THAI officials have released images showing the grisly remains of one of dozens of tigers that have died since their rescue from a notorious wildlife attraction three years ago.
A total of 147 animals were seized from the Tiger Temple west of Bangkok in 2016 after allegations of animal trafficking and long-term abuse.
Thai officials are seen preparing to bury the remains of a tiger that died three years after its rescue from a tourist attraction[/caption]
Eighty six of the 147 tigers rescued have died so far[/caption]
Government officials load a tiger onto a truck during a rescue operation in 2016[/caption]
Since the rescue, a total of 86 tigers have died from a condition known as Laryngeal tongue paralysis, their immune systems having been weakened by extensive inbreeding and the conditions of their captivity.
Each animal was given an autopsy before its body was preserved in formaldehyde as evidence.
Images show the corpse of one tiger being removed from a barrel at the Khao Prathap Chang Wildlife Sanctuary so it could be prepared for a proper burial.
Officials in white coats are seen arranging the remains on a white tarpaulin with metal hooks beofre hosing them down.
The rescued animals have been being cared for at the Khao Prathap Chang Wildlife Sanctuary[/caption]
For more then a decade, visitors to the Tiger Temple in the province of Kanchanaburi were given the opportunity to pose for selfies with the big cats and bottle-feed cubs.
But the attraction was later shut down after it emerged its owners were selling tiger parts to the black market and allegedly drugging the animals.
A 2016 raid uncovered tiger skins and teeth as well as at least 1,500 amulets made from tiger bones.
They also found 60 cub carcasses stored in jars in freezers, with some of the animals having been dead for more than five years.
One of the temple’s monks is reported to have attempted to escape the raid in a truck filled with hundreds of vials of tiger body parts.
A black market for the body parts of a number of animals exists across Asia, where they continue to be used in the production of traditional medicines.
Visitors were for more than a decade allowed to take photos with and bottle-feed tigers[/caption]
The owners of the tourist attraction are alleged to have engaged in animal trafficking[/caption]
Tiger hides can also sell for tens of thousands of dollars in China.
The DNA of all 147 tigers was found to be traceable back to a breeding stock of just six individuals, national parks official Patarapol Maneeorn said at a news conference.
“[Inbreeding] affects their well-being, resulting in disabilities and weakened health condition,” he added.
“And when they have weakened genetic traits, they also have problems with their immune system as well.”
The health of many of the tigers has deteriorated since the rescue, and more than half have now died.
The temple from which they were rescued has denied accusations of illegal breeding and drugging.
Patarapol added that Thai authorities would do their best to care for the surviving rescued tigers.
“We are mobilising team members, increasing our readiness and adjusting our plan,” he said.
“We will provide the best care possible.”
Officials are seen using metal hooks to arrange the carcass[/caption]
Animal rights campaigners have criticised the way the animals have been cared for since the rescue[/caption]
Edwin Wiek, the director and founder of Thai NGO Wildlife Friends Foundation (WFF), told CNN the tiger rescue was a “disaster waiting to happen”.
He said authorities had taken on a job they had not properly planned for — and didn’t listen to the advice of organisations like his.
He said WFF had suggested three years ago the cubs and female tigers should be separated, and that all the tigers should be spayed.
Instead, the tigers were kept in small cages, he said, where disease could easily spread.
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He added: “The authorities should have asked for help from outside, but instead insisted on doing all work themselves.
“Hopefully lessons will be learned from this case, but we will have to wait and see.”
The animals are thought to have been intended for Asia’s market in animal body parts, still used in the production of traditional medicine[/caption]
Thai officials said the remaining tigers would be provided with the best care possible[/caption]
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