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All you need to know about the Tiger Temple of Thailand

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Image Source:Youtube.org

By Pragya Jha

Image Source: wikimedia commons
Image Source: wikimedia commons

Located in Sai Yok District of Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province, the temple is not very far from the border with Burma, some 38km northwest of Kachnaburi. It charges admission fee.

In 2015 the temple was cleared from the allegations of mistreatment of animals as per the investigation conducted by Wildlife officials and a raid by Thai soldiers.

Tigers

The temple received its first tiger cub in the year 1999.Villagers found that cub and handed over it to the temple. However, the cub died soon after. After that several tiger cubs were given to the temple. The no of tigers residing in the temple are 150 approx. as of January 2016.

The DNA data of the original eight tigers which were rescued is incomplete and therefore it is unavailable to public. The origin of these tigers is not known but it is assumed that they are Indochinese tiger, except Mek. Mek is a pedigree of Bengal Tiger. It is possible that some may be the cross breed or hybrid of Malyalan Tigers.

Issues and Controversy

An organization called Care for the Wild International alleged the temple of being involved in clandestine exchange of tiger with the owner of tiger farm in Laos. It is claimed that it operates tiger breeding facility without a license that is required under the Thai Wild Animals Reservation and Protection Act of 1992.

According to the founder of Wildlife Friends of Thailand, the temple’s functions violates CITES (An international treaty to which Thailand is signatory). Under its laws CITES bans the commercial breeding of protected wild animals. All previous attempts by authorities to remove tigers from the temple have failed because of the influence created by the temple and its abbot, Phra Wisutthisarathen.

Based on the report of Care for the Wild International, a coalition of 39 conservative groups which included the Humane Society International, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, World Animal Protection and World Wide Fund For Nature sent to the director general of National Parks of Thailand under the name of “The International Tiger Coalition” urging the director general to take action against the temple for importing and exporting of 12 tigers with Laos. The letter concluded that the tiger temple does not have the facilities and skills neither it has relationships with accredited zoos. It also claims that the temple does not desire the tigers to manage in appropriate fashion and is encouraged purely for profit.

In December 2006, employees of ABC news spent three days in the temple and didn’t found any evidence of mistreating or drugging the animals.

On 2 February 2015 an official investigation was conducted by the Forest Officials. They were initially sent away by the temple authorities and were returned the following day with warrant, soldiers, and policemen.  The officials seized the wild birds and impounded the tigers. The head of Wildlife Crime Suspension stated that park did not have the permit for raising birds.

In 2016 two reports were issued  regarding the mistreatment and abuse of tigers in Tiger Temple.

Pragya Jha is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in New Delhi.Twitter:pragya1527

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Thailand’s Election Date Set For Late March, Fiver Years After The Coup

On Tuesday, Thanathorn told VOA the election was just a small first step in what would be a protracted struggle to wrestle power

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Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures the Thai way shortly after accepting the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits' hosting and chairmanship for next year in Thailand from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in Singapore, Nov. 15, 2018. VOA

Nearly five years after the military stormed to power in yet another coup, Thailand has finally announced an official election date scheduled for late March.

It comes with mounting defiance to the army’s tight control over freedom of expression, as activists and artists increasingly risk the threat of jail to publicly demand a ballot.

Thai Election Commission Chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong told a press conference Wednesday the date had been set for March 24.

“That is the date, which is flexible enough and should be beneficial to everyone concerned. That is the main reason why we decided to choose that date,” he said.

February date

Public frustration flared when it recently was announced the long promised vote would be delayed for a sixth time because of concerns the Feb. 24 scheduled date could conflict with King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s coronation in May.

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Activists and university students gather to demand the first election in Thailand, since the military seized power in a 2014 coup, in Bangkok, Jan. 8, 2019. VOA

That excuse had perplexed many, given that pushing the date back would bring it into even closer conflict with the coronation.

A group of arch royalists staged a demonstration directly outside the Election Commission to protest the pre-coronation ballot date immediately after it was announced Wednesday.

Wide field of parties

A particularly wide field of smaller parties now is set to contest the election in a political environment that has opened somewhat since the junta relaxed wide-ranging bans on political activities in December.

It will still be a democratic election, however, that comes with many autocratic caveats enshrined in the constitution Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha imposed after he seized power from Yingluck Shinawatra’s elected government in 2014.

Major concerns include the military being able to virtually hand pick the entire 250-person Senate. Future governments also will be locked into a legally binding 20-year junta-devised development plan covering everything from national security to social equality.

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Messages from activists demanding quick elections to end military rule is pictured at a university in Bangkok, Jan. 19, 2019. VOA

Military retains control

Paul Chambers, a political analyst and lecturer in Thailand’s Naresuan University, said the military also would retain significant control over its budgets after the election through a constitution that also allowed for an unelected prime minister.

“So, there is a democracy, there are elections, but when people say, ‘Oh, Thailand’s going back to democracy,’ it’s not the same quality of democracy that used to exist,” he said.

A very powerful military that could appoint people to positions in the army previously overseen by the elected prime minister would remain behind the scenes, Chambers emphasized.

In October, incoming Royal Thai Army commander Gen. Apirat Kongsompong refused to rule out yet another coup after the election.

Thailand has had 19 attempted coups and 12 successful ones since 1932.

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A Buddhist monk and a patient sweep the yard at Wat Thamkrabok monastery in Saraburi province, Thailand, Feb. 3, 2017.

Rival parties

In addition to the Pheu Thai party aligned with ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and longtime rivals the Democrats, the pro-military Palang Pracharat Party will compete with several smaller parties.

One that has attracted considerable interest is the progressive and diverse team that has united behind 40-year-old billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s Future Forward.

Also Read: Calm Settles Over Congo After Election Result

On Tuesday, Thanathorn told VOA the election was just a small first step in what would be a protracted struggle to wrestle power from those who had controlled the wealth and power of the country for decades.

“So, if you want to correct what’s wrong over the past decade, there’s only one way you can solve that. You tackle the root cause of the problems. That means you have to deal with these structures, with this group of people. I haven’t seen any politicians trying to do this before,” he said.

“Since 1932, since the democratic revolution happened in Thailand — it’s been 86 years — and we’ve still been only this far. I believe democratization in this country will not be completed in the next year or two,” Thanathorn said. (VOA)