November 5, 2009

Malaysia Plans To Double Tiger Population By 2020

Malaysia's deputy premier has revealed plans to increase the population of the rare Malayan Tiger by supervising and protecting the wild cat in its natural environment.

Muhyiddin Yassin said the government's recently established biodiversity council had accepted the National Tiger Action Plan in an attempt to boost the diminishing numbers.

They want to increase the Malayan tiger populace "to 1,000 by 2020 in their natural habitat," he announced to state media Bernama on Wednesday.

"We will take concrete efforts to protect the tigers, including in situ conservation efforts. The aim is to also widen the area where wildlife is protected."

Wildlife activists are pleased with the government's support of the arrangement, and are also encouraging the enforcement of laws already set in place.

"High level support behind the action plan is crucial not just to save tigers but their habitat and prey species," Chris Shepherd, acting head of wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, said to AFP.

A "decline in their prey base" is a huge issue facing the tigers, he noted.

The government announced in July that they are bringing in the military to fight poaching, which has condensed the number of Malayan Tigers from 3000 in the 1950s to a current number of 500.

"Enforcement in Malaysia and across tiger-range states needs to be stepped up as tiger (numbers) have declined so sharply in the last few years," Shepherd added.

"We are not going to be able to save tigers unless enforcement and deterrents are in place."

Tiger parts are utilized in customary medicine across the country. In October, wildlife authorities released a Malayan tiger from a poacher trap near Thailand. The animal passed away from its wounds sustained from the trap.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia