Deep within the jungles of Malaysia prowl the last remaining tigers. With fewer than 150 individuals, tigers here are on the brink of extinction.
So imagine their surprise and joy when tiger conservationists at WWF-Malaysia recently spotted a tigress with four cubs on camera traps set up to monitor this small population. This exciting discovery has come at a much needed time as efforts in the country have been ramped up to secure a future for this iconic big cat.
What’s being done to conserve Malaysia’s last tigers?
Until recently snares set by poachers were the biggest threat to the future of wild tigers in Malaysia. With support from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan), WWF-Malaysia’s anti-poaching teams and Perak State Parks Corporation’s Orang Asli Menraq Patrol Unit regularly patrol the forests which covers an area spanning 117,500 hectares. In the last few years these regular patrolling efforts have reduced poaching incidents by almost 98%.
Stricter laws for wildlife crimes are also expected to take effect this month [July 2022] with the Wildlife Conservation Act 2020 (Act 716) doubling the maximum fine from RM500,000 to RM1 million for offenders. The establishment of the National Tiger Task Force headed by Malaysia’s Prime Minister, and the establishment of a Wildlife Crime Bureau are also expected to strengthen law enforcement.
“With the tiger population currently numbering fewer than 150 in Peninsular Malaysia, this latest development renews hope that this critically endangered species can be saved from the brink of extinction. It is all the more crucial that we continue our patrols, to protect these cubs and their mother from the existing threats of poaching and loss of habitat.” - Sophia Lim, CEO WWF-Malaysia.
The future of Malaysia’s tigers still hangs in the balance, but thanks to the collaborative efforts of government and community partners these young cubs have a fighting chance at survival and are proof that with the right conditions tigers can breed and repopulate a once thriving tiger landscape.