Malaysian mammals face extinction

PETALING JAYA: At least a fifth of Malaysia’s mammal species, including the Sumatran serow, dugong and the Malayan tiger, face extinction, making the country one of the most dangerous for endangered animals.

Data from the World Bank showed that 70 of Malaysia’s 336 mammal species were threatened as of 2014, the seventh highest in the world in this category.

Some of Malaysia’s dying mammals include the Sumatran serow, Sumatran rhino, dugong, and the Malayan tiger, with many numbering only in the hundreds.

In South-East Asia, Malaysia is second only to Indonesia, which has 184 endangered mammal species, making it the number one in the world.

Although the World Bank does not say why, it is presumed that many mammals worldwide are dying out due to human activities such as logging, over-development, wildlife trafficking and poaching.

When contacted, local green groups said they were not surprised by the data.

TRAFFIC South-East Asia’s Elizabeth John said the region was well known for its biodiversity.

“Unfortunately, this makes the region a magnet for those wanting to plunder such resources,” said the senior communications officer.

She warned that other kinds of wildlife – birds, fish and plants – were also at risk.

Once these were lost, restoring them was not only expensive but almost impossible.

“It just makes more sense to invest in protection and fighting threats,” she said.

Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia director Dr Melvin Gumal said the data confirmed what biologists were seeing everyday.

“We must reverse this trend for if we don’t, our collective legacy will be the witnessing and documenting of the loss of our wildlife species,” he said.

Malaysian Nature Society president Henry Goh said stronger laws are needed against wildlife crime and more enforcement.

However, he said it was not just up to governments to solve the problem but the public and businesses as well.

“Everyone must do their part,” he said.

It was reported that nearly 100 live tigers and tiger parts were seized by authorities between 2000 and 2012.

It is a huge number as there may be only between 250 and 340 tigers left in Malaysia’s wild.

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