Bangkok, June 2 (IANS) Thai authorities recovered two tiger skins on Thursday from inside a truck as it tried to leave a controversial temple, which used the big cats to attract tourists.
Besides the skins, members from the National Parks Conservation Department investigating the temple since Monday, also found hundreds of amulets allegedly containing tiger remains such as bones and teeth.
On Wednesday, officials had recovered 40 dead tiger cubs, just one to two days old, from a freezer, EFE news reported.
The cubs were not recorded in the register for wild animals the temple has to maintain by law and that means the protection department will press charges for illegal possession, besides other possible offences.
On Monday, Thai authorities began the rescue of 137 tigers from the Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampann temple, also known as the “Tiger Temple” in Kanchanaburi province.
The temple was an attraction for tourists, who could stroll around and take pictures with the tigers, who appeared sedated, and one of the reasons why animal rights groups have criticised the park for years.
Meanwhile, the temple management refused to cooperate with the authorities, which means the removal and relocation process of the tigers could last several days, although 40 of them have been rescued till Tuesday, according to local daily Khao Sod.
Containers with intestines and other body parts were also recovered from among animal remains, which, if found to be recent, would further support the accusations of wildlife activists.
Some animal rights organisations have claimed the tigers appear sedated when interacting with tourists and have accused the temple of being a facade to cover illegal animal trafficking.
However, the temple management has consistently denied allegations of mistreatment and trafficking of the animals.
The tigers, including some that are not native to Thailand, will be taken to wildlife shelters around the country.
The temple has been closed to the public since the raid.