Snares push Malayan Tiger to brink of extinction

The Malayan Tiger is a Malaysia icon yet many don’t give this majestic creature a second thought.

In the 1950s, there were an estimated 3,000 of the animal, but preliminary findings of the first National Tiger Survey show the numbers have dropped to fewer than 200. The severe decline is a result of the snaring crisis across Southeast Asia that is decimating wildlife populations in the region.

According to a new WWF report, Silence of the snares: Southeast Asia’s Snaring Crisis, an estimated 12 million snares are set every year throughout protected areas in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, while an average of 53,000 snares are removed annually from 11 protected areas in five Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia.

Within WWF-Malaysia’s priority site of Belum-Temengor, the population of tigers has decreased by about 50 per cent in the past 10 years.

Rallying behind the urgency to save the critically endangered Malayan Tiger, WWF-Malaysia, in partnership with Maybank, launched ‘Global Tiger Day 2020’ – a month-long Malayan Tiger-themed campaign on Wednesday.

Global Tiger Day, also known as International Tiger Day, was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia. It is an annual celebration to raise awareness on tiger conservation.

Malaysia’s Global Tiger Day kicked off with a 30-minute Facebook Live launch via the StreamYard live streaming platform, with a series of tiger-themed content planned throughout the month, culminating in a virtual concert on Aug 30 in the run-up to the Merdeka celebrations.

Malaysia is one of only 10 tiger range countries in the world.

“I applaud the collaboration between WWF-Malaysia and Maybank for these continued conservation efforts, which include the protection and monitoring of tigers as well as engagement with local indigenous communities in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex,” said WWF-Malaysia patron Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.

“Conserving our natural heritage can only be possible if all parties continue to work together towards a common goal.”

In mid-2018, with Maybank’s partnership support, WWF-Malaysia launched an ambitious initiative called Project Stampede which drastically increased the number of patrol teams comprising people from the local indigenous communities, to carry out patrols, remove snares and collect data on poaching.

These efforts have seen a 99 per cent reduction in snares encountered, with 227 active snares deactivated over a total of 22,800km patrolled on foot over the past four years.

“Countless species have been declared extinct with many others today now critically endangered, including our national icon,” said WWF-Malaysia chairman Tunku Ali Redhauddin Tuanku Muhriz.

“The Malayan Tiger embodied on our national crest, the Jata Negara, is a symbol of courage, strength and grandeur.

“As just one of 10 countries in the world where the tiger species is present, we have a huge responsibility to ensure the Malayan Tiger’s continuity.”

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