Despite long profiting from marketing itself as a friend to big, wild cats, a Kanchanaburi “temple” has once again refused to answer a simple question: Where are the tigers?
Officials at the so-called Tiger Temple, where persistent rumors linger of involvement in trafficking, again refused to cooperate with wildlife and law enforcement authorities trying to get information about at least three tigers reported missing.
A combined team from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Convservation; police; soldiers and veterinarians said they’d return today with a court order after the temple refused to unlock doors and cages for them on Wednesday.
Authorities have sought answers on the whereabouts of the tigers, among nearly 150 kept at the temple, after one of its veterinarians went to authorities in December with his suspicions the temple had sold at least three of the big cats.
By February a raid was conducted on the temple at which time officials said the tigers would be removed from the facility, a claim later walked back. Several attempts to visit and count the tigers since then have failed.
The team deployed yesterday was reportedly acting on new complaints of misconduct by the temple, according to Thai PBS.
The three missing Bengal tigers are said to be between 3 and 7, and were among those once temporarily seized by wildlife officials then returned to the temple.
They said they will remove all the tigers and move them to a Ratchaburi province sanctuary if the temple cannot provide proper assurances of their care. About 100 rare birds suspected of being trafficked were previously removed in February.