Bangkok: Thai wildlife authorities charged three monks at the tiger temple after they were caught trying to smuggle tiger skins and amulets made of tiger parts out of the tiger in a pickup truck on Thursday.
The Buddhist temple west of Bangkok has long been popular with tourists who paid about $20 each to get in and pose for pictures with its tigers, and to feed cubs and walk among them.
But the temple had come under mounting allegations of abuse and illicit wildlife trafficking and authorities armed with a court order raided it on Monday to confiscate the 137 tigers found there and take them to a government wildlife sanctuary.
“The jars have labels, so I think they’ve made medicine here,” said an official. Authorities found 20 glass jars containing baby tigers and tiger organs in a laboratory of the temple, reinforcing suspicion it was making folk medicine.
Thailand has long been a hub for the illicit trafficking of wildlife and forest products, including ivory. Exotic birds, mammals and reptiles, some of them endangered species, can often be found on sale in markets.