Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Temple of the Tigers, bah humbug!!

There's an article today in Dagbladet online about the so-called Temple of the Tigers in Thailand. Basically about what a great travel destination it is. Yuck. People are so stupid. They saw this cute little old abbot guy on Animal Planet so whatever they read in the flyers they give out at that place must be true. Sheesh ... do some research!

Those tiger temple monks claim to be doing what they're doing with those animals (which are probably drugged to be so quiet around the tourists) because they love nature and animals are their spiritual brothers and shit like that. Yeah, the fact that they earn like $7000 a day on photo ops alone has nothing to do with it. And if those tigers are so calm and tame and friendly, why do they need to be chained up like that?

They claim to be involved in conservation work. That's an obvious glaring lie. Their supposed aim is to reintroduce tigers back into the wild, which NO ONE has succeeded in doing EVER. And these people, these impoverished [??] monks, they're supposed to be the first ones ever to manage that? That's just not going to happen, and if they knew anything at all they would know that. They breed the animals at their facility - and subspecies be damned! - and where all that money goes is anyone's guess as far as I can tell. Does it go towards protecting tigers in the wild which is the only place they should be protected at this point?? Who knows.

I could go on, but I won't.

Further reading.
And more here.


Aliquantulus said...

And here I thought I were a bitter old fart..
But since you obviously know everything, how is it that Lions have been introduced back to the wild, where as it hasn't been a success with Tigers?

Example of a Lion being introduced back into the wild:
(It's not like it has just been done, lions have been introduced back for decades!)

Leisha Camden said...

What's this, do I have a reader?? :-o

I don't know everything, you sarky old baggage ... I just never heard of a tiger being reintroduced into the wild - successfully, that is - EVER anywhere in the world EVER. Have you heard of that happening? If so, please tell me about it!

Is your question serious? Do I look like a professional Panthera tigris conservationist? How the hell should I know why no one's managed to reintroduce them into the wild?? Nah, it can't be a serious question. You can't genuinely be thinking that I can give you an answer to that question.

Because to be honest, that would be pretty dumb.

Here's an interesting tidbit for you: lions and tigers are different animals. Returning the one to the wild and returning the other to the wild are two totally unrelated questions.

I think you should have 'was' in that first sentence btw. It's 'if I were a bitter old fart', that would be correct ... but that's not what you're saying, so I think 'were' is wrong there. And 'whereas' is definitely in one word, always. Just a tip.

Thanks for the video, I didn't watch it! :-D Maybe someone else will one day, but I gotta warn you, I don't have a lot of readers on this thing. (Just FYI so you won't be getting too excited while you wait.)

Leisha Camden said...

Here's another link for you, btw, since you left one for me.

Sounds charming, doesn't it?


Leisha Camden said...

I just discovered that Twingly, the blog search thing that Dagbladet online uses, has linked my blogpost to their article on its own initiative. So that must be how I got my reader. :-) Well ... disclaimer hereby added, I did not intend for this post to be linked to the Dagbladet article. No biggie that it is linked, but just so it's said, I didn't link it.

Anonymous said...

I dont think the monks does a bad thing just because they are making money on it...

Its not like they hunted the tigers down in order to bring them to their temple, and as u stated, its very hard to bring them back into the wild, so why not let the tigers live a happy life with people that takes care of them?

What do you suggest? Should they shoot the tigers instead?

Leisha Camden said...

'Its not like they hunted the tigers down in order to bring them to their temple' - are you sure about that?

Kidding, kind of. No, they in all likelihood haven't 'hunted them down'. I don't believe that anything like that has happened. But I do believe that there is a lot of convincing evidence that they have purchased and/or traded them. (There is a 'tiger farm' in Laos which seems to have had a number of dealings with the temple.) They seem to have traded older animals for cubs (the abbot is on record as saying that he 'likes to always have some cubs around for the tourists') and to have purchased some as well. To trade endangered animals across borders in this way, a permit is required. The temple does not have such a permit. So that's one illegal thing they're doing - and it is in fact illegal for a reason.

I'm not saying that these people are doing a bad thing 'because they are making money on it'. I'm saying that I think they're doing a bad thing. For a number of reasons. But whether they make money off it or not doesn't really come into it.

But I do think that it's wrong that they're making money off it ... because they're making that money on false premises. Earning money fraudulently is wrong, IMO.

Just to sum up why I feel this way - the good things I've heard about this place comes either from its own propaganda (which can be discounted) or from people who have visited the place as tourists. The bad things I've heard about it comes either from people who have worked there as volunteers or from organizations that have done research on the place. The things they've discovered are really unpleasant. And those things weigh much more heavily in my estimation than the propaganda and tourist stories.

Should they shoot the tigers instead? No, they should hand them over to Thai authorities so that they can be relocated to a more appropriate facility. (As far as I know, one has been offered, but the offer has not been accepted.) They also should not be breeding the animals when - by their own admission, since they claim to need to expand by building their vaunted 'Tiger Island' (which is taking just about forever) - they don't have enough room as it is. And they should NOT be taking the cubs away from their mothers way too soon so that the females will be more accessible as display animals.

And obviously none of the temple animals will ever be able to make it in the wild, even if that were possible - as far as I can tell, these people are doing their utmost to make their tigers totally incapable of ever making it in the wild.

The whole point is that I question whether these animals do live 'happy lives' and I don't think that those people are taking good care of them. There is evidence that tigers are routinely mistreated at the temple. And how could the monks care for them properly, anyway - they do not have the education and training to do that job. They aren't qualified to be doing what they're doing. So I don't think they should be doing it.

And I don't think that the animals are living the happy lives that you seem to imagine. I think they're living very unnatural lives. I think that these animals could have been protected and money raised to make that happen even if they were given totally different lives from what they have. Could have - but a different choice was made. I cannot and will not respect that. Sorry.

I really would recommend that you do some further reading about this place.

Anonymous said...

You should go there sometime.. Drugged tigers and greedy monks, huh? I`m sure you got a lot of knowledge about introducing tigers back into the wild, then? I`ve been to the temple of the tigers , by the way. Do you know how much money a place like that needs, just to pay the bills? I guess you don`t. And next time you choose to blog about something you abioulsly know nothing about, try a different approach..

Leisha Camden said...

I don't have a lot of knowledge about reintroducing tigers into the wild, no - I mainly just know that it's never been done successfully. Please tell me what more I, as someone who will never have anything to do with any kind of tiger reintroduction program, need to know about the matter. (J/k, no need to tell me anything more about anything. We obviously will never agree anyway.)

I'm sure you don't think that making animals as used to humans and human contact as possible is helpful to their chances of making it in the wild. Because that would clearly be a false assumption. If someone wants to return animals to the wild, then they will have as little direct contact with them as possible. Ie, these monks do not want to return their animals to the wild. And they crossbreed subspecies. How is this conservation??

The fact that you've visited this place doesn't really mean that you know everything that goes on there or how it's really run, does it. Have you done research into the matter for two years? Have you sent educated experts there to evaluate the place? Have you interviewed volunteers who have worked there? Have you been in contact with Thai authorities?There are people who have done all those things.

I don't know exactly how much money that place costs to run, no. I am doubtful in the extreme as to whether you know it yourself. Again, people who know what they're doing have looked into this. I trust them more than I trust you.

The last sentence of your comment I'm afraid I really don't understand. It's clearly incorrect that I know 'nothing' about this issue. Since I've written one post and three rather long comments about it, I must obviously know 'something'. Be that as it may. I don't get whatever other approach would be available to me if I were to write about, say, key lime pie, or ... Wes Anderson's mother ... or, um ... something else that I genuinely don't know anything about. The man who invented Scotch tape. (I'm assuming it was a man, so now you can slam me for being sexist too. Two birds with one stone, alright!) 'Try a different approach'. Huh. Your words make so little sense to me. Confused now ...

Please return to the front page of my blog and read the disclaimer. Then maybe you should go start your own blog where you can write about your opinions ... and I will continue to write about mine here.

Anonymous said...

First post here. And last.

I have no idea how the munks really treat the tigers or anything, but handing them over to the Thai government... that has to be the joke of the day. Sure, hand them over, let them be "wild animals" in huge pens running round having the "time of their life" in captivity, but find someone that are suited to really take care of them the right way then, and not just make them part of a bigger tourist trap.

Honestly, if the tigers had to be removed from the munks, they would be better off living with Sigfried and Roy, than anything assosiated with the Thai government. (seen and read a little to much on how animals are treated in those government supported places. Oh well enough of that.)

As for the removal of the tigercubs at an early age - from what I've seen/heard this is also a common practice in zoo's all over the world when it comes to big cats.. It's apparently done to be able to better keep an eye on the little ones health. Also animals in captivity that are bottlefed/raised by humans show less signs off stress later in life when it comes to interactions with humans.. At least that is what they say. *shrugs*

This was just my ten cents, no need to give me a reply as I probably never will drop in here again.. Unless you are linked to again from Dagbladet.

Leisha Camden said...

OK, so ... different anon from the first anon. I mean, since this last one can spell so much better? And isn't slamming me so hard. And here I was totally expecting to be slammed ... ;-)

Removing the cubs from their mothers because it's better for their health, that's possible - although of course mother's milk is almost always better for a baby, 99% of the time - but when these people are saying that their goal is conservation and to return the animals to the wild, then I question the value of making them as used to interaction with humans as possible. A tiger mother who's thoroughly imprinted on humans can't teach her cubs to live in the wild.

Living with monks, living with Siegfried & Roy ... tigers attack their keepers and other humans regardless of where they're kept. So I personally am not convinced that it's a good thing for these animals to be tended by unqualified personnel in close proximity with, among other things, young children (who notoriously behave unpredictably). It's a matter of time before something really tragic happens. Like when that little boy was killed by a tiger in a photo op in a zoo in Japan ... and that animal was much more securely restrained than these temple tigers are.

Living in captivity will NEVER give them 'the time of their life' as you call it. That won't happen for them wherever they live. That ship has sailed for these animals, they will never be completely fulfilled. But they may be given a life in optimum conditions within the limits set by their captivity. They don't have that now as far as I can see - living exclusively on chicken, all this human interaction, being touched and 'cuddled' by strangers (a LOT of strangers) for hours a day ... it's a very unnatural life for these animals and with the money coming into this place (based on the calculations I've seen, and I'm sure that they could manage to raise a good part of that money even without giving people photo ops with the animals) they could do it in other and better ways.

Oh well, you allegedly won't see this anyway, but thanks for a sensible comment. I'm sure I will be linked to from Dagbladet again, since they link up on their own initiative now apparently. And as many stupid articles as that rag manages to publish I really can't promise to never write about one again ...

Anonymous said...

With regards to the notorious Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand - following complaints from tourists and volunteers about tigers being mistreated, international wildlife charity Care for the Wild recently undertook an intensive two year investigation. Their report reveals evidence of illegal wildlife trade, animal cruelty, false conservation claims and visitor safety risks at the Temple.

You can read the report at: http://www.careforthewild.com/projects.asp?detail=true&I_ID=580&mypage=Reports

This issue has widespread media coverage:

CWI's press release - "Illegal tiger trade, cruelty and human health hazards at famous tourist destination":

"Black market tigers linked to Thai Temple, Reports says"
National Geographic News, 20 June 2008:

"Thai tiger temple a con job, says wildlife group"
The Straits Times, 21 June 2008:

"UK wildlife group slams Tiger Temple"
Bangkok Post, 27 June 2008:

"Danish tour operator boycotts well-known Thai tourist attraction"
ScandAsia Denmark, 7 July 2008:

Canada: CBC National News, 9 July 2008:

"Danes join boycott of tiger temple"
The Nation, 11 July 2008

"New report says Thai Temple misleads visitors, abuses tigers"
Ethical Traveller, July 2008:

"Paradise Lost"
The Star, 15 July 2008

Spiegel article (in German):

Additionally, Animal Planet TV channel have now dropped their programme on the Temple.

Leisha Camden said...

Wow, a really serious and knowledgeable comment on this. Seriously: Wow.

Thank you, Anon!! It's appreciated.