The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is struggling to feed some 26,000 rescued wild animals, as the government has cut the yearly budget for taking care of them by 50 million baht.

Ratchada Suriyakul na Ayutthaya, director-general of the department, said on Thursday that many wild animals seized from wildlife traffickers were kept at wildlife breeding centres. 

Over the past years, the department received an annual budget of 80 million baht to look after these animals. This year, the funding was slashed from 80 million baht to 30 million baht, he said.

“We’re taking care of 188 Indochinese tigers and lions, 27 leopards, eight Asian golden cats, 222 sun bears and Asiatic black bears, and 2,600 monkeys, gibbons and langurs, 194 lorises, 87 otters, 507 falcons and other wild animals, totalling about 26,000 animals” Mr Ratchada said.  “The budget cut is making it difficult for us to take care of them.” 

The department has launched several projects to provide more food and improve their living conditions. Private firms have also donated unsold fruits and vegetables to the department to feed the animals, but they are not their main food source, he said.

Large animals, such as tigers and bears, eat meat. Each tiger consumed about 5 kilograms of meat each day, excluding vitamins. Animal health check-ups are conducted every year, he said.

The department has launched the “Foster Parents” project to encourage animal lovers to donate money to buy food for wild animals under the department’s care. People can donate to the project’s Krungthai Bank account number 980-216-5379, said the department chief.