Thailand tiger ‘slaughterhouse’ discovered by police at temple following tip-off

Authorities also find four big cats and dozens of empty cages at the property

Wednesday 08 June 2016 10:44 BST
Thai wildlife officials removed more than 137 tigers from the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province
Thai wildlife officials removed more than 137 tigers from the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province (AFP/Getty)

Police in Thailand have found a slaughterhouse and tiger holding facility used in a suspected animal trafficking network centred on the country’s controversial 'Tiger Temple'.

The authorities raided a house, around 30 miles from the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua temple grounds in Kanchanburi province, Western Thailand, following a tip-off.

Four live tigers were found, along with dozens of empty cages, according to police colonel Montri Pancharoen, who oversaw the raid.

“We believe it was used by the Tiger Temple to hold live tigers before slaughtering them for their skins, meat and bones to be exported outside the country, or sent to restaurants in Thailand that serve tiger meat to tour groups,” he said.

Tiger Temple raided

The property, which was in an isolated area and surrounded by tall fences had a work area with knives and a large chopping area, which authorities believe was used as a slaughter area.

During the raid, the police detained two caretakers at the house, who claimed the tigers were the private property of the absent property owner, Mr Montri said.

Last week, a raid at Thailand’s Tiger Temple exposed one of the country’s biggest wildlife-trafficking scandals.

Authorities removed more than 137 tigers from the Buddhist temple grounds, and found 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer and 20 more preserved in jars.

“The Tiger Temple is just a starting point, or a supplier. We have information that the Tiger Temple is not the only place that supplies tigers to illegal smugglers,” said Mr Montri.

Animal rights activist have long accused the temple - which was a popular tourist destination giving visitors the opportunity to walk the tigers and take pictures with them – of mistreating the animals.

The government also has its suspicions the temple's monks have been involved in illegal breeding and trafficking of the animals, however the monks have resisted previous efforts to remove the tigers.

A day after officials discovered the dead tiger cubs at the temple, the police stopped a monk and two other men who were leaving the temple in a truck loaded with two tiger skins, a suitcase of tiger teeth and 700 vials of tiger skin.

Press Association contributed to this report

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