Kuala Lumpur, 6 March 2015 – When it was revealed in 2014 that there may only be 250-340 wild Malayan tigers left1, down from the previous estimate of 500, many might have wondered what tiger conservationists have been doing.
MYCAT Tracks: The Malayan Tiger’s Struggle for Existence, a report published by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT), provides some answers. This issue profiles over a decade of trials and tribulations of tiger conservation in Malaysia, in the fight to keep this majestic species alive.
Comprising voices of NGO and government staff involved in tiger conservation as well as the Batek Orang Asli, MYCAT Tracks reflects upon past efforts and offers some frightening predictions.
The underlying message is that we will lose Malayan tigers in most of our forests in the next decade if Malaysia as a whole does not up our game very quickly.
There is one prominent aspiration to turn the tide around: for the Malaysian Prime Minister to be the leader in saving Malaysia’s national icon.
A key action would be to set up a Tiger Task Force that can mobilise resources to implement the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan, with the main priorities being to protect tigers from poaching and trade and safeguard tiger habitat from indiscriminate deforestation.
There also needs to be more quality scientific research to inform decision-making; better management of protected areas and increased involvement of business, local communities and citizen conservationists.
It is undeniable, however, that if not for a series of conscious conservation efforts by many quarters, the Malayan tiger might already be extinct in the wild.
In the Foreword of MYCAT Tracks, MYCAT General Manager Dr. Kae Kawanishi pays tribute to wildlife rangers who work on the ground, risking their lives to protect Malaysia’s biodiversity.
“Across gender, racial, religious, cultural and national differences, the tiger brought us together. More than being great wildlife rangers, they are great human beings. Their spirit lives in me. So the fight must go on.”
Malaysia’s success in keeping tigers alive, throughout a decade when other wild populations were lost, was also due to support from the public. MYCAT has 1,082 volunteers who helped spread conservation messages and protected tiger habitat.
Many more people need to join the battle; this latest volume of MYCAT Tracks is a plea for the silent majority to stand up and be counted.
An opportunity approaches. MYCAT’s flagship citizen conservation programme, Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT)2, is the only programme in Malaysia that enables volunteers to help protect tigers from poaching. From 9 to 23 March 2015, CAT will be taking part in an international voting process organised by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA)3. The project with the most votes will win a grant.
For CAT, this means EUR30,000 to expand the programme, bringing more watchful eyes to the Sungai Yu Wildlife Corridor in Pahang, which links Taman Negara – the largest priority area for the Malayan tiger – with the Main Range (Banjaran Titiwangsa). Altogether, it forms the world’s fifth largest tiger landscape.
It will also mean furthering MYCAT’s collaboration with the local communities in the area, including Batek villagers and certified nature guides, for saving wildlife and forests while enhancing their livelihoods.
“It seems that the presence of citizen conservationists has reduced poaching activity as we are now seeing more wildlife signs in the corridor. If one day we find tiger pugmarks (footprints) in the corridor, it will be a dream come true,” said Suzalinur Manja Bin Bidin, the CAT Programme Manager.
“We are competing against five other projects from around the world. Winning this vote means Malaysians support saving Malaysia’s tigers. I urge everyone reading my words to take a few minutes to vote for the Malayan tiger,” added Dr. Kae.
Log on to www.malayantiger.net to find out how you can make a difference for our tigers. A softcopy of MYCAT Tracks is available for download at this link.