Home International The end for Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple

The end for Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple

195
0

The monks at the Tiger Temple were given their first tiger in 1999 by local villagers, an abandoned and sickly cub who died soon after.

Kanchanaburi (Thailand), June 6, 2016: - The Tiger Temple was founded in 1994 as just another monastery. The monks at the temple had started life simply enough, offering the grounds as a sanctuary for a few indigenous wild animals – a fairly common occurrence with rural monasteries.

According to the Tiger Temple website, the monks were then given their first tiger in 1999 by local villagers, an abandoned and sickly cub who died soon after. By 2001, another seven tigers were at the temple, also rescues. But by 2016, they numbered at nearly 150.

This week, as evidence of illegal trafficking continued to emerge from the Tiger Temple and allegations were made against the upper management and abbot, Phra Sutthi Sarathera, a massive raid was conducted by wildlife officials to relocate all the tigers.

Removing and relocating the 137 tigers from the temple in a week was an enormous task involving hundreds of wildlife officers. The goal was to remove around 20 per day when the heat wasn’t as severe.

The staff and volunteer caretakers who had dedicated their work to improving the welfare of temple tigers feel what progress they had made has been halted by the raid, and are deeply concerned about the fate of the tigers – both during the traumatic removal process and in the new facilities.

Tanya Erzinclioglu, a volunteer caretaker at the temple since 2010, stated: “It concerns me greatly that … everyone will forget about it and no one will actually follow through to see what actually happens with the tigers.”

Tanya, a head volunteer caretaker at the temple since 2010, in an outdoor enclosure with Payak the tiger during the daily care and cleaning routine prior to the raid.
Tanya, a head volunteer caretaker at the temple since 2010, in an outdoor enclosure with Payak the tiger during the daily care and cleaning routine prior to the raid.

 

Monks eat breakfast in the temple portion of the Tiger Temple grounds. The Tiger Temple was founded in 1994 as just another monastery.
Monks eat breakfast in the temple portion of the Tiger Temple grounds. The Tiger Temple was founded in 1994 as just another monastery.

 

Tourists pose with tigers for photos. With an entrance fee of anything from 600 baht [$17] to 5,000 baht [$140] per person, millions of dollars have flowed into the temple over the years.
Tourists pose with tigers for photos. With an entrance fee of anything from 600 baht [$17] to 5,000 baht [$140] per person, millions of dollars have flowed into the temple over the years.
Fake tiger teeth necklaces were available for sale to tourists at the 'Tiger Canyon' portion of the grounds. Due to illegal trafficking accusations among other controversies, the tigers are being removed from the temple and relocated to a government-run DNP facility.
Fake tiger teeth necklaces were available for sale to tourists at the ‘Tiger Canyon’ portion of the grounds. Due to illegal trafficking accusations among other controversies, the tigers are being removed from the temple and relocated to a government-run DNP facility.

 

A volunteer tiger handler with one of the tigers in an outdoor enclosure. The caretakers say they are deeply concerned about the fate of the tigers - both during the traumatic removal process and in the new facilities.
A volunteer tiger handler with one of the tigers in an outdoor enclosure. The caretakers say they are deeply concerned about the fate of the tigers – both during the traumatic removal process and in the new facilities.

 

Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation [DNP] officers surround the entrance of the Tiger Temple grounds as they await for a court order to enter the grounds and remove the tigers.
Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation [DNP] officers surround the entrance of the Tiger Temple grounds as they await for a court order to enter the grounds and remove the tigers.
DNP officers move tiger cub specimens in jars of formaldehyde for the media to see. Each jar was labelled with the cause of death and dates of each cub from years past. Cubs have a high rate of infant mortality in both captivity and the wild.
DNP officers move tiger cub specimens in jars of formaldehyde for the media to see. Each jar was labelled with the cause of death and dates of each cub from years past. Cubs have a high rate of infant mortality in both captivity and the wild.

 

The DNP deputy general addresses the monks before the tigers' removal from the temple begins.
The DNP deputy general addresses the monks before the tigers’ removal from the temple begins.

 

DNP prepares tranquilliser guns to sedate the tigers before removing them from the temple.
DNP prepares tranquilliser guns to sedate the tigers before removing them from the temple.

 

DNP officials present evidence confiscated from the temple grounds and monk quarters in a press conference.
DNP officials present evidence confiscated from the temple grounds and monk quarters in a press conference.

 

DNP veterinarians monitor tranquillised tigers and clip their nails before loading them into the trucks.
DNP veterinarians monitor tranquillised tigers and clip their nails before loading them into the trucks.

 

DNP veterinarians close the cage doors before the trucks leave the temple.
DNP veterinarians close the cage doors before the trucks leave the temple.
The tigers were removed from the temple, 20 per day, on trucks.
The tigers were removed from the temple, 20 per day, on trucks.

By Amanda Mustard