WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT
Police and wildlife authorities have found 40 tiger cub bodies in a freezer at Thailand’s Tiger Temple.
Forty tiger cub bodies found in freezer at Thai Buddhist temple accused of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse https://t.co/M4sF5J3hTD
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 1, 2016
— Dario Pignatelli (@dariopignatelli) June 1, 2016
Forty dead tiger cubs were found at Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno, or Tiger Temple in a freezer in a kitchen area during a wildlife and police operation on Monday, Adisorn Nuchdamrong deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks said.
“They must be of some value for the temple to keep them, but for what is beyond me,” Nuchdamrong said.
“The temple never registered these dead cubs, they are illegal,” he added.
Dead tigers found in Thai temple amid trafficking fears https://t.co/a60gQo4hBo
— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) June 1, 2016
Edwin Wiek, head of the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand told DPA news agency: “The discovery of dead animals proves that Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yanasampanno has been engaged in illegal breeding and smuggling activities.
“Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species treaty, no wildlife farm or sanctuary can engage in the breeding of protected species.
“These animals were bred and hidden away. I believe that they were stored to be sold for parts on the black market.”
DISTURBING PICTURES: Wildlife officials at the temple
However, a Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno representative said that Thailand’s Wildlife Conservation Office had been notified of all of the cubs births and deaths and that the bodies were kept as proof that none of them were sold on the black market.
“We have declared all the deaths to the officials over years,” Supitpong Pakdjarung said, a former police colonel who runs Tiger Temple’s business operation.
“They’ve known about these carcasses for a long time,” he added.
In a Facebook post on March 4, the Tiger Temple said that it was normal for some cubs to die and that the staff had been preserving the carcasses since 2010.
The Buddhist temple in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok had become a tourist destination where visitors take pictures with bottle-fed cubs, but has closed since the raid.
Officials have moved 52 live tigers from the temple since Monday, but 85 still remain, Nuchdamrong said.