Bid to relocate temple tigers delayed

Bid to relocate temple tigers delayed

The controversial Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi is fighting to keep the animals, despite efforts to remove them by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

The department is now negotiating with the temple, which has agreed to hand over its tigers on the condition it is granted a zoo licence. Thanya Nethithamakul, the department’s acting chief, said authorities are going to talk with temple representatives about relocating the 147 tigers to the department’s wildlife breeding centres in Chon Buri and Ratchaburi. Despite a pledge to cooperate, the temple wants a zoo licence before it hands over the tigers.

“The temple has proposed conditions that the department must approve a zoo license to the temple, in exchange for returning those tigers to the department. It also wants the department to leave a number of tigers at the 'zoo,' ” he said. Mr Thanya said the department is considering the conditions carefully, but will not do anything unlawful. The last time the department tried to relocate the tigers forestry officials were surrounded by monks and temple staff and the operation failed.

Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yanasampanno in Sai Yok district, known to tourists as the Tiger Temple, was originally allowed to look after a small number of tigers, but their population has increased rapidly and there is a suspicion of foul play. Wildlife activists believed the tiger population is unusually high.

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