Warning: some graphic images
Last week, the world was shocked when an endangered silverback gorilla was shot dead after a 4-year-old child fell into its enclosure.
Like many catastrophes, while we mourn for one, we often forget about others – so while the world was mourning Harambe the gorilla, a shocking massacre in Thailand went unnoticed.
On Wednesday, 40 dead tiger cubs were found in the freezer of a Buddhist temple west of Bangkok, Thailand, after the Thai government confiscated 33 live tigers from the temple. While it’s unclear what the purpose of preserving the cubs was for, the temple has been accused of wildlife trafficking in the past.
— L.J. (@AuntieSin) June 2, 2016
The discovery of the cubs was part of an ongoing raid and investigation by wildlife officials and police and will result in a new set of criminal charges, the BBC reports.
Police Colonel Bandith Meungsukhum told AFP news agency the cubs were just one or two days old when they died, but said it was not yet clear how long they had been dead.
While the purpose of freezing the cubs is still left unclear, tiger bones and body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine – but monks at the temple have previously denied trafficking allegations.
Dead tiger cubs were found in a freezer at this popular tourist spot.https://t.co/HEGEyopHll
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 2, 2016
Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the wildlife department, explained the cubs were kept in the same freezer as the food reserved for living tigers, according to news website Al Jazeera. He added: “The temple never registered these dead cubs, they are illegal.”
“They must be of some value for the temple to keep them, but for what is beyond me,” he also said, according to Reuters.
In the freezer with the cub carcasses was also an endangered bearcat.
— The Wire (@thewire_in) June 2, 2016
Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yanasampanno, known more commonly as Tiger Temple, is a major tourist attraction in Thailand, where, for a fee of approximately £11, you can be in close proximity with heavily sedated tigers – a perfect selfie for some. According to Thai officials, the temple generates nearly $6 million annually in ticket sales.
Tiger Temple has been the centre of scandal for years, and while it labels itself as an animal sanctuary, activists describe it as, quite plainly, a blackmarket wildlife trafficking centre.
Peta has said animals there are ‘imprisoned and denied everything that is important to them’.
The concept of tiger temples is sick to begin with, but add the fact that they may be used for trafficking as well? Absolutely revolting. If nothing else, let’s hope this finding discourages tourists from visiting temples like these for good.