Tigers seized from controversial Thai Buddhist temple

media captionMonks at the temple have been accused of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse

Wildlife authorities in Thailand have begun removing tigers from a Buddhist temple, after accusations of wildlife trafficking and animal abuse.

Three of the 137 tigers at the temple in Kanchanaburi province were moved on Monday. The 1,000-personnel operation will last all week.

The monks, who deny all allegations, resisted at first but gave in when presented with a court order.

The tigers are being taken to animal refuges, authorities said.

image sourceAFP
image captionAnaesthetic syringes were prepared by veterinarians as they got ready to remove the tigers from an enclosure
image sourceAFP
image captionWildlife officials carried the tigers on stretchers after they were anesthetised
image sourceEPA
image captionThe Buddhist temple in Kanchanaburi province west of Bangkok is a popular tourist destination
image sourceReuters
image captionThe animals will be taken to three government animal refuges across Thailand

The Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Tiger Temple, a popular tourist destination, has for years resisted official efforts to take away the animals.

Visitors are able to feed the animals and take photographs for a fee, despite the temple being banned from charging admission fees or money.

"We have a court warrant this time, unlike previous times when we only asked for the temple's co-operation, which did not work," Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks told AFP.

image sourceAFP
image captionThe temple recently made plans to operate as a zoo, but proved unsuccessful when the government determined that the operators failed to secure sufficient resources
image sourceReuters
image captionAnimals rights groups accused the temple of being involved in the black-market animal trade

Monks at the controversial temple have been accused of illegally breeding tigers and animal trafficking.

A previous raid in February 2015 revealed jackals, hornbills and Asian bears kept at the sanctuary without the necessary permits.

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