WILDLIFE authorities carrying out the relocation operation at Thailand’s ‘Tiger Temple’ have made a grim discovery – at least 40 dead tiger cubs were uncovered in a freezer in the temple’s kitchen, along with a dead boar and numerous animal products.
The temple in Kanchanaburi has been closed to the public, and its 137 tigers seized amid allegations of illegal breeding and trafficking.
Authorities are well into their third day of the operation to relocate the tigers to state-owned breeding facilities in Ratchaburi province, and are hoping to be finished by Friday.
The first photograph of the dead cubs surfaced when Bangkok-based photojournalist Dario Pignatelli posted it on his Twitter account, sparking outrage across the internet.
— Dario Pignatelli (@dariopignatelli) June 1, 2016
Adisorn Nuchdamrong of Thailand’s Department of National Parks told Reuters, published by the BBC, that the cub bodies are probably of value to the temple administration, “but for what is beyond me”.
Khaosod English reports that if it is discovered the tiger cubs were killed recently, it would support accusations launched against the temple that it is knowingly involved in illegal breeding and trafficking of the tigers.
Officials also found a dead boar, animal intestines in containers, and a number of deer horns in the freezers where the cubs were kept.
— L'EDICOLA (@edicolaRT) June 1, 2016
Yanyong Lekavichit, head of Protected Area Regional Office 3, told Khaosod English: “This is abnormal. We will find out who’s responsible for the cubs.”
He added that the dead cubs were found in the same freezer where frozen chickens for the tigers’ food were kept.
The operation, which involves about 1,000 officials, is set to continue throughout the week. Authorities have been struggling to resolve the scandals surrounding the temple for years, deadlocked by the aggressively uncooperative monks who vehemently deny, even now, any misconduct.