Authorities were horrified to learn that a Thai monk and accomplices skinned more than 200 domesticated dogs, cats and cows, then painted them with tiger stripes to dupe faith seekers into buying the false holy charms.
According to reports, officials from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation raided the temple on February 12 on a tip from suspicious locals, and they seized 204 animal skins, including a crocodile skin, leopard skin and five other cat species. The remaining skins–which were believed to be tigers–were actually hundreds of domesticated dogs, cats and cows painted to resemble tigers.
Monks confessed to police that the temple abbot had planned to tattoo the pelts with religious writings, then pass them off as real tiger skins to sell as religious charms.
A director for the Department of National Parks told reporters, “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,”
He added that the demand for tiger body parts in the 2010 zodiac Year of the Tiger will heighten illegal activity to satisfy desperate buyers.