Society working to ensure survival of endangered big cat

KUALA LUMPUR: There is little chance left to save the highly endangered Malayan tiger species and conservation efforts should not be in the hands of the government alone, says the Tiger Protection Society of Malaysia (Rimau).

Its president Lara Ariffin said Rimau is playing its part to save what is left of the fewer than 150 endemic species that can only be found in Malaysia, by working together with various stakeholders to stop poaching activities in Royal Belum State Park in Gerik, Perak.

“Rimau is engaging in various joint efforts with relevant parties, such as the Wildlife and National Parks Department of Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan), to put an end to tiger poaching activities.

“For starters, we have the Menraq Patrol Unit comprising 30 rangers of the indigenous Jahai tribe, focused on monitoring poachers at the Royal Belum State Park, where the tribe had lived for generations,” she told Bernama here on Thursday after receiving a mock cheque of RM38,888 from Habib in support of the cause.

Lara said the unit created with the help of the Perak State Parks Corporation has limited functions as they can only monitor poachers from a distance with no power to apprehend them.

She said working with the corporation that has the authority to do so, has helped in achieving their cause, adding that the Malayan tigers are in high demand, especially from Vietnam and China, for their body parts.

From the head, bones and tails to the skin, even their whiskers are now being used as acupuncture needles in China.

“It is very heartbreaking to see not only tigers, but also other wild animals with their body parts permanently damaged by snares and traps.

“Some were seen roaming around with only three legs as a result,” she lamented.

Asked if Rimau will engage in breeding efforts to multiply the number of Malayan tigers, Lara said this was a last resort and not a viable option in conserving tigers.

“To a certain extent, tigers are like domestic cats. They need three things to be able to breed naturally and smoothly, which are a home, that is the forests; food and protection,” she explained.

According to Lara, they are deprived of all of these due to increasing deforestation and logging activities. When tigers, particularly those with cubs, are chased out of their natural habitats, they get displaced from their territory and the cubs are at risk of being eaten by other animals.

As such, Rimau is in dire need of intensifying conservation efforts and they call on members of the public who are interested in joining the cause of saving the Malayan tigers to do so as depending on government agencies alone, was not practical.

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