Edit Blog Post
Published: September 25th 2012
The next part of our tour was to a buddhist temple, commonly called Tiger Temple. According to Lily, about 15-20 years ago, the head monk was known for being an animal lover, and offering sanctuary to animals from the surrounding villages. A soldier, familiar with the area came across a village close by in Burma. The Burmese have problems with rebels who grow drugs like heroin to fund access to weapons. As a result they are heavily involved in rural areas. They have a superstitious belief that Tiger claws will make their skin harder, to the point of being impervious to swords and bullets, so in these rural areas, Tigers are highly prized hunting targets.
The soldier who came across the village discovered they had recently killed a mother Tiger (apparently the care and devotion they give to their children makes them even more prized). In addition to the already dead mother, there was a female tiger cub. The villages planned to stuff her, and had even started to inject her with preservatives while still living (in order to get the freshest stuffed tiger). The soldier spoke to them about buying the tiger cub from them to spare it, but
the villagers asked him what would he do with it. He told them about the buddhist monk just over the border who looked after animals and asked the villagers to hold off killing the cub until he had a chance to speak with the monk.
After speaking with the monk, the monk visited the village and offered them rice in exchange for the tiger, to which the village agreed. The monk was born in the year of the Tiger and believed it was his duty to look after the cub. The cub was relocated to the temple. As a result of internal damage caused by the injected preservatives, the cub was sickly and didn't live a full life (15 years in the wild, around 20 in captivity), news of the cubs rehoming spread to other soldiers and before anyone knew it, cubs started arriving for shelter.
Tiger temple now has 105 tigers in varying ages. They are mainly indo-chinese tigers, which are not as large as sumatran tigers, but are still very big. The problem for the monks though, is how to care for these tigers? It costs around $2000/day to look after the tigers and the sum
is raised by allowing in tourists to spend time with them. In addition to the funds from tourists and the monks, there are local staff who look after the tigers, and even westeners who either are temporary help, or permanent help.
There are two programs for visitors. The normal program is on an afternoon and tourists from all over may visit and have various pictures taken with a Tiger for 1000 Baht, about £20, as well as a 600Baht entrance fee. In addition, during the morning, Thai locals are allowed into the temple and a limited number of tourists are allowed in on a 'VIP Morning Program' which costs 5000 Baht (£100). From what I have read, the afternoon program is very tourist heavy and by then the tigers are all worn out, so spend most of the time sleeping in the afternoon heat. The morning program, while more expensive offers extremely good value for money as the smaller group get to spend much more time with tigers, and are allowed unlimited photos with the tigers. The next post will talk about what we did on the morning program.
Tot: 2.818s; Tpl: 0.048s; cc: 10; qc: 47; dbt: 0.0377s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb