09 September, 2010
Mainstreaming The Conservation Of Tigers
By Ummi Nadiah Rosli
(This is the last of the three series article on tigers in conjunction with
Malaysia's 53rd Independence Day)
Fifty three years after independence, more than 80 percent of Malaysia's apex
predator, the tiger, has been decimated.
With less than 500 Malayan tigers in the wild, we might lose our tigers to
extinction in our lifetime unless more Malaysians join the fight to save them.
To address the dire plight of the tigers, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for
Tigers (MYCAT) was created in 2003.
United by a common vision of a Malaysia where wild tigers thrive in the 22nd
Century and beyond, MYCAT is a joint programme of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), TRAFFIC Southeast Asia
(TRAFFIC), Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF-Malaysia, and supported by the Department of Wildlife and National
Since its inception, MYCAT continues to provide a platform for the communication,
collaboration and resource consolidation on tiger conservation issues, roping in the involvement of the nation's
highest leadership to local communities to ensure the survival of tigers.
NATIONAL TIGER CONSERVATION ACTION PLAN FOR MALAYSIA
One of the most encouraging outcomes for our tigers recently was the National
Tiger Conservation Action Plan (NTCAP), a strategy in mainstreaming the conservation of tigers in
NTCAP was initiated by Perhilitan through the support from MYCAT, the Forestry
Department and other relevant government agencies, and further developed in line with existing development plans
According to Dr. Sivananthan T. Elagupillay, Director of Eco-Tourism Division for
Perhilitan, the adoption of the NTCAP in the 10th Malaysia Plan is a major commitment by the Federal Government to
strengthen the conservation of the Malayan tiger in Peninsula.
"The aim of this comprehensive action plan is to increase by up to 1,000 tigers by
the year 2020 from the present tiger population estimated at 500 in the wild covering a complex landscape that
extends from the north to south of Peninsula and covering almost 35 percent of the land area."
In November 2009, NTCAP was adopted officially by the highest ranks of the
government at the National Biodiversity-Biotechnology Council (NBBC), chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri
"The NTCAP recommends the implementation of some 80 actions that range over four
The first being protection of core tiger habitat complexes that include Belum
State Park in the north, Taman Negara National Park in the central region and the Endau Rompin National Park in the
south of Peninsula.
The second series of action is the protection of tiger and prey
Third is to enhance the sustainable development within tiger landscapes which also
includes the implementation of a land use plan under the Central Forest Spine (CFS) Master Plan through the
creation of wildlife corridors and linkages. The objective is to link fragmented forest complexes between Protected
Areas and surrounding Forest Reserves by incorporating smart green infrastructure initiatives.
The final series of actions are related to strengthening of scientific and public
knowledge through research and awareness programmes.
PROTECTION OF TIGER AND PREY SPECIES
To combat the poaching and other crimes against wildlife, several efforts have
been undertaken by Perhilitan and MYCAT partners.
In the Belum-Temenggor priority area, the country's first joint enforcement task
force was established where various agencies have come together to show their commitment.
In Perak, police, army and WWF's Wildlife Protection Unit (WPU) have been
conducting anti-poaching patrols in the Royal Belum State Park and along the 100km-long East-West highway, which
provides easy access points to poachers. Gerik, located near the border of Thailand is a hotspot for illegal
Under their watchful eyes, 102 snares have been removed and 10 poachers/traders
have been arrested since January 2009.
Authorities have also been vigilant on illegal activities along the Taman Negara
park border. Taman Negara enforcement officers managed to arrest poachers, and 600 snares were found in a single
raid at the area last year.
As for prey species protection, the Perhilitan has initiated a moratorium
throughout Peninsula to stop the hunting of Sambar Deer and Barking Deer since 2009.
To further support Perhilitan enforcement actions, MYCAT set up the Wildlife Crime
Hotline in 2007. The hotline received more than 300 reports between 2008 and 2009, and Perhilitan successfully
acted on 37 of the reports with timely relevant information.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT WITHIN TIGER LANDSCAPES
Also, poorly planned agricultural developments, as well as rapid deforestation
throughout the country are significant contributors to the loss of tiger habitats.
WWF-Malaysia Species Communications Officer, Sara Sukor explained that human-tiger
conflict, where persecution of tigers by villagers was caused by the opening of plantations next to a forest. At
most instances, tigers avoid people, and will only attack if they are provoked, injured or starved.
"WWF started its first project site for human-tiger conflict mitigation in
Jerangau, from 1998 to 2002. At the time, 50 cattles were killed by tigers in a single year.
We taught the villagers how to keep their plantations clear of shrubs, and to
build paddocks for the cattle and not to let their cattle roam at the forest fringes. After the project started,
cattle predation was reduced to 2 per year."
Additionally, WWF assisted villagers of Kampung Lubok Bongor in Jeli, Kelantan, to
form a community-based WPU in 2008 to reduce human wildlife-conflict incidences in the area. Such patrols are hoped
to reduce instances where villagers take matters in their own hands, and to call Perhilitan instead.
The Perhilitan is also actively involved with the assistance of the Federal
Government of Malaysia and the Terengganu State Government in using smart green infrastructure to link fragmented
tiger habitats north of Taman Negara National Park as envisaged under the NTCAP and the CFS.
AWARENESS AND GETTING PEOPLE TO ACT
From places of worships to marketplaces, and poaching and trading hotspots,
outreach programmes, a main staple of Perhilitan's and MYCAT partners' seems to work.
Near the border's smuggling hotspots in Tumpat, Kelantan, programmes were carried
out at the village Buddhist temples and included the participation of the local monks.
For predominantly Muslim communities, WWF held a workshop for religious leaders
and teachers in Jeli, Kelantan. They drafted Friday prayer sermons to talk about poaching and illegal trade, using
examples from the Quran.
Co-organised with the Kelantan Council of Religion and Malay Custom and the
Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia, the sermons aim to influence human attitudes towards poaching and
Outreach programmes are also carried out to change the mindset of local
communities on the hunting of animals such as Sambar deer and barking deer - an activity which is deeply rooted in
The challenge is also to educate urban communities.
RACE AGAINST TIME
The Perhilitan through NRE and with the strong support from stakeholders looks
forward to strengthen the implementation of the NTCAP under the 10th Malaysian Plan which would cover from 2011 to
But the stakes are high, as every second is ticking time bomb for the survival of
"I believe that Malaysians are divided into 3 categories when it comes to voicing
out for tiger conservation. The first group are biologists who see conserving the tiger as a way to conserve our
entire ecosystem. The second category is comprised of those who view the tiger as culturally significant, an icon
to be proud of. The third category belongs to those who have spiritual and religious beliefs on protecting the
tigers, and are concerned about the welfare of animals and plants. I would like to believe whole-heartedly that
every Malaysian falls into at least one of these categories," Sara said.
A glimmer of hope is expected at this month's Global Tiger Summit in Russia. Heads
of Government from host tiger countries will meet to decide what can be done to give the remaining tigers in the
wild, including the Malayan tigers, their last chance for survival.
After all, would we want to be responsible for removing the tiger in the wild and
still keep our emblem?
-- BERNAMA --