PETALING JAYA: The sambar deer is faced with extinction, with environmentalists calling for the animal to be declared an endangered species.
According to a paper by four leading Malaysia-based wildlife experts, the sambar (Rusa unicolor) is facing habitat loss from development and deforestation as well as constant poaching.
“We believe that the process of extinction will be exacerbated for this species in peninsular Malaysia,” said the paper.
It was authored by Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) general manager Dr Kae Kawanishi, WWF-Malaysia’s Tiger Conservation Programme lead research scientist Dr Mark Rayan, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme director Dr Melvin Gumal and Traffic (South-East Asia) regional director Dr Chris Shepherd.
The paper said while there was no national estimate on the number of sambar, 23 studies using infrared camera traps carried out between 1997 and 2008 showed the animal to be rarely detected outside protected areas, which accounted for a mere 16% of the total sambar habitat (52,490 sq km) in the peninsula.
Only 414 photos of sambar were taken, 346 of which came from protected areas. No sambar was recorded in 15 forest reserves studied.
The experts called for the sambar to be given “Endangered” status according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as one that faced a “very high risk of extinction in the wild”.
In mid-2008, the IUCN Red List defined the sambar as a “Vulnerable” species, adding that its population had declined in mainland South-East Asia.