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Probe into trafficking after dead tiger cubs found in temple freezer

Jun 08. 2016
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By THE NATION

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WILDLIFE officials yesterday claim to have found 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer in Kanchanaburi’s Tiger Temple, where 137 tigers were removed earlier. Authorities are now working to prove if there’s any connection between the two events.
The dead cubs were frozen together with a number of other dead animals including a binturong – a protected species also known as a bearcat – as well as chicken meat for feeding live tigers. Officials from the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department allegedly found the dead animals while they were searching Wat Pa Luangta Maha Bua Yannasam-panno, more widely known as the Tiger Temple.
They said temple staff told them they had kept some dead tiger cubs, the binturong and some tigers’ organs as well as of other animals. The officials later questioned staff to find out whether the cub carcasses had any connection with the temple’s live removed tigers, according to deputy director Adisorn Noochdumrong, deputy director of the wildlife department. 
It remained unclear why the temple had to keep the carcasses and the legal division of the wildlife department would examine whether the authorities could take any action on the matter, according to Adisorn.
Meanwhile, WWF has commended the Thai authorities for taking definitive action to permanently remove the tigers from the temple to facilities in Ratchaburi.
“WWF was dismayed last month when the Tiger Temple was granted an official zoo permit by the wildlife department. This was despite longstanding allegations and ample evidence that the Tiger Temple was trafficking tigers into the illegal wildlife trade.
“This week’s actions to remove the tigers from the Tiger Temple are long overdue and we strongly encourage authorities to make the removal of the tigers permanent,” said Yowalak Thiarachow, country director, WWF-Thailand.
In addition to the Tiger Temple, other facilities with captive tigers should also be investigated to ensure tigers don’t fall prey to illegal wildlife trafficking and abuse, the WWF said. Facilities found in violation of international and national wildlife laws must be prohibited from acquiring, owning and breeding tigers, it said.

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