Monk and Staff Busted Leaving Tiger Temple with Tiger Hides and Amulets
KANCHANBURI– Not more than a day after National Parks and Wildlife officers officials raided Thailand’s controversial “Tiger Temple”, Police have arrested two temple workers and a monk after they were caught leaving the temple with two tiger skins and other animal parts. They were charged with possession of illegal wildlife.
Inside the truck were a monk, identified as Phra Lamom, a temple official, Mr Kongkiat Chanpeng, and the driver.
Mr Kongkiat told police he was ordered by a monk to move all the items out of the temple to an undisclosed destination.
Officials said Phra Lamom the monk travelling with them will also be arrested once he is defrocked.
Ms.Teunchai Noochdumrong, director of the government’s wildlife conservation office said the staff were carrying more than 700 vials containing tiger skin as well as many tiger teeth hidden in a suitcase.
An adult tiger skin can fetch anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 US dollars (£4,150-£6,925), according to Steve Galster, the director of Freeland, an organization that fights wildlife trafficking.
The vials are typically used as good luck charms.
Ms Teunchai said “I am quite shocked, we all have heard concerns and allegations about this temple but I would never have thought they would be so blatant.”
The discovery comes a day after 40 dead tiger cubs were found in a freezer at the temple.
Authorities have been transferring the temple’s 137 tigers to animal shelters after obtaining a court order.
The temple is a popular tourist attraction that charged admission for visitors to take photos with tigers.
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