Tiger temple in Thailand probed for suspected wildlife trafficking

04 Feb 2015 / 20:22 H.

    BANGKOK: Thai authorities were investigating a tiger temple for trafficking other endangered species, officials said Wednesday.
    Authorities found at least 38 birds of paradise at Dta Bua Forest Temple in Kanchanaburi Temple, 120 kilometres west of Bangkok, a representative of the Protected Area Regional Office said.
    Officials had received an anonymous tip-off the abbot had been purchasing endangered species for his private zoo.
    The abbot had denied officers entry to the religious site Tuesday, and had fled by the time they returned with a warrant the next day.
    Two Asiatic golden jackals previously spotted at the temple were missing, officials said.
    Conservation groups have also criticized the temple for keeping its nearly 100 tigers, which it offers tourists the chance to walk with and have their photos taken for a small fee.
    The temple has said keeping the endangered tigers is not illegal as they were rehabilitating the animals for release.
    But the groups say it keeps the tigers for profit and there was no evidence any have been rehabilitated to the wild.
    Officials at the Luang Dta Bua Temple did not return a request for comment.
    "I absolutely disagree with these tiger temples," said Edwin Wiek, head of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand which rehabilitates abused animals to the wild.
    "Tourists should realize that when they take a selfie with tiger or an elephant that a lot of animal cruelty is behind that picture." – dpa


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