four tigers confiscated
In Pathumthani, two adult tigers and two tiger cubs were confiscated in a raid on a private apartment. Thai Nature Crime Police conducted the raid after intelligence showed that the owners were involved in the illegal wildlife trade. The tigers were sent to a government care center.
The temple is already mired in controversy after the Sun newspaper published a video showing the abuse that goes on at the temple, and how the tigers are baited and treated for the ‘benefit' of tourists.
The temple, a popular tourist destination, has seen its tiger population grown from 7 to 100 in the past eight years, raising questions about the sustainability of the temple's tiger management, and where the tigers are being sourced.
Responding to this latest media coverage the Chief Executive of Care for the Wild International, Philip Mansbridge, said: "As we recently highlighted in the launch of our new RIGHT-tourism.org campaign, the Tiger Temple is just one of thousands of examples of how wildlife is threatened and abused around the world to provide so called entertainment for tourists. The Tiger Temple like many other animal attractions claims that it is a wildlife sanctuary, when in fact the animals in its care are subject to appalling conditions, inappropriate food, no real veterinary care and regular abuse to generate money from tourists.
"Thai authorities are doing the right thing to check captive tiger facilities, because captive tigers are being found in the illegal trade that goes through this country," said Onkuri Majumdar, FREELAND Senior Officer.
More than 1000 tigers in captivity
The two incidents illustrate the growth of private tiger facilities in Thailand. The trend presents serious challenges to those concerned about animal welfare and the growth in the illegal wildlife trade. The current permitting system for tigers provides a loophole for traffickers to launder tigers by using their permits as cover. More than 880 tigers in 21 zoos are currently registered with DNP, but the actual number of tigers in private hands is believed to be much higher. While some facilities, such as the tiger temple, make their money from tourists, other operations holding 100 tigers or more have long been suspected to be breeding tigers for sale on the black market.
Image courtesy of FREELAND