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No more Tiger Selfies

A few hours outside of Bangkok tourists can visit the famous “Tiger Temple”. This monastery and wildlife sanctuary, formally called ‘Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yanasampanno’ holds no less than 147 tigers and other animals. This will soon be a thing of the past.

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Nipon Chotiban, head of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the temple had been keeping the animals without a legitimate permit. The wildlife sanctuary raided the temple in February to investigate the circumstances. Chotiban sent an official notice to the temple soon after, ordering them to return the tigers to conservation areas or to local zoos. All of the tigers are due to be relocated on April 24, after which they will receive a health check.

Besides this, there will be an inspection of microchips, in order to see whether three reported tigers are missing.

The news comes as a big relief to conservationists in Thailand, who have been trying to free these tigers for years. They’ve accused the monks at the temple of breeding programs, trafficking of endangered species, and illegally selling the animals. The tigers have been chained up and trained to pose for photos with tourists since the temple first started housing them in 1999.

Earlier this month six bears were seized from the temple and in February birds of paradise were found (listed as endangered species).

Photo: A buddhist in Tiger Temple (ANP ©)

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Cat of the month

Borneo Bay Cat (Pardofelis Badia)

One of the world’s least-known and most endangered wild cats, the bay cat, has been photographed by Panthera grantees Jedediah Brodie (Universiti Malaysia Sabah/ University of British Columbia) and Anthony Giordano (S.P.E.C.I.E.S/Texas Tech University). Their photograph is the first record of this very elusive cat in the Borneo highlands, at 1460 meters (approximately 4,800 feet).

The records add to our very limited knowledge of the species, which was photographed alive for the first time only in 1998 and where most previous records are from dense lowland forest under 800 meters (approximately 2,600 feet).

Borneo’s bay cat is so elusive that it took over a century before researchers got a chance to study a live one in detail. Covered in striking, rust-red fur with white under the tail and face stripes, this cat was officially named in 1874 on the basis of a skull and torn skin sent to England by the famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. Naturalists didn’t have a chance to study a live one until a bay cat was captured in 1992, and the cat remains so difficult to find that researchers know very little about how this secretive cat actually lives. The fact that the cat is so difficult to find is all the more frustrating because conservationists list the felid as endangered. The deforestation of Borneo may wipe out the bay cat before scientists get a chance to find out more about it.

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