Wildlife officials in Kanchanaburi province of Thailand, armed with a court order, have undertaken a treacherous process of moving 137 tigers from a controversial Buddhist temple which draws tourists as a petting zoo, but stands accused of selling off the big cats for slaughter.
A tiger in an enclosure at the temple before being taken to a government animal refuge. Pic/AFP
The director of Thailand’s Wildlife Conservation Office, Teunjai Noochdumrong, said three tigers were tranquilised and transported on Monday in an operation involving about 1,000 state personnel that is expected to continue for a week. The animals will be taken to three government animal refuges elsewhere in Thailand.
The Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Tiger Temple, a popular money-earning tourist attraction, has been criticised by animal rights activists because of allegations that it is not properly set up to care for the animals and flouted regulations restricting their trade.
The monks relented after police obtained a court order. More than 300 officials remained at the temple overnight to ensure the tigers remained safe.