The recent discovery of a dozen tigers at a property in eastern Thailand serves as a reminder that tiger farming is still a threat to Southeast Asia’s wild tigers and an enforcement challenge for the region’s authorities.
According to TRAFFIC, authorities inspecting a premise in Khlong Kiu in Chon Buri province found a large pig farm where several species of protected wildlife were kept, including 12 Tigers.
Two local men allegedly claimed to be the owners of the property and produced questionable papers that could not be verified because the documents were issued by a government department that was no longer in operation.
The Wild Hawk Unit reported that some of the Tigers were juveniles, raising suspicions that the facility had been used for breeding and possibly trade.
“It’s a worrying discovery but we congratulate the Wild Hawk Unit and are glad to see Thailand deliver on an earlier promise to identify unlawful Tiger breeding facilities in the country,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.
In 2016, Thai authorities raided the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province that had been suspected of illegally breeding and trading tigers. Over 130 live tigers, more than 40 dead tiger cubs, tiger pelts, and 1,500 tiger skin amulets were among the wildlife products seized. The infamous tourist attraction was subsequently shut down.
Dead tiger cubs, deer horns, a bull skull are displayed at the June 2016 raid at the Tiger Temple.
An announcement has since been made regarding the intention to reopen the closed center as a zoo later this month with 24 new tigers, not far from the original location of the Tiger Temple.
Many have voiced suspicions concerning the motivates behind such a facility and have urged constant vigilance to prevent illegal breeding and trade of tigers to reoccur.
Tiger breeding fuels the illicit demand for their parts and undermines national and international law enforcement and conservation efforts to protect threatened wild populations.
Thailand, Laos, and several other Southeast Asian countries have long been under fire for failing to shut down facilities believed to be breeding tigers for trade in live animals and for their parts.
Apart from tigers, officers who raided the pig farm in Khammouane province also found 22 other animals threatened by hunting and trade for meat and medicinal purposes, raising concerns about the range of species that traders may be breeding to feed the illegal trade.