28 July 2019, Kuala Lumpur: The Malayan Tiger is today on the verge of extinction, numbering less than 200 within the forests of Peninsula Malaysia. Their population is under severe threat from poaching and remains so due to inadequate protection and enforcement.
Due to the already crucial need for an anti-poaching presence, MYCAT established the Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT) Walk back in 2010. The CAT Walk is an anti-poaching and anti-deforestation surveillance walk conducted by citizen conservationists. It is the only program of its kind in the world that facilitates concerned members of the public to directly safeguard tigers against poaching.
The need for such an inclusive initiative was born out of pure necessity, as the long wait for government intervention and allocation of resources had to be factored into the very survival of Malaysia’s most iconic species. In the 9 years since its inception, 1920 people from 36 countries have joined CAT Walks and patrolled 4,300km of forests and disarmed 168 snares. These valiant volunteers paid heed to the call for action and did what was needed to help protect endangered wildlife. I strongly believe that our Tigers require the concrete support of Malaysians everywhere to pick up the fight and walk the walk!
Their contributions through direct action notwithstanding, many CAT walkers also donated cash. This monetary assistance would hold little value should the Tiger and their forests vanish. As a result, MYCAT has resolved to in turn, contribute funds directly to the agency mandated to the protection of Tigers, PERHILITAN (Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia).
Today, on Global Tiger Day, I would like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge anonymous donors, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, and the numerous Malaysians for believing in the value of citizen actions for Tigers. On behalf of the 1920 volunteers and members of public who gave to save Tigers, I would like to present RM46,800 to the Save the Malayan Tiger Trust Fund for better protection of tigers in Taman Negara.
With a staff of 4, MYCAT is a decidedly small entity, which endeavours to protect wildlife and restore forests through the immense support from our regular donors, trusted local community partners and thousands of people who just want to do their part.
I am from Japan, and we have this proverb, “Even dust can accumulate to be a mountain”. To some, RM46,800 is not a lot of money, but for us it exemplifies a proud example made by numerous individuals over the years.
Responding to our calls for military protection against armed poachers last year, my former colleague the current Director General of PERHILITAN initiated Ops Belang and mobilized 200 wildlife rangers without any special allocation. Whilst the government is taking the necessary steps, PERHILITAN’s 200 rangers need public support now.
Military protection may not come in time to save our Tigers; however, no one should be a bystander in the imminent extinction of the Malayan Tiger. Please make your contribution to the trust fund today (www.harimau.my). Without action, nothing will change.
Dr Kae Kawanishi General Manager
The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers is the alliance of the Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC, Wildlife Society of Selangor, WCS-Malaysia and WWF-Malaysia, supported by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.