Urgent Need to Invest in Enforcement to Secure Future of Malaysia’s Tigers

Mycat

10 November 2014 | The Malayan Tigers News Release

Dear Editor,

Urgent Need to Invest in Enforcement to Secure Future of Malaysia’s Tigers
The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) welcomes the government’s efforts to list Taman Negara as a UNESCO world heritage site, and congratulates the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) and the Armed Forces on the successes of the 1Malaysia Biodiversity Enforcement Operation Network (1MBEON).

1MBEON is an initiative under the National Blue Ocean Strategy to conduct joint patrols in protected areas to combat poaching and trespassing, and has resulted in the arrest of 13 foreigners since February 2014. While the joint initiative is to be commended, anti-poaching patrols and other enforcement efforts need to be further scaled up immediately.

Although the tiger features prominently on commemorative coins issued by Bank Negara to celebrate Taman Negara’s 75th anniversary, the reality is that Malaysia has lost about 90% of its tigers since Independence.

Studies conducted between 2010 and 2013 suggest that there may be only 250-340 wild tigers left, and poaching is the greatest threat to the survival of our tigers and other wildlife.

During the studies that took place both in protected areas and forest reserves, NGOs destroyed more than 2,241 poachers’ traps and 1,728 illegal camp sites. Meanwhile, an equivalent of at least 94 tigers were confiscated in Malaysia between 2000 and 2012 based on 33 seizures during that period.

The remaining tigers can bounce back if protected, but the Malaysian government needs to invest money and manpower, and truly commit to its protection. Patrols need to be focused, carried out with greater frequency, include a better informant network, penetrate deep into the forest, spread out over tiger priority areas, and conducted by full-time trained and armed personnel.

Just how much effort is needed? To cite an example, Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, a well-protected reserve of 2,700 sq. km in Thailand where tigers and other wildlife are safe despite its proximity to major wildlife trafficking hubs, has 284 full-time staff patrolling 19,000 km every year.

To achieve the same intensity of foot-patrols in the 4,343 sq. km of Taman Negara, PERHILITAN would require 400 personnel patrolling the park FULL TIME. The current available manpower is only at about 8% of what is needed. The understaffing issue has even been highlighted by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.

Enlisting military personnel and PERHILITAN staff from outside Taman Negara does increase patrolling effort temporarily, but it is still only 10% of the protection needed. Protection of protected areas should be a full-time job.

We therefore call on the Public Service Department to allocate more enforcement staff to PERHILITAN to improve protection in all three tiger priority areas – Taman Negara, Belum-Temengor and Endau-Rompin, as well as Forestry Department to detect illegal logging and poaching in Peninsular Malaysia’s Permanent Reserved Forests.

We also ask that the Economic Planning Unit and Ministry of Finance allocate more funds to ensure rangers and enforcement staff are properly trained, equipped and compensated.

Given the precariously low tiger numbers, each individual animal should be monitored and protected diligently. If anti-poaching efforts remain piecemeal, tigers could disappear from large parts of Malaysia in the next decade, as witnessed in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar over the past decade.

In a recent nationwide tiger survey in Indonesia, the Sumatran tiger showed a great comeback. Earlier this year, Thailand was proclaimed ‘the great hope in saving the tiger’, and was identified as a potential model for wildlife conservation in the Southeast Asian region. Malaysia too, should be staking this claim, as Malaysia is the only home of the Malayan tiger.

Malaysia is a Tiger Economy, and there is no reason for us to fall behind Nepal, India, Indonesia and Thailand in the fight to save the tiger. With as few as 250 remaining, we reiterate the urgent need for the Malaysian government to invest more resources to save Malaysia’s tiger.

Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT)*

For further enquiries, please contact:
Wong Pui May
Coordinator
MYCAT Secretariat’s Office
Tel: 03 7880 3940 / 017 682 1006
Email: mycat.so@malayantiger.net

Download your full copy of this Press Release, here.

* Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) is an alliance of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme and WWF-Malaysia, supported by PERHILITAN for joint implementation of the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan for Malaysia.


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