Posted on Facebook 23/06/2010
David Hargreaves 23 June at 06:04 Reply
Tiger Temple Truths has just received some important news via email from Edwin Wiek, the conservationist currently battling with the Tiger Temple in both legal and civil court cases concerning the animal abuse and illegal tiger trading taking place at the Tiger Temple.
Originally, founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) Edwin Wiek was due to appear in court for the legal case on June 28th - this is now won't be happening...
The prosecution lawyer has asked the police to extend the investigation further, due to evidence being uncovered that proves the tigers at the Tiger Temple are officially government property, after being confiscated by the Thai Department of National Parks several years ago.
Basically, the tigers at the Tiger Temple are not their property - they belong to the Thai government, who understandably are furious about the negative publicity the Tiger Temple is generating, and the fact that the Tiger Temple has been illegally using confiscated tigers to profit from.
It seems that the prosecutor fighting on the side of the Tiger Temple is growing increasingly uneasy as the evidence against the Tiger Temple is shown to him. With official DNP (Department of National Parks) documentation being included as evidence, the Tiger Temple have the right to be very worried!
We have learnt that the Director General of the DNP has ordered a ban on the movement of tigers from the Tiger Temple, effectively ensuring the halt of illegal trading - whether the Tiger Temple will adhere to this or ignore the DG's order remains to be seen.
The Director General is also now considering whether to remove the tigers from the temple completely. There are facilities within Thailand that it would now be possible to move the tigers to, so this may be an option, although a decision on this matter is likely to take time.
With positive progress in the legal case between conservationists and the Tiger Temple, we now look at the civil case - a case brought against Edwin Wiek and a Thai newspaper who printed Mr Wiek's statements on the Tiger Temple.
Mr Wiek stated in the newspaper that the Tiger Temple was involved in animal abuse, the illegal trading of tigers and that they offered no benefit to conservation - all claims he can support with evidence.
The Tiger Temple was originally suing Mr Wiek and the newspaper in Thai court for very large sums of money - money that might have ended up funding the forthcoming Pattaya branch of the Tiger Temple. Perhaps realising they have opened a can of worms, however, the Tiger Temple have now dramatically backed down, instead requesting an official apology from the newspaper and some free advertising. From Mr Wiek, the Tiger Temple would like an apology.
This is quite a change in direction. We suspect that due to the evidence mounting up against them, the Tiger Temple are looking for a quick and quiet conclusion to this civil case, hoping to brush the issues under the table, but that will not be happening.
Mr Wiek has exclusively told Tiger Temple Truths that this requested apology will not be given. Having ample evidence to back up his claims, apologising for publicising the truth and for stating the facts is not a route that will be taken, and Mr Wiek is determined to push this case as far forward as possible.
Tiger Temple Truths
A better explanation of the above case was published six months later at Animal People News but even that didn't reflect the truth or what the temple were up to. In fact David Hargreaves is Edwin Weik and this was part of a campaign to get himself off the hook. The reality at the temple was to stop people publishing malicious gossip about them. Prior to this time it was all accusations and innuendo about the tiger welfare and the long term plans, or lack of, of the temple. But Weik had pushed it too far and so had the Thai Post newspaper when they published an article citing Weik in which remarks were made about the temple staff including questions about the qualifications of Dr. Somchai, the temples in-house vet.
Even on a good day that was a pretty dumb thing to do in Thailand and claims that Weik was advised to counter sue but chose not to are not true. Counter suing would have involved him suing the newspaper as well and for undisclosed reasons he didn't want to do that.
I accidentally found myself in a unique position in that my, by then friend, Sybelle Foxcroft was asked by Weik and his defence to help him collate information damning to the prosecution and also for a tiger stripe analysis. Tigers have stripes in the same way we have finger prints so merely from photos you can accurately surmise if a cat is not the same cat as was Weiks defence. He had got this information from Sybelle who had good reason to persue this line of enquiry and although she and I have different agenda's Sybelle keeps me informed of developments partly because of a desire to share information but also I think she would like to pursuade me to change my opinion. I was also at that time having communications with the DNP who were keeping a very close eye on events at the temple. So while I was watching Weik squirm with fear, I was also entertained with what the temple were up to.
The temple never did ask for an apology from Weik. The court ordered that and the newspaper complied and the criminal case is still open. It is unlikely it will ever be closed because the evidence is so flimsy that the case cannot be heard. The case is also compromised by the stupid remarks and innuendo previously published by the CWI.
In actual fact what was happeneing at the time of this publication was that Weik was clutching at straws and being offered them by Sybelle and a couple of others all of whom Weik had at some time previously managed to properly insult and cast aside as finished with. Only now he needed them. His problem was compounded by Sybelle asking my advice which was simple, 'Say No'. He would have dragged her and her now cee4life foundation into the mire with him and she needed to be able to go back to Thailand without fear of prosecution for herself. Against my advice she still felt compelled to assist Weik but kept things close to her chest. That resulted in Weik making assumptions and telling his defence lawyers things such as "(the tigers were) confiscated by the Thai Department of National Parks several years ago". Which in fact, they were not. The tigers were in 2006 brought under the protection of the DNP to ensure the temple adequately cared for them. This was a kind of insurance policy to satisfy the complaints made by the CWI.
Far from being furious, the Thai Goverment had nothing to do with the case or the tigers, and the prosecuting lawyers advised the temple of the potential for adverse publicity of monks suing in a court. There was also the outstanding criminal case to be heard and it was not in the temple's interest to hinder that with a civil case preceeding any hearing.
"We have learnt that the Director General of the DNP has ordered a ban on the movement of tigers" this order was made in 2006 for the same reasons and "The Director General is also now considering whether to remove the tigers from the temple completely" is not true. That's completely made up and the DNP have never at any time considered removing the tigers from the temple. It would be impractical and would likely lead to the tigers suffering.
Posted by the CWI at the same time
Leading animal conservationist taken to court by Thai Tiger Temple
A leading advocate for wildlife conservation and welfare will appear in a Thai court at 10am on Tuesday 3rd February, charged with defamation by the Tiger Temple, a well known tourist attraction in Kanchanaburi.
Edwin Wiek, Founder and Director of Wildlife Foundation Friends of Thailand, a wildlife rescue centre near Hua Hin, has been charged along with two other conservationists over remarks in a news article in the Thai Post in April 2009. In the article, accusations were made concerning illegal possession of and trade in tigers at the temple, and animal torture. If convicted, he may face a custodial sentence.
Tourists flock to the Tiger Temple to have their photo taken with the tigers that are kept there, parting with anything from £10-£100 for the privilege. However, undercover investigations by British wildlife charity Care for the Wild International (CWI), carried out from 2005-2008, revealed evidence of tigers being regularly beaten with wooden sticks and clubs, having urine sprayed into their eyes and faces, being forced to sit in direct sunshine for hours on end, and being kept in poor conditions with inadequate feeding. CWI's 2008 report "Exploiting the Tiger" also uncovered evidence of illegal trade and breeding of tigers at the temple. Tigers are reported to be extremely lethargic during photo sessions, leading to concerns they may be drugged.
Examination of tiger images from the temple over recent years suggests that individual animals at the temple have come and gone over time, although no permit for this has ever been issued by the Thai Department of National Parks, Plants and Wildlife. The temple was declared illegal by the authorities in 2002, but without a suitable facility to take the tigers, the Thai authorities allowed them to remain in the temple's "care". A zoo license was issued for a piece of land adjacent to the temple in 2009, but to date none of the tigers have been moved there. Although the exact source of the tigers at the temple is unknown, all are thought to be hybrids, and as such they cannot be used in any conservation or rehabilitation programme.
"The arrest of Edwin Wiek is a travesty", said Mark Jones, Programmes Director at CWI. "The evidence shows the Tiger Temple has been abusing animals and trading illegally for years, in order to generate profits. Yet it is the conservationists who try and expose these activities who end up in the dock. That's why CWI is helping to fund Edwin's defence against the charges. We can only hope this helps to expose the Tiger Temple's false conservation claims."
For further information, please contact:
Campaigns and Media Manager
Care for the Wild International
So I did try contacting her. And she wouldn't talk to me.
I wanted to ask how much the WFFT is now charging the public to see the gibbons and to interract with them. I believe it is between £10 and £100...
I also wanted to ask if they concur with Weik over who did the striping as he denies it was cee4life and why CWI statements do not concur with Weik's?
I have tried many times to talk to the CWI on the phone but they do not like it and avoid any confrontation if they can. Especially when it is me because they know it will be awkward questions.