Dead tiger cubs are displayed by Thai officials after they were found during a raid on the controversial Tiger Temple,
Dead tiger cubs are displayed by Thai officials after they were found during a raid on the controversial Tiger TempleReuters

Thai authorities have recovered the carcasses of 40 tiger cubs from a controversial Tiger Temple that was urged to remove the animals following international pressure. The bodies were discovered during a raid in which authorities started taking away the 137 tigers after the Buddhist temple, in the Kanchanaburi province, was investigated for suspected wildlife trafficking and abuse.

The cubs were found in a freezer in a kitchen area, Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks, told Reuters. "They must be of some value for the temple to keep them. But for what is beyond me," he said.

Tiger body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The feline's bones are believed to strengthen the human body.

The monks at the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Tiger Temple deny any wrongdoing and have for years resisted any attempts to remove the animals. The temple, described by animal rights activists as "hell for animals", had become a popular destination where tourists were able to take pictures with tiger cubs and feed the animals.

It is believed authorities removed 52 live tigers, while 85 are still there. The animals will be relocated to animal refuges.

Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks, said his team had obtain a warrant to be able to confiscate the tigers. "We have a court warrant this time, unlike previous times, when we only asked for the temple's cooperation, which did not work. International pressure concerning illegal wildlife trafficking is also part of why we're acting now."" he said.