KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2, 2015:
While Global Tiger Day passed on July 29, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MyCat) finds little to celebrate as tigers are increasingly being threatened and are now critically endangered.
There were only 240 to 350 remaining Malayan tigers in the wild in Peninsular Malaysia and Shariff Mohamad of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia is calling on Malaysia to do more than sit and watch.
Firstly, Shariff said, there needed to be a strong commitment to the Central Forest Spine Master Plan by state governments in the peninsula.
“We have a good, comprehensive plan already in place — the Central Forest Spine Master Plan for Ecological Linkages —which identifies important ecological linkages and measures needed to secure them.
“The problem is, this is a federal plan while the individual states have jurisdiction over land matters,” Shariff said in a statement on behalf of MyCat.
He said there were several success stories to take example from, including the gazetting of a corridor in Belum-Temengoras Amanjaya Forest Reserve by the Perak state government and the freezing of development within the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor by the Terengganu state government.
Shariff said there was also a need for more patrolling by enforcement agencies, specifically where tigers roamed.
He pointed out that the existing number of rangers in protected areas lagged far behind protected areas in Thailand.
“Parts from a staggering 94 tigers were seized in Malaysia from 2000-2012, including skin and bones of 22 tigers from a middleman in Kedah.
“Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Undoubtedly many more cases of tiger poaching remain undetected.
“Poaching of this magnitude poses an immediate threat to the survival of tigers, as well as other wildlife.”
In addition to these steps, restriction of access into forest reserves and the protection of key resources for tiger prey were needed.
Shariff said if enforcement efforts were put at forest entry points, poaching activities could be reduced.
“The majority of tiger habitats in Peninsular Malaysia consists of forest reserves, many of which are designated for logging activities.
“This network of logging roads increases accessibility for poachers, who can venture into the deep interiors of the forest via off-road vehicles to poach, using both firearms and snares.”
As for the protection of tiger prey resources, Shariff said this was to ensure these were also not over-hunted.
“Salt licks, an important resource for sambar deer and other tiger prey species, are still often targeted by hunters.
“Efforts need to be made to protect salt licks from human disturbance and development, by classifying such areas as High Conservation Value Forests and patrolling them regularly.”
Shariff says these steps, along with action by the people, were needed to ensure tigers lived for years to come.