Dept denies foul play over tiger deaths
RATCHABURI: The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation yesterday put on display the carcasses of the tigers which died in its care after they were rescued from a Kanchanaburi-based monastery in a bid to end speculation that they had been sold.
High-level department officials took reporters to Khao Prathab Chang wildlife breeding centre in Chom Bung district following reports that 86 out of 147 tigers seized from Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno monastery in 2016 had died over the course of three years and allegations that some of the body parts might have been sold for use in traditional Chinese medicines.
Of the 147 tigers rescued from the Tiger Temple, the Khao Prathab Chang facility received 85, of which 54 died. Khaozon Wildlife Breeding Centre received 62 tigers and 32 of them died.
The DNP concluded that the animals died of canine distemper -- a viral disease -- and a respiratory disease caused by inbreeding.
At the Khao Prathab Chang breeding centre, the carcasses were kept in 200-litre barrels filled with formaldehyde, department spokesman, Sompote Maneerat, said.
When preserved in formaldehyde, their skins and even bones would no longer be of commercial use, according to the spokesman.
"It is the best method in accordance with technical principles. No parts of them will be left behind," Mr Sompote said.
After examination of all the evidence is complete, the department will sign an approval order for the remains to be burned.
"It is the best way to deal with these carcasses," he said.
Banphote Maleehuan, head of the Khao Prathab Chang centre, said the tigers seized from the Tiger Temple had been kept in cages of 40-60 square metres, each with a pond and enough space for the animals to exercise and feed in.
The tigers became ill and began dying the same month they were brought to the facility, he said.
The illnesses were incurable and the department, together with Mahidol University, had tried their best to take good care of them, according to Mr Banphote.