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Kanchanaburi . Part 3 / Tiger Temple

Elephants Village
Elephants Village
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Tiger Temple, or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, is a Buddhist temple in Western Thailand which keeps numerous animals, among them several tigers that can be petted by visitors.
The Theravada Buddhist temple is located in the Saiyok district of Thailand's Kanchanaburi province, not far from the border with Myanmar, some 38 km north-west of Kanchanaburi along the 323 highway. It was founded in 1994 as a forest temple and sanctuary for numerous wild animals. In 1995 it received the Golden Jubilee Buddha Image, made of 80 kilograms of gold.

According to the abbot and others associated with the temple, in 1999 the temple received the first tiger cub, it had been found by villagers and died soon after. The story goes that several tiger cubs were later given to the temple over time, typically when the mothers had been killed by poachers, others who wanted to get rid of their tiger "pets" or those were under pressure to do so as laws and policies surrounding the keeping of cites protected species became more strict. As of 2007, over 21 cubs have been born at the temple and the total number of tigers is about 12 adult tigers and 4 cubs.

The subspecies of these tigers is unknown as none of them have been DNA tested, but it is thought that they are Indochinese Tigers, except Mek (a Bengal Tiger). There is also a possibility that there may be some of the newly discovered Malayan Tigers and it is likely that many are cross breeds or hybrids.

They spend most of the time in cages, being fed with cooked chicken, beef and dry cat food. The meat is boiled to avoid giving the tigers a taste for blood [1] and also to kill the bird flu that may be present in raw fowl. According to the temple website the dry cat food replaces nutrients, such as taurine, that are lost when the meat is cooked.[2]

They are washed and handled by Thai monks, as well as local staff, and international volunteers. Once a day they are walked on leashes to a nearby quarry. Originally they would roam around freely in this area but now, with the increase in visitors and the amount of tigers who sit in the canyon, are chained. The staff closely guide visitors as they greet, sit with, and pet the cats. The staff keep the tigers under control and the abbot will intervene if the tiger gets agitated. Nervous tourists may also observe this from about 10 metres away. The temple claims the entry fee is for feeding and upkeep, and to fund the building of a larger tiger sanctuary which would allow the animals to live in an almost natural environment all day long.

The Tiger Temple practices a different conservation philosophy than in the west. The temple opens daily for visitors at about 12pm, and the tigers are walked back to their enclosures at around 4pm. Due to the pressing need for income, the temple now charges 500 Baht admission. Day trips are also available from Bangkok. The temple now receives 300 to 600 visitors a day. There are donations boxes in various locations around the temple for those who wish to support the sanctuary. It is also possible for day visitors to join the volunteers in the tigers morning exercise programme although the cost for this is significantly more.

Care for the Wild International (CWI) claims that the tigers at the temple are not rescued wild tigers, but are obtained by illegally trading with black market tiger farms. They say the real purpose is making money, not helping tigers. The groups also criticize the Tiger Temple for interbreeding different subspecies of tigers, which they say violates conservation principles. Abuse of tigers at the temple has been reported by some visitors and volunteers. Some locals assert that the temple's stated goal of building a new sanctuary has been repeatedly put back as moving the tigers to a more natural environment would disrupt their ability to charge for photo opportunities with them. The CWI report was released on 20 June 2008

فعاليتهاي صنعت گردشگري تايلند كاملا در خور توجه است و با بررسي نحوه عملكرد بخشهاي مختلف جامعه تايلند مي توان به بلوغ فكري مردم آن كشور اشاره داشت كه با درك عميق از اثرات مثبت اقتصادي جلب توريست به طور همه جانبه با يكديگر همكاري دارند. و نهاد هاي مذهبي تايلند هم با توجه به درآمد زايي اين بخش بطور تنگاتنگ با ساير بخشها به پيش مي روند و در اين مجموعه عكسها با معبد تازه احداثي اشنا شديد كه بر اساس اهداف اوليه براي حمايت از بچه ببرهاي بي سرپرست راه اندازي شد اما با حمايت مذهبي تشكيلاتشان گسترش پيدا كرده است و عملا در خدمت درآمدزايي براي توريسم منطقه درآمده است و اين معبد با قدمت حدود ده سال اكنون يكي از مكانهاي جذاب براي توريستها مي باشد و در كتاب لونلي پلانت بعنوان يكي از جذابيتهاي توريسم تايلند معرفي شده است. اما از طرفي به نكته مهمي بايد اشاره كنم . هنگامي كه وارد دره ببر ها شدم حيوانات را معاينه كردم و متوجه شدم تمام آنها معتاد هستند و براي آرام كردن آنها از نوعي ماده مخدر استفاده مي شود و هدف نيز كشاندن توريستها به اين منطقه است تا بتوانند در كنار ببر هاي درنده عكس بگيرند و آنها را در آغوش كشند اما در آغوش كشيدن ببر هاي معتاد فكر نمي كنم افتخاري داشته باشد

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