Forty frozen dead baby tigers, a baby bear and a baby binturong, all under a week old, were discovered in a freezer room at the infamous Tiger Temple on the third day of a raid led by the Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) to confiscate all 147 tigers at the temple. As the 300 strong man team of DNP officials and veterinarians worked to skillfully remove the remaining 95 tigers, officials stormed the room following a tip off from Temple staff.
Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the DNP told Reuters news agency that the dead cubs “must be of some value for the temple. ..But for what is beyond me.”
Speculation made by concerned activists about the reason why these dead infant cubs were kept in the freezer include illegal wildlife trafficking. Considering they are small and easily transportable and that each baby tiger carcass can fetch up to 40,000 THB (1,200 USD) . It could be a lucrative way to further exploit these tigers.
Even worse if one considers the possibility that the tigers have been used as breeding machines to produce young offspring specifically targeted for sale.
This discovery confirms what wildlife activists have believed for a very long time; that the monks have never truly cared for the tigers as many have been led to believe. That these magnificent creatures have merely served as a commodity to line deep and already full pockets.
The question then remains is; if these tiger babies were killed, just how many others have gone before them in the past? The discovery of these dead baby tigers could well be the tip of the iceberg as authorities seek to uncover the cause of death of these innocent creatures.
The Tiger Temple is currently closed to safeguard the public after the several tigers were deliberately set loose by the Temple’s handlers on the temple’s Canyon ground to hamper the rescue efforts by the DNP.
Several of the tigers, now contained, had resorted to killing live boar for food. Possibly the first time these animals have tasted fresh kill after having been on a lifelong diet of cooked chicken meat.
Such irresponsible actions by the Temple staff illustrate their flagrant defiance of the law and may be seen to be a last desperate attempt to the hide the possible truth that such a practice may have indeed gone on at the Temple for more than ten years. This behavior if true, would contradict every Buddhist code of conduct which is based on nonharming and nonviolence.
If the authorities find the temple guilty of illegally selling tiger parts to the black market, it would put the final nail in the coffin to shut the Tiger Temple down for good.
Hope for the Tigers
Meanwhile, hope remains high for the safe and successful transport of the tigers to temporary government holding facilities until what is hoped to be a longer term solution of building a true sanctuary for these magnificent beasts comes to fruition.
The DNP has been fighting to shut down the temple for many years but have been continually hampered by the monumental and complex nature of the task as well as resistance from the temple’s abbot and his followers ranging from tactics such as suing the authorities, demanding a ransom of four million to compensation and inciting a mini riot on the grounds when authorities seized illegal wildlife from the facility a years ago.
One can only hope that while sad and shocking, these cubs did not die in vain . They could very well be the irrefutable evidence to shut down this potential wildlife abattoir down forever.
Image source: Flickr