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Places in Thailand..

WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 33843 [post_author] => 52 [post_date] => 2015-01-28 06:17:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-01-28 06:17:48 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_33845" align="aligncenter" width="654"]Thailand Tiger Temple - by Ruchika Vyas The Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi. Pic: Ruchika Vyas.[/caption] ONE of the most controversial ‘tourist attractions’ in Thailand, the tiger temple has been the subject of debate for many years. This is what I found on my visit to the ‘sanctuary’... The tiger temple tour at Kanchanaburi, a few hours away from Bangkok, I was told was a popular tourist attraction. Which is barely a surprise seeing how obsessed the world is with selfies and being a popular figure on social media. I suppose a picture clicked cuddling with a tiger is sure to garner numerous ‘Facebook likes’. But the purpose of my visit was to find out what the tiger temple was really about. Known to be a monastery cum sanctuary, the tiger temple (also known as Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua) received its first cub in 1999 when it was rescued from poachers. That cub died soon after, but since then, many cubs have found a home here, while many have been born here as well. Until last year, there were said to be almost 122 tigers living here. But the temple has been at the centre of controversy for several years. Rumours of the tigers being sedated, ill-treated and even being trafficked have been doing the rounds online. But I wanted to see it for myself.
Treatment of the tigers
After you have paid a hefty fee of THB500 (US$15.30) to enter the premises, you sign a waiver essentially claiming that the temple will not be held responsible should you get mauled by a tiger. Once you leave your life in their hands, you are taken to an open area flanked by a few trees under which the tigers are seated. I was saddened to see that the animals were chained to the ground. If the temple claims to provide these animals with a sanctuary where they can roam freely, why put the animals on chains? I thought it was possible that they were chained to protect the tourists, but that was not the case. The tigers were chained in the ‘Tiger Canyon’ as well — an area where they should be able to roam freely. The tigers also appeared to be sedated as most of them were lying about without much movement. When asked as to why they were so inactive, we were told they had just eaten lunch. What was worse is how they were treated by the staff. Many of the staff members were pulling the tiger’s tail or hitting them hard with their hands and sometimes with sticks. Some were even found sitting on the tigers like they were a stool. All this just to ensure that tourists get the photo op they have paid for (there is a separate fee to pose sitting on the tiger’s back and feeding a cub through a milk bottle). If the temple’s goal is conservation of these animals, how is hitting them and forcing them into posing for photos with humans helping? It appears the animals are treated like circus clowns to appease the crowd that pays to see them perform. [caption id="attachment_33846" align="aligncenter" width="600"]The Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand. Pic: Ruchika Vyas. The Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand. Pic: Ruchika Vyas.[/caption] Later a monk walked by with a tiger on a leash and asked the tourists to form a line and walk with him holding the tiger’s leash till the ‘Tiger Canyon’. At the canyon one of the staff members explained how they take care of the tigers and then urged us to come into the canyon for more photo ops. This of course has an additional cost attached.
The goal of the temple
The temple claims that all donations made are used for the conservation and breeding of these animals so that some day they can return to the wild and live in their natural habitat. In that case, how does it help them to interact with humans in this manner? Keeping the animals in captivity will only add to their aggression and their desire to lash out at those who cause them harm. And if such an incident occurs, one only blames the animal and not the one who caused him to lash out. While I understand that conservation of animals is not easy without the required funds and so the temple is finding an alternate way to acquire money by promoting this as a tourist attraction. But I do believe that if they truly care about the welfare of the animals, then they would treat them humanely and not as show puppets to earn money. Have you visited the tiger temple? Share your thoughts and observations below. Follow Ruchika on Twitter - @ruchika83 [post_title] => Thailand's Tiger Temple — a conservation project or a tourist trap? [post_excerpt] => ONE of the most controversial ‘tourist attractions’ in Thailand, the tiger temple has been the subject of debate for many years. This is what I found on my visit to the ‘sanctuary’, writes Ruchika Vyas [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => thailand-kanchanaburi-tiger-temple [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-01-28 07:39:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-01-28 07:39:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.travelwireasia.com/?p=33843 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )

Thailand’s Tiger Temple — a conservation project or a tourist trap?

Thailand’s Tiger Temple — a conservation project or a tourist trap?
January 28, 2015 - 0 Comments - Ruchika Vyas

ONE of the most controversial ‘tourist attractions’ in Thailand, the tiger temple has been the subject of debate for many years. This is what I found on my visit to the ‘sanctuary’, writes Ruchika Vyas

In pictures: The waterways of Bangkok

In pictures: The waterways of Bangkok
September 9, 2014 - 0 Comments - Ben Cowles

BANGKOK goes by many names and appellations, depending on who is speaking and how they feel about the city. The Thais call their capital Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, meaning something along the lines of ‘City of Angels’. However that name is merely an abbreviation. Bangkok’s official title would probably take most readers half a year…>

On safari: Animal trips with a difference around Asia

On safari: Animal trips with a difference around Asia
August 6, 2014 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

FOR a chance to travel to less touristy areas in Asia and encounter wildlife, nature and local life, an animal safari is an excellent option. Elephant, camel and horse safari operators exist in places as varied as the Inner Mongolian steppe, Thailand’s northern mountains and India’s desert sands and their itineraries provide the chance to…>

Visa enforcement tightens for tourists and expats in Thailand

Visa enforcement tightens for tourists and expats in Thailand
July 21, 2014 - 0 Comments - Casey Hynes

THE days of ‘border runs’ in Thailand are coming to a swift end. Immigration is putting a stop to these brief overland trips in and out of neighboring countries, popular among long-stay travelers and tourists who want to extend their time in the country. Even those on valid tourist visas may be denied entry if immigration officials suspect feel they are spending too long in the country or working illegally.

Thailand lifts curfew in Phuket, Pattaya and Samui

Thailand lifts curfew in Phuket, Pattaya and Samui
June 3, 2014 - 1 Comments - Travel Wire Asia

THAILAND’S military junta has lifted a curfew at three popular beach resorts but said the restriction imposed after its May 22 coup will stay in place for the rest of the country, including the capital, Bangkok.

On the road: The best two-wheel adventures in Asia

On the road: The best two-wheel adventures in Asia
June 2, 2014 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

FOR a chance to really get off the beaten track, feel the wind in your hair and explore some of Asia’s most beautiful regions, a motorbike is really the vehicle of choice. With options to buy or rent in many countries, it’s also often a cost effective means of getting around and leaves you plenty…>

In pictures: The Buddhas, temples and monasteries of Asia

In pictures: The Buddhas, temples and monasteries of Asia
February 10, 2014 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

FROM enormous Buddha statues to monasteries perched on cliff tops or located in remote valleys, Buddhism plays a huge role across Asia.

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