CYBERJAYA: There may be just 50 tigers left in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex (BTFC), as detected under a comprehensive scientific study, says Dr Mark Rayan Darmaraj.
The WWF-Malaysia’s tiger expert and lead research scientist for the fund’s tiger conservation programme said that its minimum viable population there should be 80.
“This is why we have to secure the forests around BTFC by preventing further fragmentation to ensure there is enough space to support 80 tigers,” he said at Emkay Group’s Hari Raya open house here yesterday.
Darmaraj also found evidence of poachers via the camera traps as well as snares and camps left at the site.
“We found bullet casings in Temengor around the salt lick areas, which we suspect are from local poachers,” he said.
“In Royal Belum, we caught photos of foreigners encroaching mostly for agar wood.”
When asked whether Malaysia could successfully double its tiger population by 2020, he said it could be done in some areas like Temengor, but a lot of work was needed and “if the tigers don’t have enough food then we can forget about doubling their numbers”.
Currently, experts estimate there are 500 tigers left in the peninsula but Darmaraj said the study indicated that it could be around 300 to 400 instead.