Three years ago, 147 tigers were rescued from a temple in Thailand. The Buddhist temple located in the Kanchanaburi province became famous as the "Tiger Temple." The temple is located west of the country's capital Bangkok became a tourist attraction where visitors could pose and get themselves photographed with the big cats. There were allegations of mistreatment of the big cats by wildlife enthusiasts and the government had to intervene. CNN has reported that the tiger is classified as an endangered species by the World Wildlife Fund. It is reported that wildlife has been depleted by over 50 percent in the last 40 years.

Tigers rescued

In 2016, all the tigers were rescued from the controversial temple and relocated to other parts of the country. Now it's revealed that half of the rescued tigers died. A government press release confirmed the deaths. Two reasons were advanced for this sad episode. It appears that the tigers died due to respiratory disease and a Canine Distemper Virus. The last-named is supposed to be a highly infectious disease that affects dogs but it can also affect bigger animals like tigers and other species.

Another reason could be that most of the tigers were inbred. This was confirmed by Prakit Wongsriwattanakul, the director-general of Thailands's Department of National Parks. As per reports, 86 of the 147 rescued tigers died.

Death of tigers

The death of the tigers is a surprise, as the tigers were rescued were "fairly healthy." The tigers were taken from the temple and let loose in the government sanctuary in Ratchaburi province about 90 km south of the temple at Kanchanaburi. Many of the tigers were taken from the temple after they were sedated and then taken to the government sanctuary.

Despite the advice of knowledgeable persons, the tigers were kept caged and this was perhaps one of the reasons that the disease spread. Another reason could be a lack of knowledge about how to breed tigers. This was reported by the Washington Post.

In 2016, a furor was created when the remains of nearly 40 tigers were discovered in freezers at the temple.

The remains of some other animals like deers and binturong, a Southeast Asian bearcat, were also found. This immediately led to an investigation by the Wildlife Conservation Office. An agreement of 2001 allowed the temple to keep the tigers with the provision that they would not use them for profit or breed them. The government had to intervene as there were reports of some tourists being attacked by tigers while walking around.

Monks charged

The tigers were rescued and five monks were charged with possession of endangered animal parts. The wheel has now come full circle and the rescued tigers have lost more than half of their brethren. Perhaps the Thai government can take a leaf out of "Project Tiger " in India which has led to an increase in the tiger population.