Forty dead tiger cubs were found in a freezer of a Thailand tiger temple in western Kanchanaburi province with monks are being held responsible for illegal trafficking.
Bangkok Post reports that the tiger cubs were found in a freezer where the food is kept. All of them were estimated to be a week old.
Six hornbills, a lion, a Binturong – protected species known as a bearcat, were also found along with the carcasses of the cubs. They were discovered when wildlife authorities came to the temple to relocate 137 tigers brought up at the temple.
“We don’t know why the temple decided to keep these tiger cubs in the freezer,” said Anusorn Noochdumrong, an official from the Department of National Parks in a report by Fox News.
“We will collect these carcasses for DNA analysis.”
The authorities on Wednesday checked up the temple’s kitchen. They also found internal organs of other animals in jars.
Earlier, the temple has been accused of selling missing tiger cubs to the black market. Animal rights activists also accused the temple of not caring for the animals and defied of restricting tigers’ trade.
Over the allegations, the temple said that it does not sell tiger cubs to a black market. They claim that the mortality rate of newborn tiger cubs at the temple is very low; much lowr than the general mortality of 40%.
“Cubs do occasionally die for various reasons, most often when a new mother lacks the experience to properly care for them. In the past, as per Buddhist customs, these tiger cubs were cremated.” the temple wrote in a Facebook post.
“In 2010, the ex-vet of Tiger Temple changed this policy. Instead of cremation, the deceased cubs were preserved in jars or kept frozen,” it added.
Authorities have decided to file criminal charges against the temple for keeping the endangered species.
Now the DNA analysis will decide whether the tigers belonged to 137 tigers or were brought from any other place.