Kuala Lumpur, 26 February 2016 – The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) launched a petition today demanding four immediate actions to stop the alarming loss of wild Malayan tigers.
The petition follows two seizures of wild tigers from illegal traders and the rescue of a third from a snare. The wild population suffered a further loss when a tiger, pregnant with two cubs, was knocked down along a major highway. These are just the latest cases in a string of tiger deaths, mostly due to poaching and trafficking.
The group wants maximum sentences to be meted out to convicted poachers and wildlife traders, and alternative penalties be imposed to serve as a deterrent. It also asks for civil society to be allowed to support the investigation and prosecution process of wildlife crimes, and wants owners and managers of lands where tigers roam to bear a greater responsibility in protecting this Critically Endangered species.
The tiger is a universal symbol in Malaysia, gracing everything from the coat of arms to the national football team jerseys; yet the wild tiger population is down to its last 300.
Despite strong laws and some enforcement success, poaching and illegal trade continue to be the single biggest threat that undermines efforts to save tigers from extinction.
“Time and again Malaysia has seen tiger traffickers and traders get away with a slap on the wrist, although the law allows for so much more. Why should they get away with lenient sentences, when tigers get the death penalty?” said Dr. Kae Kawanishi, tiger biologist and MYCAT General Manager.
The illegal wildlife trade is an organised crime, and needs to be treated with severity. The coalition’s first demand is for the Courts to impose maximum penalties on those convicted of crimes involving tigers and other endangered species. There is also a need to allow digital evidence, such as images or videos, to be admitted in criminal prosecutions, as is being practised in Sabah and other Southeast Asian countries.
Secondly, MYCAT calls on the Attorney General to empower civil society to support the investigation and prosecution process of wildlife crimes. Further, the group wants the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 to be applied and further investigations conducted to shut down criminal networks.
The third call is for sustainable forestry certification to be re-evaluated for forests where tigers are killed. The majority of tiger habitats in the country are within forests that are certified for sustainable practices, and certification councils should ensure that stringent procedures are implemented to prevent poaching.
Habitat loss and fragmentation are also major threats to the survival of wild tigers. State Governments are asked to give the highest priority to maintain tiger habitats under natural forest cover, and to halt further fragmentation within the peninsula’s Central Forest Spine landscape.
“Six tigers taken out of the wild in just a month is a tragedy that cries out for an urgent response. Every report of a dead tiger has been met with an outpouring of anger from the Malaysian public. We call on them now to sign this petition to help us convey the desperate need for change,” urged Dr. Kae.
This petition is initiated by the four major conservation organisations that form MYCAT – Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme and WWF-Malaysia, who work to conserve wild tigers in Malaysia.
MYCAT is calling for 100,000 signatures to seek justice for the Malayan tiger by Global Tiger Day on 29 July 2016.