The Fourth Asia Tiger Ministerial Conference concludes in Malaysia

Posted on 25 January 2022

The 4th Asia Ministerial Conference (AMC) on Tiger Conservation culminated on January 21st with the adoption of the Kuala Lumpur Joint Statement, listing a number of actions that will need to be taken in order to effectively recover the species across Asia. Importantly, the Statement also recognized that the 2nd Global Tiger Summit, to be held in Vladivostok on September 5th, will be an occasion for both a review of the previous 12-years of work under the Global Tiger Initiative - since the 1st Global Tiger Summit in 2010 - and for the endorsement of new targets for the next 12 year cycle. In the closing remarks of, and in support of a successful Summit outcome, India's Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav, invited all tiger range countries to participate in a critical pre-Summit meeting in India at some point in the coming months.

The speech by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob was a highlight of the event. It also outlined the severity of the challenge facing certain tiger range countries, noting that his country now has less than 150 wild tigers; and that experts had estimated that this Malayan Tiger could vanish from the wild in five to ten years without immediate action.

Between the above speech, and that of Malaysia's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Dato’ Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, a number of bold new approaches to stem the tiger decline in the country were outlined. These included the formation of a National Tiger Conservation Task Force chaired by the Prime Minister, the inaugural meeting of which was held January 10th. It also included a commitment to increase the density of rangers in tiger landscapes - with the appointment of more community patrols by indigenous peoples (Orang Asli) and armed force veteran rangers for tiger landscapes made shortly after the close of the event. 

WWF also released a report at the event, “Life on the frontline of tiger protection”, which highlights the working conditions of 1,599 rangers in tiger landscapes across all 10 countries that still have tiger populations. The report showed that this sector - perhaps the most crucial to tiger conservation - was beset by a number of critical shortcomings, including the fact that less than half of these 'tiger rangers' regularly had access to communication devices or clean drinking water on patrols. 

The 4th AMC was jointly organized by the Malaysian Government and Global Tiger Forum, with the support of local and international partners, including WWF. It was the first major Global Tiger Initiative meeting held in Southeast Asia since Thailand hosted the 1st AMC in January 2010. It thus provided an important opportunity to advance the development of the Southeast Asia Tiger Recovery Action Plan, with Malaysia's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources calling upon the six other Southeast Asian tiger range countries to all endorse national measurable short-term recovery plan commitments in the coming months - so that they can be fully implemented into the next phase of the Global Tiger Initiative starting in late 2022. 

Yeshey Penjor, the Bhutanese Minister for Agriculture and Forests and Chair of the Global Tiger Forum, spoke at length about the importance of community-driven tiger conservation and the importance of further incentivizing human-tiger coexistence in the coming months and years. 

The conference also highlighted the vital need to address the trade in tigers across their range by strengthening law enforcement against tiger crimes, including online trade, improving transboundary collaboration and intelligence sharing, and phasing out tiger farms, as well as halting the demand for tiger parts and products which drives the trade and poaching. 

More than 300 individuals participated in the virtual meeting, which was held over three days (Jan.19-21). Participants included Ministers, senior government officials, private sector representatives, IGOs, and NGOs. WWF staff delivered eight presentations over the course of the meeting, addressing a wide variety of issues pertinent to tiger conservation and recovery.