Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) successfully rescued twelve tigers and three leopards from an undisclosed tiger farm in northern Thailand. This rescue marks the first phase of the largest tiger rescue operation ever undertaken by a non-governmental organization in Thailand. The mission, which started on the 16th of December, aims to combat the illegal trade in wild animals and provide urgent medical care to captive big cats living in deplorable conditions.
With an estimated 1,700 tigers in captivity, Thailand faces challenges posed by the captive tiger industry. Many tigers are bred in so-called “tiger farms” for nefarious purposes, including selling the cubs to zoos and exotic pet owners or harvesting body parts for traditional purposes. Chinese medicine. Thailand’s geographical position contributes to the illegal movement of captive tigers across borders, making it a hotspot for illegal wildlife traders.
Government officials, accompanied by veterinary teams and wildlife experts from WFFT, raided the undisclosed tiger farm following legal action against alleged illegal wildlife trade. The initial phase involved the rescue of fifteen animals, mainly those in need of urgent medical attention. The rescue operation is challenging, with older tigers and sick leopards being sedated, given health checks, and carefully transported to special cages for transfer.
Among the rescued animals is Salamas, a twenty-year-old emaciated tiger. Due to his weak condition, the rescuers chose not to put him to rest, choosing to coagulate him in a transport cage with food. The rescue team, fearing that he might be too weak to walk, spent hours encouraging Salamas, who finally found the strength to enter the cage. Despite his dire physical condition, rescuers are hopeful of his recovery.
Other notable rescues include a shy female tiger named “A-1” and a twenty-year-old male tiger named Rambo, who was suffering from respiratory distress. These animals, who spent their lives in small, concrete cages, are now destined for a sanctuary where they can experience natural habitats for the first time.
Rescued tigers and leopards can find forever homes at WFFT’s Tiger Rescue Center, located in Phetchaburi. The sanctuary, which covers seventeen hectares of almost natural habitat, allows the animals to roam freely, socialize, and even swim in the lake. WFFT, which previously rescued tigers from a closed zoo during the pandemic, has expanded its facilities to accommodate the latest arrival, stressing the importance of providing a suitable environment for the rehabilitation of animals.
The undisclosed tiger farm, which has been embroiled in legal disputes with government wildlife officials for years, is suspected of being a hub for illegal wildlife trade. Located in northern Thailand, near the border with Lao PDR, the facility has faced numerous government visits, with evidence of wildlife trafficking discovered in previous inspections. Reports indicate that the facility will have 46 tigers and cubs by 2021, and its closure is imminent.
Edwin Wiek, founder and director of WFFT said, “After months of planning the largest tiger rescue by an NGO in the history of Thailand, we are happy that now these beautiful tiger animals have been given a new life. Rescue Center of WFFT. Unfortunately, they can’t go back to the wild, but we can offer them the next best thing: a safe, sanctuary where they can roam the jungle, interact with other tigers, and even swim in clear. We are grateful to the Thai government’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNP) for taking action against the illegal wildlife trade and for partnering with WFFT to help give tigers the second chance they deserve.
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