Tiger poaching and trade rile up public and NGOs

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 16 Oct 2005

PETALING JAYA: Disgust, outrage and sorrow – the whole gamut of emotions came to the fore as people vented their anger over the butchering of a tiger, which was cut into four and stuffed in a refrigerator.  

“I felt like crying when I read the papers this morning,” said Valentine Siva, 66.  

The Government, added the public relations consultant, must impose harsher punishment on those who kill wild animals or “the day may come when our children may not even get to see a frog”. 

And Malaysian Trade Commissioner to Papua New Guinea Datuk Dr S. H. Foo – who hit the headlines by saving a tiger cub (subsequently named Nicky) from the cooking pot – has called for rewards to be given to encourage reporting of poaching activities. 

“It is pitiful to see a tiger cut up like that. We must also discourage people from consuming wildlife as many still believe that this can chase spirits away and give them energy.”  

On Thursday, forest rangers found the carcass of a protected Malayan tiger in Tumpat, Kelantan. A 22-year-old Thai has been arrested and is expected to be charged in connection with the case. 

The wave of reactions to the story and picture of the carcass in The Star included warning from environmental groups that the animal could become extinct if nothing was done to stop poaching and the consumption of tiger parts. 

Malaysian Nature Society response officer G. Chitra Devi said as long as there was demand, tiger trade would continue to thrive. 

She said one way to combat poaching was to ensure that the tiger's habitat was protected and there were proper buffer zones around the habitats.  

“The present penalties are insufficient to deter poachers and should be increased by at least 10-fold,” she added. 

Chris Shepherd, South-East Asia programme director of wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, said he was more disappointed than shocked to read that tiger poaching was on the rise. 

“It will be quite embarrassing for Malaysia to lose a national symbol as once the tigers disappear, you can't just bring them back. 

“If the rate of tiger poaching and loss of habitat continues, it is very likely that the tiger (estimated to be fewer than 500) will go extinct,” he said.  

Sahabat Alam Malaysia president S.M. Mohd Idris said increased political will, an awareness drive and stricter enforcement were all needed. 

“The latest incident is just the tip of the iceberg as it could be the work of organised poachers. With high prices and low risks, the trade is spiralling out of control,” he said.  

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