Despite legislation efforts and increased patrolling, the number of surviving Malayan tigers has reached an all-time low.
KUALA LUMPUR: Launched in 2008, the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan’s (NTCAP) target to keep 1,000 wild Malayan tigers alive by 2020 has been hit by a current estimate of only 250 to 340 surviving tigers.
In a joint statement by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan), MYCAT coordinator Wong Pui May said, “With the new 2014 estimate, that target may now be unachievable in this time frame.”
From studies conducted between 2010-2013 using camera traps at seven sites across three major tiger landscapes in Peninsular Malaysia, experts estimated the population of the Malayan tigers at 250-340.
This number is nearly half the previous estimate of 500 tigers.
Wong however indicated that more sites need to be surveyed to determine a more robust estimate of the remaining Malayan tiger population in Malaysia.
Malayan tigers were classified as an “endangered” species in 2008.
But the recent numbers have now qualified it as “critically endangered” under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
“Despite all efforts, including the strengthening of legislation and increased patrolling, tiger conservation across the vast tropical forest landscape continue to face challenges.
“Poaching for illegal commercial trade is the greatest and most urgent threat to tigers in Malaysia, followed by loss and fragmentation of forests,” said Wong.
Several tiger conservation efforts are being explored including the establishment of Tiger Patrol Units designed to protect and monitor the tigers at three priority areas – Belum-Temengor, Taman Negara and Endau Rompin.
Perhilitan and MYCAT will also undertake a National Tiger Survey to increase tiger protection throughout the remaining major forested landscapes in Peninsular Malaysia.
Wong said that the federal government and MYCAT donors had also provided various funding which has greatly enhanced efforts at managing the tigers in their fragmented habitats.
But more resources are needed for the implementation of the NTCAP.
“Technical assistance by the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded and UNDP-supported Protected Area Financing Project and CFS Project are greatly appreciated as these will strengthen the management of the three priority tiger areas, the management of critical wildlife corridors within the CFS and the implementation of the National Tiger Survey,” said Wong.