Tiger Temple investigators find suspected slaughterhouse–four live tigers and 12 empty cages were found during police raid at house 30 miles from temple in western Thailand, Guardian News and Media reported on June 7th.
Thai police found what they believe is a slaughterhouse and tiger-holding facility used in a suspected animal trafficking network. Acting on a tip, officers raided a home about 30 miles from the Tiger Temple, a popular tourist attraction that allows visitors to pose for photos with the tigers and take them for walks.
Investigators believe the house, in an isolated area and surrounded by tall fences, served as a holding facility and slaughterhouse, said police colonel Montri Pancharoen, deputy commander of the crime suppression division, which 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. The house had a work area with a large chopping board and a variety of knives, which authorities believe served as the slaughter area.
Police detained two caretakers at the facility, who claimed the tigers were the private property of the home’s owner, said Montri. Police are searching for the owner.
“The Tiger Temple is just a starting point, or a supplier,” he said. “We have information that the Tiger Temple is not the only place that supplies tigers to illegal smugglers.”
During the operation to seize 137 tigers last week from Tiger Temple, wildlife officials made some gruesome discoveries. Wildlife officials found 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer with 20 more preserved in jars.
Animal rights activists have long accused the temple of mistreating its tigers. The government suspects its monks have been involved in illegal breeding and trafficking of the animals.
A day later, police stopped a monk and two other men in a truck leaving the temple with two tiger skins, more than 700 vials containing tiger skin and a suitcase with tiger teeth, officials said. The Tiger temple scandal exposes the shadowy billion-dollar Asian trade.
On Wednesday, June 8th, the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) released news on the discovery a contract, singed by the Tiger Temple’s abbot that might link the Tiger Temple to wildlife trafficking as police prepare to expand a probe against the temple for allegedly supply tigers to the black market.
The DNP is waiting for results of DNA tests on living tigers and the remains of dead cubs discovered at the Temple to confirm the allegations that the Temple is serving as a “transition point for tiger trafficking.” The information given to the police should aid in the expansion of the investigation. DNR filed eight complaints with police against the Temple and their abbot.
The deputy national police chief assigned to oversee the matter said he will look into the details provided by the DNR and any connections between the new and old allegations that involve he disappearance of three adult tigers in December 2014.
On Thursday during a news conference, members of the Tiger Temple deny their abbot was involved in illegal trafficking of tigers “What happened here seems to suggest that many crimes were committed,” said Siri Wangboongerd, a spokesman for the Tiger Temple. “But what happened here wasn’t done by the abbot because he does not manage this place.”
Meanwhile, Myanmar authorities reported on Tuesday, they plan to shut down a notorious border town where exotic animal parts are openly sold. Mong La, a lawless border town located in rebel-held territory in Myanmar’s Shan state, is a market for endangered species and products — such as elephant tusks and tiger wine — which are freely traded, largely to Chinese tourists.
It is part of the “golden triangle,” a hotbed of illegal activity, including drug, wildlife and people trafficking, that straddles Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.
“We are planning to close the market. But without local people and local police, we won’t be successful,” Kyaw San Naing, the director of Myanmar’s conservation ministry, told the Agence France-Presse. He said previous governments — for decades run by the military — had allowed the trade to flourish making it hard to quickly shutter the lucrative zone. The ministry plans an education campaign to teach people about the value of protecting Myanmar’s wildlife and natural resources.
Indonesia’s environment and forestry ministry plans to “quadruple maximum jail terms for animal poachers and traffickers in a major effort to overhaul the countries wildlife crime laws. Maximum sentences for poaching and trading in protected species will increase from five to 20 years under the newly proposed legislation.
The South China Morning Post, reported on Wednesday, the government has faced criticism for inaction, with green groups saying laws relating to protected animals are not strong enough. The environment and forestry ministry hopes the planned overhaul of the old law, which dates from 1990, can improve the situation. The ministry will submit its proposal to parliament in the coming months, and hopes the new regulations will come into force next year.
Environmental group WWF welcomed the proposed overhaul but cautioned that it will not solve the problem of weak enforcement in far-flung parts of the archipelago, where laws set in Jakarta are often flouted. “Having a new set of rules doesn’t mean much if the law isn’t being enforced,” said WWF Indonesia spokesman Nyoman Iswarayoga. “Better supervision, investigating cases more intensively, and monitoring how animals are being sold are equally important.”
Critics also point out that changes to the law won’t necessarily translate to longer jail sentences. Convictions for wildlife crime are rare, and courts have been criticized for not taking poaching and trafficking seriously enough and handing down short sentences.
Fathoni insisted efforts were being made to improve enforcement, with a new senior position focusing on enforcing the law created in his ministry, and specialist police officers dispatched to every province to tackle wildlife crime.
However he admitted the Indonesian government faced an uphill battle as demand for endangered species remains high. “As long as there is demand, the supply will keep coming.”