© Marc Schultz
© Marc Schultz

It’s just another day at a remote monastery in western Thailand as the resident monks rise before dawn, make their alms rounds, then take their tigers for a walk. Aside from providing Buddhist training, the six-year-old jungle monastery now acts as an sanctuary for some of Thailand’s few remaining wild tigers.

It all started three years ago when a local man found an injured tiger cub abandoned in the wild and took it to the monastery to be cared for. The monks’ vocation took root, and today there are seven young rescued tigers at the monastery, most likely orphaned by poachers.

Daily life for most Buddhist monks involves a strict regimen of prayer and meditation, but these young monks have been blessed with a special opportunity: to lend a hand to the survival of one of the world’s most amazing, and endangered, creatures. The bond between Buddhism, man, and these tigers, the monks believe, creates the peaceful atmosphere that can immediately be felt upon entering the sanctuary grounds. It is surreal, yet impressive, to see the monks fulfilling one of the central precepts of Buddhism, the preservation of life, by caring for an animal long feared for its skill as a predator.

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