PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's national animal, the Malayan tiger, is being being pushed to the point of extinction.
Current estimates have pegged Malaysia's tiger population at as little as 250 to 340 tigers in Peninsular forests, nearly half of the previous estimate of 500 tigers.
"Despite all efforts, including the strengthening of legislation and increased patrolling, tiger conservation across the vast tropical forest landscape continue to face challenges."
"Poaching for illegal commercial trade is the greatest and most urgent threat to tigers in Malaysia, followed by loss and fragmentation of forests," said a joint statement by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat).
It was added that the new estimates were made from studies conducted between 2010 to 2013 using camera traps under a standardised protocol at seven sites across three major tiger landscapes in Peninsular Malaysia.
Though it said that more sites needed to be surveyed to determine a more robust tiger population estimate here, it added that the Malayan tiger now met the IUCN Red List criteria of "Critically Endangered".
It previously classified as "Endangered" in 2008.
Previous moves to increase Malaysia's tiger population to 1,000 by 2020, such as specified in the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan, were now considered "unachievable".
Immediate tiger conservation efforts are being explored, including the setting up of tiger patrol units in the Belum-Temengor, Taman Negara and Endau-Rompin tiger priority areas.
Also included were a comprehensive national Tiger Survey in the Peninsular's remaining major forest landscape, and the strengthening of existing forest and tiger conservation mechanisms.
It was added that though federal funding and donations from Mycat's NGO donors had helped thus far, more resources were needed.
There are no Malayan tigers in Borneo.
According to the Mycat website, tiger populations a century ago measured about 100,000 worldwide, declining to about less than 3,200 today.
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