It is possible that this “need” existed in ancient times. But today, in additional to modern medicines there are also many herbal alternatives to assist those suffering from the conditions that tiger-based medicine supposedly cure, such as rheumatism and arthritis. These alternatives are safe and legal, and are recommended by many traditional medicine practitioners.

Should tigers be commercially bred and farmed to supply the demand?

Some argue that farming tigers could be a good idea. It might take the pressure away from wild populations, with farmed animals supplying the demand for tiger parts and products. We firmly oppose such a move.

Commercial tiger farming violates both local and international laws. The demand for products made from wild tigers would increase since these would be considered by consumers to be more valuable and powerful than those from farmed individuals.

A black market would quickly develop for products made from wild tigers, leading to the rapid demise of the remaining wild animals. The 500 or so wild tigers remaining in Malaysia could be wiped out within a short period of time.

It doesn’t make economic sense. It will always be cheaper to obtain tigers by setting snares and shooting them, rather than breeding, feeding and caring for them. The cost of a wire snare is next to nothing in comparison to the cost of maintaining one tiger for three years when it would be old enough to attain adult bone weight, which can be as much as RM70,000.

Protecting tigers is difficult enough - without having to prove if a product came from a farmed tiger, or a wild one. We need to step up and protect our wild tigers, rather than feed the demand for tiger products. We cannot save the tiger by selling it.

In Malaysia, sambar deer, barking deer and wild pig are important tiger prey species. People too, share the same taste for these animals, hunting them, reduces the amount of food available for tigers. Sambar deer, barking deer and wild pig can be hunted and sold only with a license. Wild pigs can be hunted throughout the year, but barking deer and sambar deer can only be legally hunted during the month of November. If you see anyone hunting deer outside this period, they are breaking the law and should be reported.

The sale of deer meat, however, is more complicated with some markets and restaurants selling farmed deer which is legal throughout the year. Not every restaurant serving deer meat is breaking the law - unless you are sure that their meat is illegally sourced from the wild.

Tigers are losing their wild places as development increases and the human population grows. When people and tigers live too close to each other, conflict can arise. Tigers may attack domestic livestock (especially if the populations of wild prey have been reduced), or sometimes, accidentally attack people. When this happens, tigers are removed by the authorities or killed in retaliation by villagers. More tigers are killed by people than the other way around.

Much of Malaysia’s virgin lowland rainforests have been cleared and converted to agriculture. Less than 4% of Peninsular Malaysia’s virgin rainforests remain untouched; with about 45% of the land as forest cover.

Taman Negara holds a viable population of tigers and it is likely that the Belum-Temengor forest in Perak still supports a viable population.

Wild Malayan tigers will only stand a chance of surviving into the next century if these contiguous large forests remain. This is why it is vital that these large blocks of forest remain intact, with their inhabitants safe from poachers.

There are more than 5,000 tigers living in zoos worldwide - more than in the wild! Saving the tiger isn’t just about conserving those living behind bars. The tiger means wildness – they need large expanses of forests with lots of other wildlife (and few people).

From their position at the top of the food chain, tigers exert significant predatory pressure - they help to keep the ecosystem in balance. Forests with large predators support a greater variety of species than those without. Zoos cannot conserve healthy ecosystems.

Almost every body part of the tiger is sought after for traditional medicines, magic, trophies, and exotic meat restaurants. Some cultures have a long history of using the species in a variety of traditional concoctions made from almost every part of the animal. Even here in Malaysia exotic meat restaurants claim to serve meat from tigers and other endangered wildlife, with consumers often believing that these are good for their health.

Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers

MYCAT is an alliance of Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC, WCS-Malaysia and WWF-Malaysia, supported by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia for recovery of wild tiger populations.