A Thai Buddhist temple that also doubles as a tourist destination, accused of wildlife trafficking violation, has lost three tigers in a bust headed by Thai wildlife authorities.
Guns loaded with tranquilizers were used to calm down the three tigers before they were carried on stretchers and transferred to a government-owned shelter.
Authorities promised to return and get remaining over 100 tigers. The bust was a response to international pressure against wildlife trafficking. The temple is allegedly involved in illegal tiger trade and animal abuse.
The 1000-strong personnel are from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. They successfully extracted the tigers after they have acquired a court order.
The temple, known as "Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua" or Tiger Temple, is located in the Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok. The place is frequented by international and local tourists who take pictures with them interacting with the tigers. Guests are even encouraged to bottle-feed the baby tigers or cubs.
Past guests claim that some of the animals appear to be drugged. Wildlife activists have accused the temple monks of illegally breeding the big cats. The Tiger Temple denies all accusations, even claiming to be a wildlife sanctuary.
The temple has been in battle with the authorities since 2001. The temple leaders have even blocked earlier government inspections. The government wants the tigers to be under state control. During the first two months of 2016, Thai government has been able to extract 10 tigers.
Thailand has long been plagued by cases of wildlife and forest products trafficking. Native birds, reptiles and mammals, some endangered, are openly sold in public markets.
This caught the attention of the international eye. In response to the pressure, Thailand introduced laws on animal welfare. Activists charge the law as one that is not well implemented.