Buddhist Temple Raided: ‘Mayhem’ As Authorities Remove Tigers From Monastery Where Monks Illegally Bred And Trafficked Animals

Thai authorities have raided a Buddhist temple to remove some 137 tigers after accusations that monks illegally had bred and trafficked the animals.

At least three tigers were sedated and relocated in an operation that monopolized more than 1,000 state personnel on Monday morning, and three more were removed Tuesday, as reported by the India TV News.

It is alleged monks were illegally breeding and trafficking the wild animals, and many tourists said the tigers appeared drugged.
The 137 tigers should me moved to a state-owned sanctuary this week. [AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File]
The Tiger Temple, as it’s become known to the many tourists visiting Thailand every year, claims to be a wildlife sanctuary but has made headlines recently. Indeed earlier this year, Netflix documentary The Tiger and the Monk sparked questions from wildlife experts and activists, who started investigating Tiger Town, as The Inquisitr reported.

Shortly afterwards, the Buddhist temple was exposed as a nexus for trafficking and illegal breeding, where female tigers and cubs were separated, males were sedated, and some tigers were put down.

Buddhist Temple Raided

The temple, located in the Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok, has become a popular tourist attraction over the years for visitors who want to get close to the wild animals and snap selfies with the tigers.

Some claimed the big cats appeared drugged and sedated, which could be the only way monks found to leave them to roam freely along with men.

A warrant was finally obtained for authorities to remove the animals after many failed attempts from the police to get the temple to cooperate. The endangered animals should be moved to a state-owned sanctuary.

Although Thailand passed wildlife conservation laws in 2015 to curb animal abuse, the legislation is still badly implemented. Authorities only managed to remove three tigers Monday and were back on Tuesday morning to continue the operation, which was initially scheduled to last a week but could take longer if the monks refuse to cooperate.

The 137 tigers should all be removed from the Tiger Temple this week.
Thai authorities sedated three tigers Monday in order to safely remove them from their enclosures at the Buddhist monastery. [AP Photo]
Allegedly, some of the tigers had been fed and set free ahead of the authorities’ arrival to make their work harder and further delay the process.

The Wildlife Conservation Office (WCO) director, Teunjai Noochdumrong, told CNN the first day had been much harder than expected.

“Yesterday was mayhem,” he said. “When our vet team arrived, there were tigers roaming around everywhere. Looks like the temple intentionally let these tigers out, trying to obstruct our work.”

The temple had reached an agreement with the WCO in 2001 to take care of the animals – as long as they weren’t using them for profit or breeding them. But it became clear the monks allowed the tigers to breed illegally and that many of them suffered diseases.

Although a Buddhist monastery being raided is not an everyday sight, it had been years in the making. Former workers and animal welfare groups began accusing the Tiger Temple of animal abuse years ago.

Edwin Wiek, Founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, and the first wildlife hospital in Thailand, has been documenting the authorities operation on Twitter:

The operation will continue Tuesday and throughout the week, with all tigers hopefully removed and safely rescued in a sanctuary by next week.

[AP Photo]

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