‘We can expect more wildlife-human conflicts’

PETALING JAYA: The recent attacks by wild tigers against humans are an indicator of how much forest we have lost in terms of the tiger landscape, says Andrew Sebastian.

The Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia president and chief executive officer said more wildlife and human conflicts were likely to take place if more forest and tiger landscapes were taken away.

“There will be more attacks to come, so we hope immediate actions are taken to ensure both wildlife and humans are protected. The authorities should act swiftly to compensate farmers who have lost livestock, people who have been injured, and those who have lost their lives.

“But the bigger picture is that the government should look at forest destruction, especially when the number of Malayan tigers is at a very critical level,” he said when contacted.

Sebastian was responding to the latest attack by a tiger against a Myanmar national at a rubber plantation in Meranto in Gua Musang, Kelantan, which was the third incident since last month.

He said it would be best to increase patrolling and prepare for human-wildlife conflict contingencies, especially along contiguous wildlife corridors that are connected.

Rubber tappers in the area should also be educated about such conflicts, he said.

Asked about the behaviour of tigers once they have preyed on humans, Sebastian said the popular belief was that once they have tasted human flesh and blood as a source of food, it was best to have them captured as soon as possible.

“It is best to relocate the tigers back into the wild according to science and the available data,” he said.

WWF-Malaysia said the recent spate of human-tiger encounters raised grave concerns for both human safety and the long-term survival of tigers in Malaysia.

It said the lack of large prey in the forest was a primary factor driving tigers out to seek out alternative food sources, including domestic livestock, often bringing them into conflict with humans.

The organisation said this in reference to a Nov 9 incident where a Malayan tiger was found dead by a highway barrier along the North-South Expressway in Gopeng, Perak, believed to have been struck by a heavy vehicle.

“Urgent interventions are needed to safeguard human lives, strengthen the management of protected areas, and enhance prey populations to give the tigers enough food to survive in the forests,” it said.

“This is crucial to reduce conflict and re-establish ecological balance to ensure the conservation of these magnificent creatures in their natural ecosystems.”

Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring group, said the recent incident where a tiger was knocked down along a highway showed that the animal faced multiple threats.

“In this case, the tiger is believed to have been forced to roam further in search of prey. The wild boar population has been significantly impacted by the outbreak of African Swine Fever, leading to substantial losses in their numbers.

“Illegal wildlife hunting and trafficking also contribute to a shortage of prey that may force tigers to go beyond their usual territory in search of food,” it said on its Facebook page.

Previously, an Indonesian rubber tapper was mauled by a tiger in Kuala Wok, near Pos Pasik, Kelantan.

In early October, an Orang Asli man was found dead with a leg missing in the Pos Pasik forest and with animal scratch marks on his head and body.

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