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PUBLISHED: Nov 2, 2014 2:48pm

Fewer than 350 tigers left as poaching continues

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THE RAKYAT POST By:
The Rakyat Post

The remaining tigers can bounce back if protected, but the Malaysian government needs to invest money and manpower, and truly commit to its protection.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2, 2014:

The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) today called on the Public Service Department to allocate more enforcement staff to improve protection in three tiger priority areas — Taman Negara, Belum-Temengor and Endau-Rompin.

It also urged the Forestry Department to enhance efforts to detect illegal logging and poaching in permanent reserve forests.

“We also ask that the Economic Planning Unit and Ministry of Finance allocate more funds to ensure rangers and enforcement staff are properly trained, equipped and compensated.

“Given the precariously low tiger numbers, each individual animal should be monitored and protected diligently.

“If anti-poaching efforts remain piecemeal, tigers could disappear from large parts of Malaysia in the next decade, as witnessed in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar over the past decade,” it said in a statement.

Mycat also welcomed the government’s efforts to list Taman Negara as a Unesco world heritage site, and congratulated the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) and the Armed Forces on the successes of the 1Malaysia Biodiversity Enforcement Network (1MBEON).

1MBEON is an initiative under the National Blue Ocean Strategy to conduct joint patrols in protected areas to combat poaching and trespassing, and has resulted in the arrest of 13 foreigners since February.

“While the joint initiative is to be commended, anti-poaching patrols and other enforcement efforts need to be further scaled up immediately,”.

Although the tiger features prominently on commemorative coins issued by Bank Negara to celebrate Taman Negara’s 75th anniversary, the reality is that Malaysia has lost about 90% of its tigers since Independence.

Studies conducted between 2010 and 2013 suggest that there may be only 250 to 340 tigers left, and poaching is the greatest threat to the survival of the tigers and other wildlife.

During the studies that took place both in protected areas and forest reserves, NGOs destroyed more than 2,241 poachers’ traps and 1,728 illegal camp sites.

Meanwhile, an equivalent of at least 94 tigers were confiscated in Malaysia between 2000 and 2012 based on 33 seizures during that period.

“The remaining tigers can bounce back if protected, but the government needs to invest money and manpower, and truly commit to its protection.

“Patrols need to be focused, carried out with greater frequency, include a better informant network, penetrate deep into the forest, spread out over tiger priority areas, and conducted by full-time trained and armed personnel,” according to the statement.

In a recent nationwide tiger survey in Indonesia, Mycat said the Sumatran tiger showed a great comeback.

Earlier this year, Thailand was proclaimed “the great hope in saving the tiger”, and was identified as a potential model for wildlife conservation in the Southeast Asian region. Malaysia too, should be staking this claim, as Malaysia is the only home of the Malayan tiger.

“Malaysia is a tiger economy, and there is no reason for us to fall behind Nepal, India, Indonesia and Thailand in the fight to save the tiger.

“With as few as 250 remaining, we reiterate the urgent need for the  government to invest more resources to save the tigers,” added the statement.

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