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Thailand authorities bar people from entering Tiger Temple

The temple faces allegations that it unlawfully bred tigers and encroached on public land.

Published: 07th June 2016 08:10 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th June 2016 08:11 PM   |  A+A-

Thailand Tiger Temple_R

In this Feb, 12, 2015 file photo a Thai Buddhist monk gives water to a tiger from a bottle at the "Tiger Temple" in Saiyok district in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok, Thailand | AP

By PTI

BANGKOK: Thailand authorities today barred people from entering the now infamous Tiger Temple, where carcasses of several tiger cubs and hundreds of other tiger parts were recently unearthed, saying the facility was built illegally.

Watcharin Wakamanon, Kanchanapuri district's chief land reform officer, put up a sign in front of the temple which said the sprawling plot belonged to the Land Reform Office and was meant for use by poor farmers.

Meanwhile, park officials, troops and police raided a house in Kanchanaburi earlier today and seized four live tigers, which were believed to have been brought from the Tiger Temple.

Authorities believe the house was a slaughterhouse and tiger holding facility used in a suspected animal trafficking network.

The officials found two male and two female tigers in four separate cages.

Police said the officials would check DNA of the four tigers to see if they matched with three tigers that disappeared from the Tiger Temple in 2015.

Police said the house might be a transit point for smuggled wildlife and tigers and the big cats could have been slaughtered.

Last week, authorities found 40 dead tiger cubs in a freezer and 20 more preserved in jars during a raid on the temple premises.

The temple, a popular tourist destination in Thailand that charged admission for visitors to take photos with the tigers, now faces allegations that it unlawfully bred tigers and encroached on public land.

Officials said they had found evidence that temple abbot Luang Ta Chan had signed an agreement with Laos to exchange tigers.

So far all 137 tigers have been relocated, according to the temple's legal team.

The lawyers of the Tiger Temple said the 61-year-old abbot Luang Ta Chan, would return to the temple for a news conference on Thursday to tell his side of the story.

The whereabouts of the abbot has been unknown since the eve of the official raid on his 22-year-old temple now suspected of illegal trade in wildlife and forest encroachment.

Earlier, it was reported that he was ill after returning from Indonesia.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation earlier filed complaints against the abbot for abusing tigers by putting them on display and shows to entertain tourists.

About 2,000 animals remain at the temple, which is now suffering food shortages.

They include boars, horses, various kinds of deer, cattle, and a male lion which appeared depressed and did not eat.

The management of the temple has yet to present documents to prove the legal ownership of the animals.

Once a tourist attraction of Kanchanaburi, the Tiger Temple became quiet and now appeared more like a Buddhist temple with 15 monks and a novice on its premises.

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