Police stop truck carrying two tiger skins from Thai temple

Police stop truck carrying two tiger skins from Thai temple

Thai police have stopped a truck carrying two tiger skins and other animal parts as it was leaving a Buddhist temple where monks have been accused of being involved in illegal wildlife trafficking.

Police said that two temple staff members in the truck were arrested and charged with possession of illegal wildlife.

He said a monk travelling with them will be arrested once he is defrocked.

The discovery comes a day after 40 dead tiger cubs were found in a freezer at the temple.

Authorities have been transferring the temple's 137 tigers to animal shelters after obtaining a court order.

The temple is a popular tourist attraction that charged admission for visitors to take photos with tigers.

The truck was also carrying more than 700 vials containing tiger skin as well as many tiger teeth hidden in a suitcase, said Teunchai Noochdumrong, director of the government's wildlife conservation office. Such vials are typically used as good luck charms.

Following the discovery of the dead cubs, officials decided to search all vehicles and people going in and out of the temple, she said.

"I am quite shocked," Ms Teunchai said. "We all have heard concerns and allegations about this temple. I would never have thought they would be so blatant."

An adult tiger skin can fetch anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 US dollars (£4,150-£6,925), according to Steve Galster, the director of Freeland, an organisation that fights wildlife trafficking.

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