Bangkok: Thai authorities uncovered a trove of animal parts and intercepted a monk trying to leave a controversial “tiger temple” with skins and fangs yesterday, the latest discovery to fuel accusations that the zoo is involved in the illegal wildlife trade.

Also read: 137 big cats moved from Thai Tiger Temple

A Thai DNP officer holding the carcass of a cub found frozen at the Tiger Temple
A Thai DNP officer holding the carcass of a cub found frozen at the Tiger Temple. Pic/AFP

Dozens of police and park officials have been stationed at the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua temple in western Kanchanaburi province since Monday after receiving a court order to remove over 100 adult cats from the complex.

For decades the infamous temple has been a popular stop for tourists who pay a steep fee to pet and be photographed with the predators — which animal rights groups say are heavily sedated. “Today we found tigers skins and amulets in a car which was trying to leave the temple,” said Adisorn Noochdumrong, the deputy director of Thailand’s parks department.

In addition to more skins that were later found in monks’ quarters, officials discovered a live lion, hornbill, sun bear and banteng (an endangered species of wild cattle) inside the temple compound. They also uncovered around 20 jars of preserved tiger parts containing “both whole bodies and organs to be used for medicines,” Adisorn said.

The discovery comes after authorities found dozens of dead tiger cubs inside a freezer at the temple on Wednesday. Animals rights groups and conservationists have long accused the temple of secretly acting as a tiger farm and making huge profits by selling animals and tiger parts on the black market for use in Chinese medicine.