The race to save our Malayan Tigers

This International Tiger Day, learn why there is a worrying decline of these amazing animals and the efforts to save them before it is too late.

Photo by Jakob Owens via Unsplash

While everyone was on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Netflix's Tiger King soared in popularity and what shocked the viewers was that there are more captive tigers in the United States that there are in the wild globally. It is believed that the Malayan Tiger is a critically endangered sub-species with less than 200 individuals left in Malaysia today, and their biggest threat -- is humans.

How did we come to this?

Poaching is one of the main causes of decline in the Malayan tiger population other than deforestation and the destruction of their habitat. They are often hunted for their body parts which are used traditional medicine and believed to have spiritual healing properties. In some countries, tiger parts like the skin, skull, claws, canine tooth and skin are traded as trophies and talismans. Some of these body parts are worth as high as RM 290,000 (US$ 70,000).

These beliefs and practices have created a high demand for tiger parts, presenting poachers with a high revenue stream. They illegally hunt these magnificent creatures on a large scale to satisfy huge demands for tiger parts in the black market.

With the destruction of their habitat, conflict with humans and a declining prey base, these tigers perish both direct and indirectly at the hands of humans. Time is running out for the Malayan Tiger and experts predict that we may witness their extinction in just 2 years if we do not take action now.

Photo by Steve Wilson via Wiki Commons

Tiger conservation groups like MYCAT and WWF Malaysia have been working tirelessly to educate people on the threats against Malayan tigers hoping to end the demand for tiger parts while addressing other causes for the Malayan tiger population decline.

However, the pressing issue is that illegal poachers often evade from getting caught. Poachers are highly organised and have access to quick escapes and effective smuggling channels. In cases where humans are found to be in possession of Malayan tigers parts, the source of those parts is often unidentifiable.

It is also crucial to urge the Malaysian government to take sterner and more consistent action against poachers. Just last year, the Royal Malaysian Police and Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) arrested almost 50 people in connection to wildlife crimes. The goal is to ensure that the authorities draft and enforce effective laws and policies that protect our tigers and bolster rehabilitation programmes.

So, take this day to learn a little bit more about our furry treasures that call our lush rainforest home, before we drive them to extinction. Head onto MYCAT and WWF Malaysia for more information on Tiger conservation and how you can help!

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