July 04, 2016

The Truth Behind The Tiger Temple


From Dr Alan Rabinovich,CEO
Editor's Note: In late May, over 100 tigers were removed from the Tiger Temple and placed in government sanctuaries. Earlier this month, frozen tiger cubs and other tiger parts were found at the Temple and a facility that appears to have been used as a slaughterhouse was also discovered. Charges have been filed against the Temple for wildlife trafficking, and if they are found guilty, their zoo license will be revoked. If, in spite of the evidence collected, they are found not guilty, they would retain their zoo license and could potentially purchase back some of the seized tigers. Panthera is monitoring the situation and hopes justice will be served and that no tigers will return to the Tiger Temple.
June 20, 2016

I remember when Thailand’s Tiger Temple opened in 1994 and I went to see the first few tigers they took in. I was in the country myself at the time conducting research on wild tigers and leopards in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Even then, I remember thinking that what this Temple was doing was a bad idea. Little did I imagine the egregious events that would eventually take place at what should have been a sacred site. What started out as a sanctuary for animals that might otherwise have been killed soon became a huge money making scheme where busloads of tourists every day paid to pet, walk with, or cuddle more than 150 tigers. This alone was a catastrophe waiting to happen. Tigers should never be kept as pets nor touched and handled by tourists—it’s unhealthy for the tigers and it’s dangerous for people. No matter how acclimated a captive big cat may seem, it’s still a large, potentially dangerous predator with wild instincts.
But that was clearly not all that was going on. Other allegations being made against the Tiger Temple—that they’d been participating in the illegal wildlife trade—had been circulating for years. Unfortunately, the market for such parts is not only very lucrative but it has been around for centuries. In recent years, with better laws in place, the trade has gone underground to avoid detection. But it’s still out there.

Believe it or not, ground up tiger bones can be more valuable by weight in some parts of the world than any illegal drug, precious metal or precious stone. And virtually every part of the tiger can be sold on the black market—their skin and fur are used for décor or in amulets, their organs are used in medicines and wines, their eyeballs are believed to cure epilepsy and malaria, their whiskers are said to be good for toothaches, and their feces can be used for boils. The tiger is considered one of the most powerful animals on earth and many people believe that consuming or wearing part of a tiger will convey health, power, and energy.

There is a way to stop the illegal wildlife trade, and it doesn’t have to involve demonizing or denigrating cultural practices—it’s about governments and conservationists around the world working together to double down on law enforcement, dismantle poaching supply chains and invest in sophisticated conservation technology.
The laws to protect tigers in the wild—laws that establish protected areas and prohibit people from accessing them—are in place. We just need to enforce them properly.

Today, a mere 3,900 wild tigers remain in Asia… and the illegal wildlife trade is the main culprit. If we want tigers to be around for the next generation—real live tigers—we need to act now.

These terrific pictures taken by Steve Winter – NatGeo
With many thanks to Panthera.Org
N.B. Apparently the colour purple calms the tigers - hence many people are wearing it.


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