Network of Thai Non Governmental Organizations on Natural Resources and Environment on the raids and confiscations at the Tiger Temple
June 10th, 2016
Referring to the actions of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants (DNP) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment at the Tiger Temple from the 30th of May till the 4th of June, resulting in the confiscation and movement of 139 tigers and other protected wild animals that were kept against Thai laws, from the Tiger Temple in Sai Yok, Kanchanaburi Province to facilities of the government, we would like to make the following statement;
The Thai Non Governmental Organizations Network would like to express our appreciation for the way the DNP and other involved agencies have handled the situation, removed the wildlife in a professional way and further investigated and discovered evidence suggesting serious issues of wildlife possession and trafficking as been reported in the media. We are hereby request that the DNP and relevant authorities will press charges against the alleged wrongdoers to the full extent, showing that authorities are serious in tackling the illegal wildlife possession and trade in Thailand.
However, besides the appreciation mentioned above, the Network of Thai Non Governmental Organizations on Natural Resources and Environment would like to express some concerns about the following points;
For the tigers that have been moved from the temple to Khao Son and Khao Prathapchang wildlife breeding centers of the DNP we feel that long-term animal welfare standards and a limited financial budget are of great concern, possibly resulting in an insufficient care.
We therefor would see it favorable to have the DNP allow assistance from and cooperation with Non Governmental Organizations who are ready to help and have experience in caring for wildlife, this under the supervision and leadership of the Department of National Parks. For example an option would be to turn the Tiger Temples premises, after finishing legal procedures and repossession of the land, into an (big) cat education and conservation center as lots of expensive facilities have already been built there. An upgrade of facilities could be implemented to provide a facility up to International standard. Other option are also taken into account.
The discovery of evidence at the tiger temple suggesting illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife parts is that of crimes with profits comparable to the international trade in weapons and drugs. We hereby request to authorities and government to seriously investigate and tackle the international illegal trade in wildlife in Thailand.
– Adjusting legislation by increasing penalties in both civil and criminal law.
– Prioritizing the investigation on wrongdoing in the tiger temple case, setting this case as an example, besides the illegal trade allegations, also on money laundering and corruption.
– Showing International leadership in the Mekong region on tackling the illegal wildlife trade by exchanging information and intelligence with other parties and strict enforcement against organized wildlife crimes.
– Increase financial and logistic support of agencies investigating and enforcing wildlife laws.
– Speed up improved legislation and ministerial laws on zoo standards and animal registration, with the main aim of transparency and the possibility of easy check-ups.
Nagpur: As delegates prepare for the 3rd Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation in Delhi, over 23 NGOs and bodies in the country want a commitment to zero demand for tiger parts in order to achieve zero poaching.
The Asia ministerial conference will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. More than 700 tiger experts, scientists, managers, donors and other stakeholders are gathering to discuss issues related to tiger conservation. Ministers and government officials from all tiger range countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russian Federation, Thailand, Vietnam, besides Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan are also participating in the meet.
This conference is being co-organized by ministry of environment, forest and climate change, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Global Tiger Forum (GTF), Global Tiger Initiative Council (GTIC), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), WWF and Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT).
“Conservation successes are visible in tiger range countries with enactment of strong laws and where wild tigers are valued for the role they play in the ecosystem, compared to those tiger range countries where ‘tiger farming’ exists and where they are valued as a commodity,” the NGOs said. “It is time for tiger range countries to unite in a commitment to end tiger farming and to end all domestic and international trade in parts and derivatives of tigers from captive facilities,” they said.
The signatories include Satpuda Foundation, Tiger Conservation And Action Trust (TRACT), Born Free, Conservation Action Trust (CAT), Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), Wildlife SOS India, Sanctuary Asia, The Corbett Foundation, BNHS India, Big Cat Rescue among others.
The NGOs have reminded the conference that many facilities that keep tigers are engaged in legal and illegal trade, both domestic and international, in parts and derivatives of tigers. There are estimated 7,000 tigers in captivity in tiger farms in South East Asia and China — and there are no signs that these facilities are being phased out.
Chinese government allows domestic trade in the skin of captive-bred tigers for use as luxury home decor and for taxidermy. This stimulates the demand and increases pressure on the world’s remaining 3,200 wild tigers.
“How can we expect demand-reduction campaigns to work in China if the government itself permits people to buy tiger skins,” the NGOs asked, adding tigers in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Russian Far East are still being targeted for markets in China and for Chinese consumers in Myanmar and Lao PDR.
There is also a thriving market in Vietnam and Indonesia. Tigers are not just killed for skin, but their bones are used to brew ‘tiger bone wine’, meat is sold as a delicacy and teeth and claws are sold as charms. “We collectively call on the conference to urge the countries with facilities which keep or breed tigers for trade to demonstrate genuine commitment to tiger conservation,” the NGOs demanded.
Pahrump, NV. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the nation’s premier legal advocacy organization for animals, was joined by PETA, and three reputable big cat sanctuaries, Lions, Tigers, & Bears (“LT&B”), and Keepers of the Wild, and Big Cat Rescue, in appealing the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission’s (RPC) issuance of a conditional use permit to Kayla Mitchell to keep ten tigers.
On November 12, the RPC voted 4-3 to issue the permit to Kayla Mitchell despite her role in the ongoing illegal exhibition of big cats and improper interstate transport of tigers without a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) license on behalf of Big Cat Encounters, a business that makes tigers available for direct contact and other exhibition in exchange for a fee. The groups argue that permit issuance to Kayla Mitchell is improper given that her husband, Karl Mitchell, their business, Big Cat Encounters, and their landlord, Ray “Flagman” Mielzinski, are currently under a Nye County District Court order to remove the tigers from Pahrump. The Mitchells refused to comply with the court’s order, issued following the county’s revocation of Karl Mitchell’s permit due to his violation of its conditions—including illegal exhibition of tigers without a USDA license.
ALDF, PETA, LT&B, Keepers of the Wild, and Big Cat Rescue have offered to rehome the big cats to reputable sanctuaries.
Two of Mitchell’s cats were sent to Big Cat Rescue back in the 1990’s. Founder, Carole Baskin said, “Two of the worst cases of physical abuse I have ever seen came from Karl Mitchell. Back in the 90s we rescued a black leopard, named Shaquille (photo above) and a cougar named Darla from him. When they arrived their faces were bloodied beyond recognition. Darla’s injuries resulted in a fungal infection of the brain that later killed her. Shaquille’s eyes constantly teared from the malformed healing of his skull. When my late husband called Karl to ask what had happened to them, he said Karl told him that he had to take a baseball bat to them and that’s why he didn’t want them any more.”
Big Cat Rescue’s policy for the last 18 years has been that if they take a cat it must either be a government confiscation or the owner must agree to never possess another cat.
“The Mitchells have played fast and loose with the law for long enough,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Instead of acting in the best interest of the cats they use as entertainment props, they continue to defy federal laws and a local court order meant to keep the animals and community safe. ALDF is calling upon Nye County Commissioners to reject the Mitchells’ latest attempt to circumvent the law, and overturn the permit that the RPC improperly issued.”
Nevada is one of six states (NV, AL, NC, SC, WI, IN) that currently does not regulate the private ownership of inherently dangerous animals. ALDF, PETA, LT&B, Keepers of the Wild, and Big Cat Rescue all advocate against the use of big cats for pets or entertainment, and have worked with localities in Nevada that aim to institute basic public safety and animal welfare measures.
Copies of the appeal are available upon request.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, ALDF files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), founded in 1980, is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than three million members and supporters. The organization’s mission statement provides that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or exploit in any way. For more information, please visit peta.org.
About Lions, Tigers, & Bears
Lions Tigers & Bears is a no kill, no breed, no sell rescue and educational facility that allows the big cats and bears in its care the opportunity to live out their lives with dignity in safe, species-appropriate habitats. The sanctuary, located on 96 acres outside of San Diego, Calif., is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), which recently awarded the Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence to LT&B Founder and Director, Bobbi Brink. For more information, please visit, lionstigersandbears.org.
About Keepers of the Wild
Keepers of the Wild, located approximately two hours east of Las Vegas in Valentine, Ariz., provides life-long care for more than 140 exotic and indigenous wild animals who were rescued, surrendered by an owner, or rehomed by other animal welfare agencies. The sanctuary is engaged in public education and collaborates with several organizations to help pass legislation aimed at curtailing the use of exotic animals in traveling circuses and exhibits. Keepers of the Wild has been the recipient of numerous commendations and awards from animal welfare groups and government agencies, including the Nevada Wildlife Federation and the Arizona Attorneys’ & Sheriffs’ Association. For more information, please visit keepersofthewild.org.
About Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue, located in Tampa, Fla., is a GFAS-accredited sanctuary for tigers, lions, and other exotic cats who have been rescued or confiscated from owners who can no longer care for them. Big Cat Rescue has emerged as a leading national voice in advocating for state and federal legislation to end the exploitation of big cats for entertainment and use as pets. The sanctuary pursues its vision of ending the exploitation of captive exotic animals and promoting legitimate species conservation by providing lifelong care to big cats and public education. For more information, please visit bigcatrescue.org.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500 USA
20th September 2015
Re: Why tigers belong on the U.S.-China agenda
Dear President Obama,
We, the undersigned, write to respectfully ask you to raise the issue of tiger trade with President Xi Jinping during his visit to the United States in September 2015.
We congratulate you on your leadership in the global fight against the poaching and trafficking crisis that is sweeping across Africa, threatening the survival of an estimated 420,000 elephants and 25,000 rhinos. Given that there are fewer than 3,200 wild tigers remaining across Asia, we appeal to you to ensure that they too urgently receive the highest levels of political and financial investment to end the
demand that is making them worth more dead than alive.
Tigers Killed for their bones, teeth, claws, penis and fur
One of the most critical threats to the survival of wild tigers is trade in their meat, skin and bones to satisfy demand driven by wealth, rather than health − for high-status food, drink, home décor and even investment assets. This demand is fuelled by a marked increase in tiger farms in China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, where tigers are intensively bred for trade in their parts and products. China alone claims to house more than 5,000 tigers on farms.
China is the main consumer market for tiger parts and products, and China’s State Forestry Administration has grown demand by supporting the expansion of tiger farms, allowing legal trade in skins from farmed tigers and approving farm wineries that make tiger-bone wine. Those actions have stimulated consumer interest in tiger products from all sources, undermining law enforcement, incentivizing poaching, and facilitating trafficking by organized criminal networks. Tiger-farm investors continue to push hard for full legalization of trade in tiger bones – the very trade China banned in 1993 because it threatened the survival of wild tigers. If trade were legalized, it would unleash a devastating demand that could quickly wipe out the last wild tigers, as the bones of wild tigers are far more valuable than those from captive tigers.
In order to ensure that tiger conservation remains a priority for the international community and to end tiger farming and tiger trade, we appeal to you to raise these issues with President Xi when he is your guest in Washington.
We also request the United States to take the following steps to compel China to take vital action:
1. Destroy all stockpiles of tiger parts and products and ensure deceased captive-bred tigers are incinerated so their parts cannot enter the black market;
2. Review the current certification of China under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Act and urge China to phase out tiger farms, as per Decision 14.69 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);
3. Encourage introduction and adoption of the Big Cats and Public Safety Act, so that the keeping and breeding of the more than 5,000 captive tigers in the United States can be phased down to include only the small number needed by legitimate zoos and conservation breeding programs, to set an example of best practice;
4. Ask China and Laos to address the trafficking and sale of tiger parts and products, ivory, rhino horn and other endangered species in and through Laos by Chinese and Laotian nationals; and
5. Encourage adoption of legislation that increases the capacity of the United States to assist in the international effort to combat illegal wildlife trade, ensuring that tigers are emphasized, along with elephants, rhinos and other species.
Zero poaching of tigers can only be achieved when there is zero demand. Therefore, we ask you to continue your leadership in tackling illegal wildlife trade by seeking an end to tiger farming in Asia and the keeping of thousands of unregistered captive tigers in the United States.
We thank you for your time and consideration.
Carole Baskin, Big Cat Rescue
Adam Roberts, Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation
Debi Goenka, Conservation Action Trust
Kedar Gore, The Corbett Foundation
Sally Case, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Debbie Banks, Environmental Investigation Agency
Iris Ho, Humane Society International / The Humane Society of the United States
Sean Carnell, National Tigers For Tigers Coalition
Kishore Rithe, Satpuda Foundation
Simon Clinton, Save Wild Tigers
Harshwardhan Dhanwatey, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust
Vicky Flynn, TigerTime
Belinda Wright, Wildlife Protection Society of India
Biswajit Mohanty, Wildlife Society of Orissa
For Return Correspondence
By Email: email@example.com cc JudithMills@eia-international.org
By Post: Judith Mills c/o Environmental Investigation Agency, PO Box 53343, Washington, DC 20009 USA
By Telephone: Judith Mills, (202) 674 4588
Twitter handles that might be useful:
White House Press Secretary
Sally Jewell, Secretary of the @Interior
Secretary of @StateDept
Director, White House Office of Environmental Quality (CEQ)
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology
News on the talks between President Obama and China’s Xi
An international group of 13 wildlife experts, in a letter released Tuesday, is asking Obama to mention another topic — the threatened extinction of the 3,200 tigers that remain in the wild in Asia.
If you attended National Geographic’s presentation by Steve Winter called On the Trail of Big Cats last night at the Straz you know just how awesome it was. Steve and his wife, Sharon Guynup, had planned to visit Big Cat Rescue while they were here performing at the Straz Center, but Sharon was called away on a story she is doing and they wanted to come together, so they are hoping to do so later in the year. They will be doing some work on the Florida Panther.
Some of you in the audience asked about what is being done about the captive crises for big cats in America and although the presentation did not focus on that, it is on their minds and in their plans. Sharon is an amazing writer and if you follow me on Facebook you will often see her articles.
Upcoming presentations by Steve Winter at: http://www.stevewinterphoto.com/Events/1/