Tiger Temple keeps its animals – for now

Tiger Temple keeps its animals – for now

There were no clashes, no scenes of confrontation at Kanachanaburi's famous Tiger temple as government wildlife officials settled for counting the temple's tigers rather than taking them away.

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The relaxed atmosphere of the famous Tiger Temple gives visitors a rare opportunity to mingle with the big animals and take photos like this one to impress their friends. Wildlife officials and animal protection activists, say however, that such scenes are misleading and the temple is violating many principles of wildlife management. Photos by Paitpat Janthong

Temple's tigers can stay, for now

AFP – Wildlife officials began a headcount Friday of nearly 150 tigers kept by monks at a temple which has become the centre of a dispute over the welfare of the animals.

Wat Pa Luangta Maha Bua in Kanchanaburi province – commonly known as the "Tiger Temple" – has long proved a hit among tourists who flock there to visit the monks and be photographed next to their huge feline pets.

A tiger has his chip implant read by Tiger Temple personnel during a headcount at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi.

But the authorities say the temple has been keeping the animals without the proper paperwork and have vowed to seize them, sparking standoffs in recent weeks between officials and angry monks blocking their way.

Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said earlier this week it planned to take the animals away on Friday.

But when officials arrived at the temple Friday morning they contented themselves with counting the tigers, most of whom are microchipped, to ascertain how many there are in the sanctuary.

"We have come to check and scan the tigers to see whether the numbers match what we have or not," DNP official Somsak Poopet told AFP, adding the department said they had been told there should be 147 tigers at the temple.

"An accident wating to happen," says Edwin Wiek, founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, which has campaigned to have the tigers removed.

Asked whether the department would consider seizing the animals he replied: "We have that idea, but in our actions so far it has not reached that process yet."

Unlike previous visits, the monks did not object to officials entering the sanctuary, an AFP photographer on the scene said.

Edwin Wiek: "I think a lot of the people here are very motivated, I think they really love the animals, but they're doing it absolutely the wrong way."

The tigers were led out in groups of four and tied to a tree to allow officials to scan their microchips.

The headcount was sparked by allegations from a temple vet earlier this week who complained to police that three tigers had recently disappeared from the sanctuary, sparking fears they may have been sold on.

Local animal-rights groups have accused the temple of failing to properly look after the tigers.

In February, wildlife officials said they conducted a raid and discovered dozens of hornbills, jackals and Asian bears that were being kept at the sanctuary without the correct permits.

"I think a lot of the people here are very motivated, I think they really love the animals, but they're doing it absolutely the wrong way," Edwin Wiek, founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, which has campaigned to have the tigers removed, told AFP.

Meanwhile, another photo to share on Facebook.

"Wildlife management, whether that's in the wild or captivity, comes with a lot of knowledge, a lot of rules, a lot of dos and don'ts. And walking around with adult tigers like this, that could snap their mood at any time, is an accident waiting to happen," he added.

Temple authorities were unavailable for comment Friday. But they insist they are a genuine conservation project and have previously denied allegations that they have failed to look after the animals or illegally traffick in them.

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Vocabulary

  • absolutely (adv): completely - โดยสิ้นเชิง, อย่างแน่นอน, อย่างแท้จริง
  • activist: someone who takes part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation - นักกิจกรรม
  • allegations: statements that someone had done something wrong or illegal even though this has not been proved - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • ascertain: to discover; to make certain - สืบให้แน่ใจ
  • atmosphere: the mood or feeling that exists in a place - บรรยากาศ
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • block: to stop someone/ something from moving through or along something else - ปิดกั้น, กีดขวาง
  • campaign: to try to achieve political or social change by persuading other people or the government to do something - รณรงค์
  • captivity: the state of being kept in a confined space; the state of being kept as a prisoner - การถูกกักขัง, การถูกจองจำ
  • comment (noun): expressing an opinion - การแสดงความคิดเห็น
  • commonly (adverb): ordinarily, generally - อย่างธรรมดา
  • complain: to say that you are annoyed, unhappy or not satisfied about somebody/something - บ่น, ร้องทุกข์
  • conduct: to do something in an organised way; to carry out — - ลงมือทำ, ดำเนิน, ปฏิบัติ
  • consider: to give careful thought to something before making a decision - พิจารณา
  • content (verb): to be satisfied with something even though it may not be all you want - ทำให้พอใจ
  • denied (verb): said that something is not true or did not happen - ปฏิเสธ
  • Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (noun): an agency of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment responsible for overseeing the country's national parks, wildlife and plants - กรมอุทยานแห่งชาติ สัตว์ป่า และพันธุ์พืช
  • disappear: to move something or someone somewhere where they can no longer be seen - หายไป, สาบสูญ, สูญหาย
  • dispute: a serious disagreement - ข้อโต้แย้ง
  • dos and don'ts (idiom): (a list of) things that you should do and things that you should not do -
  • feline: connected with an animal of the cat family; like a cat - เกี่ยวกับสัตว์ตระกูลแมว, เป็นของแมว
  • flock: to go somewhere in large numbers; to gather together in large numbers - แห่กันไป
  • foundation: an organisation that provides money for things such as medical research or for a charity - มูลนิธิ
  • founder (noun): a person who establishes an institution, business, or organisation - ผู้ก่อตั้ง
  • genuine: real; honest - แท้
  • headcount: the number of people at a place or working at a place; an act of counting the number of people who are at an event, in a vehicle, employed by an organisation, etc. - การนับรายหัว
  • hornbill (noun): a tropical bird with a very large curved beak - นกเงือก
  • illegally: in a way that is against the law - อย่างผิดกฎหมาย
  • implant: something that is put into a person's body in a medical operation - สิ่งฝัง, วัสดุฝัง
  • impress: to cause someone to admire or respect someone/something - ทำให้ประทับใจ
  • insist: to keep saying very firmly that something is true, even when other people will not believe you - ยืนกราน
  • jackal (noun): a wild animal like a dog, that eats the meat of animals that are already dead and lives in Africa and Asia - หมาใน (พบในแอฟริกาและเอเชีย)
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • look after (verb): to take care of, look after - เฝ้าดู, มองตามหลัง, ดูแล
  • management: the act or skill of dealing with people or situations in a successful way - การจัดการ
  • microchip (noun): a very small piece of a material that is a semiconductor, used to carry a complicated electronic circuit - ชิ้นซิลิคอนขนาดเล็กที่เก็บแผงวงจรไฟฟ้า, ไมโครชิป, แผ่นชิป
  • mingle: to move around in a group of people - ผสม, ร่วมมือกัน
  • misleading (adj): making someone believe something that is incorrect or not true - ชักนำไปในทางที่ผิด
  • mood: the way you feel at a particular time - อารมณ์
  • motivated: wanting to do something - มีแรงจูงใจ
  • object: to disagree with - คัดค้าน
  • opportunity (noun): a chance to do something, or a situation in which it is easy for you to do something - โอกาส
  • personnel: the people who are employed in a company, organization or one of the armed forces - บุคลากร, เจ้าหน้าที่, พนักงาน
  • principle: a basic idea or rule that explains or controls how something happens or works - ทฤษฎี, ข้อปฏิบัติ, หลักปฏิบัติ
  • process: a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result - แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
  • project: a planned piece of work that is designed to find information about something, to produce something new, or to improve something - โครงการ
  • proper: right, appropriate or correct; according to the rules - เหมาะสม
  • properly: in a way that is correct and/or appropriate - อย่างเหมาะสม, อย่างถูกต้อง
  • protection: the act of protecting somebody/something; the state of being protected - การอารักขา, การปกป้อง
  • prove (verb): to show to be true, i.e., to have a particular quality - ปรากฎความจริง
  • raid: to forcefully and suddenly enter a place to catch criminals or to search for something like drugs or, in this case, fake passports - ใช้กำลังเข้าค้นสถานที่หรือ จับกุมคนร้าย
  • rare: not happening very often - หาได้ยาก
  • remove (verb): to take something away - เอาออก
  • sanctuary: a place where birds or animals can live and be protected, especially from hunters or dangerous conditions - เขตสงวนพันธุ์สัตว์ป่า
  • scene: site; a place where something happens or happened - สถานที่เกิดเหตุ
  • seize (verb): to take control of by force or official power - ยึกครอง
  • snap (verb): done quickly without much warning or preparation -
  • spark: to make something happen, especially something bad - ก่อให้เกิด
  • standoff: a disagreement or fight in which neither opponent can do anything to win or achieve their aim; a stalemate - สถานการณ์ที่ต่างเอาชนะกันไม่ได้
  • the wild: living or growing in natural conditions; not kept in a house or on a farm - สภาพธรรมชาติ
  • traffick: to obtain and sell things illegally, especially illegal drugs - ค้าขายยาเสพย์ติดหรือมนุษย์
  • unavailable: not able to be contacted; not able to talk to people or meet people - ไม่สามารถที่จะติดต่อได้, ไม่สามารถหาได้
  • violate: to do something that is against a law, rule or agreement - ฝ่าฝืน, ละเมิด
  • vow: to make a formal and serious promise to do something or to promise what you say is true - สาบาน, ปฏิญาณ
  • welfare: good care and living conditions, in this case, for animals - ความสะดวกสบาย, ความมีสุขภาพดี, สวัสดิภาพ
  • wildlife: animals, birds, insects, etc. that are wild and live in a natural environment - สัตว์ป่า

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