Tiger Temple closes doors to visitors

Tiger Temple closes doors to visitors

A well-known tiger temple in Kanchaburi province has been closed for tourists' safety as authorities relocate the remaining 137 tigers from the temple.

Adisorn Noochdumrong, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), instructed authorities Tuesday to erect a sign outside Wat Pa Luang Ta Maha Bua, known as the Tiger Temple, to prohibit visitors from entering the temple in Sai Yok district to ensure their safety.

So far, 40 out of 137 tigers have been relocated from the temple to the Khao Pa Son Wildlife Breeding Centre in Ratchaburi's Chom Bung district. Of the 40 tigers, seven were transferred on Monday night while the rest were removed Tuesday.

The relocation of the wild animals started on Monday evening after the Kanchanaburi Provincial Court approved a warrant allowing the DNP to search the temple the same day.

On Monday morning, the department sought the search warrant after more than 300 national park officials and police officers, led by Mr Adisorn, were obstructed as they tried to remove the tigers from the temple. The temple's entrance was blocked with barriers to prevent authorities from entering. Failed talks between the department and the temple prompted the department to seek the warrant.

Authorities were also stationed at the temple Tuesdayto make sure the situation stayed under control as some tourists and temple officials had gathered to protest against the tigers' relocation.

Pattharapol Manee-on, a veterinarian with the DNP, said the relocation of the tigers has been going smoothly as the mission was well-planned to minimise effects on the tigers.

The relocation effort was being monitored by veterinarian teams. The department also took the fastest route from the temple to the centre, he added.

According to the DNP's plan, 58 tigers will be transferred to the Khao Pa Son Wildlife Breeding Centre while the rest will be relocated to the Khao Prathap Chang, another breeding centre in the same province.

The Tiger Temple, which housed 147 tigers, 10 of which were relocated earlier this year, has been accused of being involved in the illegal wildlife trade.

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