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Phuket: Inspectors find all is well at tiger temple

Phuket: Inspectors find all is well at tiger temple

Wildlife officials have found no evidence of trade in tigers at Wat Pa Luangta Maha Bua in Kanchanaburi, which has been allowed to take care of the rare species even though possession is illegal. 

By Bangkok Post

Friday 13 February 2015, 09:53AM

Nothing unusual has been found with the caring of tigers at the tiger temple.

Nothing unusual has been found with the caring of tigers at the tiger temple.

The temple, which is famous with tourists for its tiger "zoo", is under the spotlight again after complaints were made to the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).

However, officials who inspected the temple yesterday (February 12) found nothing unusual in arrangements for caring for the tigers, though they did confiscate a few other species they found there.

"The number of tiger cubs has increased recently," said Cherdchai Jariyapanya, chief of the DNP's Protected Area Regional Office 3 said. In total, there are 143 tigers. There were 97 at the previous inspection.

All of them belong to the nation, Mr Cherdchai said. 

The DNP attempted to confiscate seven tigers in 2001 after finding them at the temple. However, it changed its mind and allowed them to stay after the temple assured they were well looked after.

Officials yesterday stepped up measures to keep track of the tigers at the temple and began to prepare a new home for them in case they need to be moved.

The DNP is in the process of tagging each tiger with a microchip to help them monitor the animals. Veterinarians were also asked to check the tigers' health.

PKF Thailand

Their findings will be a factor in deciding whether the temple can continue taking care of the tigers or if they must be moved, Mr Cherdchai said.

The department has prepared two other places for them in Ratchaburi should they have to be relocated, he said.

The animals' living conditions at the temple are not a concern, but keeping the animals is expensive. The caretaker spends B100,000 a day just on feeding them.

Former DNP chief Damrong Pidech said he was impressed by what he saw at an inspection of the temple in 2012, saying the tigers' living conditions are even better than those at some state zoos.

Mr Damrong suggested the temple work with the DNP to control the tiger population at the temple, following the rapid increase.

However, wildlife officials seized 35 hornbills, three pheasants and a hedgehog from the temple after receiving complaints it has been housing many other protected animals. The animals have been relocated to a wildlife breeding and research centre at Khao Prathap Chan in Ratchaburi.

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