Will the Malayan tiger suffer same fate as the woolly mammoth?

Plans to resurrect the extinct woolly mammoth have got the world talking in recent weeks, including the son of Twentytwo13’s managing editor, Pearl Lee.

In her column in Malay news website Getaran published earlier today, Pearl said her five-year-old, a big fan of the Animal Planet and National Geographic channels, is looking forward to one day being able to see this pre-historic animal up close.

The plan to bring alive these creatures that went extinct some 4,000 years ago after roaming the Earth for five million years, is scheduled to take place within the next six years.

Although such matters are often a point of contention, the ‘de-extinction’ of the woolly mammoth is to restore the ecosystem in the tundra, to address climate change, and also to help conserve Asian elephants.

Skin cells from Asian elephants (also threatened with extinction) will be taken and reprogrammed into stem cells that carry mammoth DNA.

On Thursday, the Malaysian government said data revealed that the population of the Malayan tiger is at a very worrying state, with less than 200 tigers left in the wild.

Drawing parallels with the woolly mammoth, Pearl said it is not inconceivable that scientists would, one day, also have to resurrect the Malayan tiger, which is the national symbol of Malaysia.

“But it won’t be easy, nor cheap. Scientists playing God is also often an issue of contention,” she wrote.

Pearl said while many joint initiatives had been taken by the authorities and non-governmental organisations over the years to help conserve Malayan tigers, one accomplishment that stood out was the Orang Asli forest patrol – Menraq – that had made huge strides in saving the species.

The brainchild of the Perak State Parks Corporation and non-governmental organisation Rimau, Menraq was set up in 2019 to save the Malayan tiger in the Royal Belum State Park in Perak.

“The joint efforts by Menraq, forest rangers, as well as the World Wide Fund for Nature, has seen poaching in the area drop by 90 per cent, said Pearl.

She also shared insights from her interview with Perak State Parks director, Shah Redza Hussein, earlier this year.

In January, Shah Redza said there were 60-70 Malayan tigers in the Belum-Temenggor forest area seven years ago, but only 20, now. And in 24 months, the numbers could very well be reduced by half. Once this happens, it would be difficult for the tigers to reproduce, as the area measures some 117,500ha.

Pearl said it was crystal clear that we are running out of time to save the Malayan tiger.

She hoped that the Malayan tiger would not suffer the same fate as the woolly mammoth.

Tagged with: