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Tiger pelts gone to the dogs

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Tiger pelts gone to the dogs | Thaiger

NAKHON RATCHASIMA: More than 200 tiger skins seized near Khao Yai National Park recently weren’t quite what they first seemed: examination revealed that the majority actually came from dogs and cows and had been painted with stripes.

The 204 animal pelts were seized from a temple in Pak Chong District by officers from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) on February 12.

The officers were acting on a tip-off from locals who saw a suspicious number of animal pelts being dried in Wat Simalai Songdhamma.

Initially the skins appeared to have come from tigers and other big cat species. There was also one crocodile skin. After being examined by experts, however, it was found that only the crocodile skin, one leopard skin and five skins from other cat species were real.

The almost 200 remaining skins were made by painting dog and cattle skins with stripes.

The monks at the temple claimed all the skins belonged to the temple abbot. The abbot was planning to tattoo the skins with religious writing and sell them as holy charms, his disloyal monks told the authorities.

DNP Director Jatuphon Burusaphat said it was unlikely that the abbot was working alone. His accomplices are now sought by local authorities.

“I want to warn people who like to buy religious items made from animal remains that this is not just illegal; they can also be conned. For example in this case they weren’t tiger skins, but dog and cow skins – if you worship them they will not bring good fortune. They are a cause of animal cruelty as well,” Mr Jatuphon said.

With the advent of the Year of the Tiger, attempts to smuggle tiger parts are likely to increase, he added.

 

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