Category: buddhism


Dozens more dead cubs have been found at Thailand’s controversial Tiger Temple, this time in jars containing liquid, as authorities continue their raid on the tourist attraction.

The exact number of cubs found varies. The Bangkok Post reports that 30 cubs were discovered, whereas wildlife charities put the number at 50.

This find follows Wednesday’s discovery of 40 tiger cub carcasses, which were found in a freezer at the Buddhist temple, located in the Kanchanaburi province.

Wildlife officials are continuing with their raid on the temple as they remove tigers from the facility in a move to bring the animals under state control.

On Thursday police caught a monk trying to flee the temple in a truck carrying animal skins and teeth.

Hundreds of amulets containing tiger body parts, including a range of skins and fangs, were found in the vehicle.

A post on Tiger Temple’s Facebook page reads: “The recent discovery of the tiger skins and necklaces comes as a shock to us as well as the rest of the world. We are disgusted at this discovery and we don’t condone this.

“We are looking forward to the authorities bringing the culprits to justice.”

Charity Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) says that there are concerns as to the whereabouts of 20 live tiger cubs who are missing from the Tiger Temple.

The temple denies allegations that they have sold the cubs.

Tiger Temple promotes itself as a wildlife sanctuary, but in recent years it has been investigated for suspected links to wildlife trafficking and animal abuse.

Wildlife charities and animal welfare groups have been condemning the facility for years, as the temple grew in popularity with tourists wanting to have their photos taken with tigers.

A raid that began on Monday is the latest move in a tug-of-war since 2001 to bring the tigers under state control.

Officials were not sure why the temple kept the cubs in the freezer.

“They must be of some value for the temple to keep them,” said Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks.

“But for what is beyond me.”

More than 130 tigers were kept at the temple.

Thailand has long been a hub for the illicit trafficking of wildlife and forest products, including ivory.

And exotic birds, mammals and reptiles, some of them endangered species, can often be found on sale in markets.

WFFT, a charity that has been working with Thai authorities and other NGOs to remove the tigers, said in a Facebook post on Thursday that staff at Tiger Temple have been dismissed, raising concerns about who will look after the animals.

The post read:  “The abbot of the temple has fired all his staff, meaning there is now no longer Tiger Temple staff on site to take care of all the other animals, including domestic cattle, buffalo, deer and wild pigs.

“The WFFT along with Thai Animal Guardians Association are in talks with the authorities on how we can handle this situation and ensure that all the animals are cared for properly. What will the coming days bring.”

On Tuesday, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group said the temple was “hell for animals” and called on tourists to stop visiting animal attractions at home and abroad.

The raids follow the controversial shooting of a gorilla at a Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday. The critically-endangered animal was killed after a child fell into its enclosure.

World Animal Protection said: “The cruelty towards tigers at the temple, and the latest scenes of dead cubs, is extremely disturbing.

“It’s clear that the welfare of the tigers is not a priority and their lives are full of abuse and commercial exploitation for the entertainment of tourists.”

The animal protection group commended authorities for taking action against the temple, but further urged the government to investigate how the cubs died, and to find an “appropriate safe environment” for the tigers it had already recused to spend the remainder of their lives. 

Source: Tiger Temple Raid Reveals Dead Tiger Cubs In Jars Of Liquid At Controversial Tourist Attraction In Thailand

“We built this temple to spread Buddhism,” said Supitpong Pakdjarung, a former police colonel who runs the temple’s business arm. “The tigers came by themselves.”

SAI YOK, Thailand — Saira Tahir, a London lawyer, waved a bamboo pole with a plastic bag affixed to the end high in the air. A 200-pound tiger leapt and swatted it like a house cat batting a string toy.

For her $140 premium admission, Ms. Tahir also bathed a tiger, bottle-fed a cub and posed for a photo with a tiger’s head in her lap.

“It’s a surreal experience being so close to them,” she said. “Even with the tiger’s head in your lap, you can feel the energy. It’s not something you do every day.”

Part Buddhist monastery and part petting zoo, the Tiger Temple in western Thailand has long been the bane of conservationists and animal rights activists who accuse it of abuse and exploitation even as it offers tourists an Edenesque wildlife fantasy.

Now, after complaints of trafficking in endangered species, the government is trying to shut down the attraction. But there are two major obstacles: the temple, which has gone to court to block the closing, and the tigers. What do you do with nearly 150 carnivorous cats raised in captivity?

The government began removing the tigers this year but was ordered to stop after the lawsuit was filed in February. Until the case is resolved, the fate of the tigers is mired in a legal standoff that pits wildlife officials, conservationists and Thailand’s military government against a wealthy tourist enterprise backed by influential Buddhist monks.

The Tiger Temple, in rural Kanchanaburi Province near the Myanmar border, started collecting animals 15 years ago with an act of charity. Villagers took an injured tiger cub to the local abbot, who agreed to care for it. Word spread, and soon there were six tigers.

 The tourists came next. Today, the temple takes in $5.7 million a year from ticket sales, wildlife officials say, and receives millions more in donations. A standard ticket, about $17, entitles a visitor to walk a leashed tiger and pose with a chained tiger.

The 15 or so monks who live on the grounds have little to do with the tigers beyond occasionally posing with them for tourists. But a Buddhist atmosphere is part of the pitch. The temple promotes itself as a place where tigers betray their wild nature to coexist with humans in Buddhist harmony.

“We can live together peacefully because of kindness,” Mr. Supitpong said.

Some monks and staff members believe that certain tigers are reincarnated monks or relatives. Mr. Supitpong said that through meditation, monks had come up with dietary solutions to repair genetic defects from inbreeding.

“It is a spiritual connection,” he said.

The Buddhist imprimatur also makes the temple a powerful adversary in its legal battle with the government. In Thailand, the moral authority of monks rivals the secular authority of the law.

“They have the power to say right or wrong in terms of morality,” said Surapot Taweesak, a scholar in philosophy and religion at Suan Dusit Rajabhat University in Bangkok. “This makes people listen and not dare to argue or debate with monks for fear of being sinful.”

The government has ordered the temple to stop breeding tigers, charging fees to tourists and letting visitors feed tigers, officials say, but the temple has refused.

“The monks have the attitude, ‘I am over the law,’ ” said Teunchai Noochdumrong, the director of Thailand’s Wildlife Conservation Office. “They say because they are monks, they have the right to take care of all the animals in that area.”

The abbot, Phra Vissuthisaradhera, is “not a monk,” Ms. Teunchai said. “He’s a criminal.”

Mr. Vissuthisaradhera, who was attacked and clawed on the face last year by his favorite tiger, declined to be interviewed.

For years, the temple has faced allegations of misconduct. Recently, a handler was caught on video punching a tiger in the head.

Mr. Supitpong acknowledges that staff members sometimes have to strike the tigers to distract them from focusing on tourists as prey. “We have to hit them so we can change the tiger’s mood at the moment,” he said.

Charges of tiger smuggling date to at least 2008, when the British group Care for the Wild said the temple was illegally trading tigers with a farm in neighboring Laos.

Last year, the temple’s veterinarian resigned and reported that three tigers had vanished from the temple. He handed over three microchips that he said had been removed from the tigers; such chips are used to track endangered animals.

An Australian organization, Cee4life, claims that 281 tigers have been born at the temple over the years and that natural deaths alone could not account for today’s population, which stands at 138, not counting the 10 already removed by the government. The organization also presented evidence that some of the temple’s first tigers had been caught in the wild and that others had been brought later from Laos.

Source: Thai Officials Battle Buddhist Monks Over Tigers’ Fate – The New York Times

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