Friday, 3 June 2016

Thai police charge 22 with wildlife trafficking from tiger temple

Three monks among those charged as police remove more dead animals from tourist temple, including bear and leopard

Reuters in Kanchanaburi
Friday 3 June 201613.41 BSTLast modified on Friday 3 June 201613.47 BST

Thai police have charged 22 people, including three Buddhist monks, with wildlife trafficking and have removed more dead animals, including a bear and a leopard, from a Buddhist temple known as the tiger temple.

The temple in Kanchanaburi province, west of the capital, Bangkok, has been a major tourist attraction for more than two decades, with visitors paying 600 baht (£12) admission to pose for photographs with the tigers.

Wildlife activists have accused the temple of illegally breeding the tigers, while some visitors on online forums complained that the tigers appeared sedated. The temple denies the accusations.

Adisorn Nuchdamrong, from Thailand’s department of national parks, said 22 people had been charged with wildlife possession and trafficking, including 17 members of the temple’s foundation and three monks who were trying to flee with a truck full of tiger skins.

The seizure followed the grim discovery on Wednesday of the bodies of 40 tigers cubs inside a freezer. It remains unclear why the dead tiger cubs were being stored, although tiger bones and body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

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