Concern mounts over animal welfare in Thailand after hefty cut in feed budget
Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is complaining about a hefty cut in budget for animal feed, from about 90 million baht annually to just 10 million baht this year, but promises that it will do its best to keep about 26,000 animals in captivity fed.
Director of the Wildlife Conservation Division Sompong Thongseekhem said the 10 million baht budget for animal feed is barely enough for the animals, which need at least 55 million baht to keep them adequately fed.
The animals are kept at 23 breeding stations, three care centres and one centre for the study and management of animals.
Of all the animals, which range from birds, bear, deer and monkeys to tigers, Sompong said that there are about 500 carnivorous animals which must be fed with meat, while most of the animals can feed on grass plants or grains.
Some of the animals, such as the Siberian tigers seized from Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno, or the “Tiger Temple” some years ago, cannot be released into the wild because they do not have the hunting instinct and would not be expected to survive. Hence, they have to be kept in captivity for life, said the wildlife conservation director.
To supplement the budget shortfall, he said he can rely on some of the revenue earned from entry fees to national parks, estimated at about 10 million baht, and by seeking financial support from the public and conservation groups.
At the breeding station, at Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary, the station chief has adjusted the diets for the 13 tigers and 7 leopards by feeding them chicken instead of beef, which is more expensive.
The station was allocated only 600,000 baht for animal feed this year, down from a normal annual budget of two million baht. He expects the money to last just 3-4 months.
Officials have said that the inadequate animal feed budget will badly affect the breeding projects for deer and antelope, noting that insufficient food will make the animals weak and reduce the chances of reproduction.