2,000 animals at Tiger Temple 'starving'

2,000 animals at Tiger Temple 'starving'

Some cattle are fed with a few bunches of morning glory while a large number of animals are still starving.
Some cattle are fed with a few bunches of morning glory while a large number of animals are still starving.

Once 100 million baht a year tourism business can't afford to buy animal food to feed all the animals wandering around its property.


2,000 animals at Tiger Temple 'starving'

Piyarach Chongcharoen

2,000 animals remain at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi with little, if any, food after authorities moved its tigers.

The recent Tiger removal has reportedly left the temple without any means for raising money to pay for animal food.

So, the Tiger Temple is now asking for food donations to feed the remaining animals. 


Staff at the Tiger Temple said there have been no visitors at all to the temple after the relocation of 147 tigers to several breeding centres in other provinces between May 30 and June 4.

The relocation was carried out by the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department under a court order.

The temple, once famous among tourists for its Bengal tigers from 2004 to last month, was accused of involvement in illegal wildlife trafficking.

Nathawut Phokaew, a temple boy (a layman serving monks at a temple in exchange for shelter and food), said on Wednesday after the tigers were removed, the temple had been virtually closed.

(Photos by Piyarach Chongcharoen)


Although the monastery no longer has tigers in its care, it has to feed about 2,000 other animals including cows, buffaloes, deer, barking deer, boars and others.

The problem is that the temple doesn't have any money anymore.

Many of the cattle on the temple's property were rescued or bought from slaughterhouses, a popular form of merit-making among Thai Buddhists.

Now they might die anyway, an ironically even more painful death from starvation.

The animals are now fed subsistence amounst of feed and vegetables each day because the temple could not afford to buy more, he added.

Mr Nathawut said he and other temple staff would continue to stay out of a concern the temple would have no one to feed the animals.

Massive tiger temple expansion being built (Source: Screen shot from National Geographic video below).


It is worth recalling the golden days of the Tiger Temple, only a month or so ago, that have so quickly faded from memory as they passed from our Facebook timelines.

Tigers once earned the Tiger Temple an estimated 100 million baht a year in tourism revenue.

During the Tiger Temple's golden days, monks at the temple were accused of speed breeding and selling off tigers illegally.

Moves to remove the tigers gained momentum in 2014 when three of its 147 captive tigers reportedly disappeared.

The results of an investigation published in the National Geographic magazine indicated that tigers had been taken illegally to and from the temple since at least 2004 (see here).


The Tiger Temple denied anything at all was wrong until the very last moment before the wildlife department entered the temple with a court order.

The head of the wildlife department tried to negotiate with Police Colonel Supittapong Pakcharung, chairman of the Tiger Temple Foundation, which oversaw the hugely profitable tiger zoo, but failed, with the Police Colonel threatening legal action against anyone who trespassed, up to the very last moment (see here).


The lawyer Soochaphong Boonserm who once worked as a volunteer helping the temple with legal documents later resigned and became a whistleblower when he uncovered evidence of wrongdoing.

The lawyer said he uncovered evidence that the Tiger Temple had transferred money out of the country to purchase plots of land in Germany and the Czech Republic, purportedly to build new temples.

He said the land plots were registered in the name of the controversial head abbot Phra Ajarn Chan (see here).

Deputy director-general of the wildlife department confronts police colonel chairman of massively profitable tiger zoo.


The animals at the Tiger Temple can only forage since there is not enough money to buy them any food at all.

Gone are the days of millions of baht of tourism profits.

"Some of them have become sick. Some are pregnant. We can't do anything but let them forage for food on temple grounds. It would be good if government officials, particularly veterinarians, could come to take a look at them from time to time.

"We would also like to call on animal lovers to donate food to the temple so we can feed them," he said.

Kasemsorn Polchai, another temple boy, said the animals were now scattering all over the vast temple land, looking for food.

"Donations for the animals are needed," he said.


In 2001, Luang Ta Chan, the abbot, took in seven wounded tigers, allegedly at the behest of villagers.

Wildlife officials at the time came to take a look at them and decided the big cats needed to be impounded because they were protected animals.

However, the authorities lacked the means to move or take care of them so they asked the temple to keep looking after them on their behalf.


With the rare tigers on long chains so that they could be petted, the monastery became popular with tourists from all over the world.

Their numbers had grown to 147 at the last count in 2015.

The temple reportedly relied on donations and revenue from animal shows to keep the operation going.

Over the past two years, the temple was accused of being involved in animal trafficking after a veterinarian who used to work for the temple revealed the number of the tigers went up and down, perhaps indicating tigers were being sold illegally.

To partially rectify the situation, the temple applied for a zoo licence but the application was ultimately turned down.

Wildlife authorities took action in May to take away the tigers.

Raids on the temple revealed 40 bodies of baby tiger cubs in freezers.

Body organs and parts of dead adult tigers that could be sold for hefty profits also shocked the world when they were found.

Thousands of amulets and magical talismans made of tiger parts were also seized.

The abbot denied any involvement, saying he had nothing to do with all the dead tigers and tiger parts found around the temple.   


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  • abbot (noun): the head monk at a temple - เจ้าอาวาส
  • accused: to be said to have done something wrong or committed a crime - ถูกกล่าวหา
  • afford: to have enough money to be able to pay for something - มีเงินพอจับจ่าย  ซื้อหา
  • allegedly (adv): stated without giving complete proof - ที่ถูกกล่าวหา, นัยว่า
  • amulet: a small object that some people wear around their neck as a protection against evil, bad luck, disease etc - เครื่องราง
  • at the behest of: because somebody has ordered or requested it - ตามคำสั่ง
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • breeding: the producing of young animals, plants, etc - การผสมพันธุ์สัตว์เพื่อขยายพันธุ์
  • carried out: when a task is finished and completed - ทำให้สมบูรณ์, ทำให้สำเร็จ
  • cattle: cows and bulls that are kept as farm animals for their milk or meat - วัวควาย
  • chain (noun): a series of connected metal rings, used for pulling or fastening things; a length of chain used for a particular purpose - โซ่
  • concern: a worry - ความกังวล
  • conservation (noun): the protection of plants and animals, natural areas, and interesting and important structures and buildings, especially from the damaging effects of human activity - การอนุรักษ์ธรรมชาติ, การป้องกันความสูญเสีย, การสงวนไว้
  • court: the place where legal trials take place and where crimes, etc. are judged - ศาล
  • donate: to give something such as money or goods to an organisation, especially to a temple, charity, school, political party, etc. - บริจาค
  • donation: money or goods that you give to an organisation, especially one that helps people - เงินหรือสิ่งของบริจาค
  • forage: to go from place to place searching, especially for food - ออกหาอาหาร
  • from time to time: sometimes but not often - บางครั้ง
  • illegal: against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
  • impounded: taken away by the police - ยึดไว้เป็นของกลาง
  • in exchange for: giving something to someone and receiving something else from them of a similar type or value - แลกเปลี่ยน
  • involvement: the act or process of taking part in something - การเกี่ยวข้อง
  • lack (verb): to not have something - ขาด
  • layman (noun): a person who is a member of a temple or a church but is not a priest or member of the clergy - สามัญชน
  • magical (adj): containing magic; used in magic - พิทยาพล, ฤทธา, มหัศจรรย์, ซึ่งมีเวทมนตร์
  • means: methods; ways - วิธี, วิธีการ
  • merit-making: doing good things according to religious beliefs - การทำบุญ
  • monastery: a building or series of buildings in which monks live, worship and work together - วัด, ที่อยู่อาศัยของพร
  • officials: people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • on their behalf: as a representative of - ในนามของ ในฐานะของ
  • operation: an activity which is planned to achieve something - การดำเนินการ
  • order (verb): to use your position of authority to tell somebody to do something or say that something must happen - สั่ง
  • out of: because of -
  • particularly: especially, or more than usual - โดยเฉพาะ
  • pet (verb): to stroke with hand, to move hand over fur or skin of an animal to sooth it - ลูบ
  • popular (adj): a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people - เป็นที่นิยม, เป็นที่ชื่นชอบ
  • pregnant: having a baby developing inside the body - ท้อง ตั้งครรภ์
  • protect: to make sure that somebody/something is not harmed, injured, damaged, etc - ป้องกัน,อารักขา,คุ้มกัน
  • province: one of many divisions of the government of a country into smaller parts - จังหวัด
  • rare: uncommon, unusual - ซึ่งหายาก
  • recall: to remember - จำได้ นึกทบทวน
  • rectify: to put right something that is wrong - ทำให้ถูกต้อง
  • relocation: the process of moving someone or something to a new place - การย้ายที่ใหม่
  • remain (verb): to stay in the same place; to not leave - ยังอยู่, พักอยู่, รออยู่
  • removal: taking something away - การเอาออกจาก
  • rescue: saving a person or animal from a dangerous or unpleasant situation - การช่วยชีวิต
  • revealed: made known or showed somthing that was surprising or that was previously secret - เปิดเผย
  • revenue: income from taxes or business activities - รายได้
  • scatter (verb): to spread over a large area - กระจัดกระจาย
  • seize (verb): to take something using force - ยึด, จับกุม
  • shelter: a place where animals are protected - โรงเลี้ยงสัตว์, สถานที่ที่ปลอดภัยสำหรับสัตว์
  • shelter: a temporary place to stay - ที่พักชั่วคราว
  • slaughterhouse: a factory where animals are killed before being made into food - โรงฆ่าสัตว์
  • staff: workers employed by a person or organisation considered as a group - คณะผู้ทำงาน, คนงาน
  • subsistence (adj): having just the smallest amount you need to survive and continue living, not saving anything - ระดับพอยังชีพ
  • talisman: an object that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck - เครื่องราง, สิ่งนำโชค
  • temple boy: a layman serving monks at a temple in exchange for shelter and food -
  • took in: to accept someone to your home and look after them, providing a place to sleep and eat -
  • trafficking: dealing in illegal goods, like drugs, weapons or in illegally moving humans or animals from one place to another - การค้าสิ่งที่ผิดกฎหมาย
  • unveiled: announced something officially that was previously a secret - เปิดเผย
  • vast: extremely large in area, size, amount, etc. - กว้างใหญ่, มหาศาล
  • veterinarian: a person with a medical degree trained to take care of the health of animals - สัตวแพทย์
  • virtually: almost - เกือบจะ
  • visitor (noun): a person who goes to a place for a short time; a tourist or guest - นักท่องเที่ยว, ผู้มาเยี่ยม, ผู้มาเยือน
  • welfare (noun): good care and living conditions - ความสะดวกสบาย, ความมีสุขภาพดี, สวัสดิภาพ
  • wildlife: animals, birds, insects, etc. that are wild and live in a natural environment - สัตว์ป่า
  • wounded: injured, especially where your skin or flesh is damaged, usually seriously - บาดเจ็บ
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