The Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) is Malaysia’s national icon – reflected in the nation’s coat of arms, and is even the nickname of the national football team.
Yet, there are less than 150 of these tigers roaming in the wild, largely due to deforestation and illegal hunting.
Steps are now being taken to conserve the species, and earlier today, the National Tiger Conservation Task Force (MyTTF) had agreed on several steps to be carried out over the next eight years.
The task force is chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Among the strategic action plans that will be carried out include:
i. Surveillance and enforcement, via “boots on the ground”, involving various agencies, and the Orang Asli community. The inclusion of the Orang Asli community in such efforts is not new. Menraq, a Jahai Orang Asli forest patrol unit, roams the Royal Belum State Park in Perak to keep poachers away and detect snares to protect the tigers.
ii. Safeguarding and strengthening the habitat of the Malayan tigers by stopping illegal land clearing and illegal hunting.
iii. Increasing the current jungle area in Peninsular Malaysia from 43.41 per cent, to 50 per cent by 2040, in line with the Fourth National Physical Plan.
iv. Creating a Malayan tiger Conservation Unit within the police and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
v. Strengthening the financial instrument as an added incentive to the finances for the existing Ecological Fiscal Transfer for Biodiversity Conservation and to implement an accreditation scheme for the Malayan tiger’s habitat.
vi. Initiating a ‘save the Malayan tiger’ campaign, involving various parties to spread awareness and educate the community about the species.
Ismail Sabri, in a statement this afternoon, said the establishment of the MyTTF is the Federal, and state governments’ commitment in addressing the population crisis affecting the animal.
“It is platform to discuss policies, legal issues, and national strategies to conserve the Malayan tiger and its habitat,” Ismail Sabri said.
“If immediate action is not taken, Malaysia will face the risk of the Malayan tiger becoming extinct. Even more worrying, is that the iconic national species will be gone forever.”