WWF-Malaysia and Maybank sharpen resolve in renewed alliance to safeguard Malayan tigers

WWF-Malaysia’s team of rangers and field officers. - Photo by MOHD FIKRI ZAIDAN/WWF-Malaysia

EARLIER this month on March 19, WWF-Malaysia and Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) announced the continuation of their strategic partnership aimed at strengthening Malayan tiger conservation efforts in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex. This renewed commitment, spanning the next four years from 2024 to 2027, demonstrates unwavering dedication to safeguarding one of Malaysia’s most iconic species amidst escalating incidents of human-tiger conflict.

Maybank has pledged RM1.55mil for the first year of the four-year project, enabling WWF-Malaysia to continue its existing work in the landscape.

This funding will support critical initiatives aimed at ensuring the survival of the Malayan tiger and fostering harmony between wildlife and local communities.

“As we continue to address the ongoing conflicts between humans, predators and prey, it is crucial that appropriate actions are taken to promote coexistence, conserve biodiversity and maintain a balanced ecosystem,” said Maybank group corporate affairs head Izlyn Ramli, who is also Maybank Foundation chief executive officer (CEO).

There are fewer than 150 Malayan tigers left in the wild. - Photo by SHARIFF MOHAMAD/WWF-MalaysiaThere are fewer than 150 Malayan tigers left in the wild. - Photo by SHARIFF MOHAMAD/WWF-Malaysia

“On this point, Maybank’s conservation journey to date is deeply rooted in our purpose-driven mission of humanising financial services which saw notable outcomes favouring the Malayan tiger.

“Through this renewed partnership with WWF-Malaysia, we strive not only to safeguard our tigers and bring about sustainable transformations in Belum-Temengor but also enrich the lives of local communities for generations to come,” added Izlyn.

The renewed partnership will encompass a holistic and comprehensive approach, concentrating efforts on five focus areas:

> Protection - Strengthening on-the-ground protection efforts through community ranger patrols, advocacy for enhanced protection measures and capacity-building for law enforcement.

> Monitoring - Implementing continuous monitoring protocols to track tiger populations and prey abundance.

> Prey augmentation - Prioritising habitat enrichment and prey augmentation to bolster the tiger’s prey base.

> Community empowerment - Implementing mitigation measures for human-wildlife conflict management and enhancing community engagement.

> Effective Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS) management - Supporting effective CA|TS management through addressing existing gaps and advocating for commitment at the state level and establishing National CA|TS committee at the federal level.

The urgency of the situation is underscored by the escalating incidents of human-tiger conflict in the region. In response, the partnership’s focus on prey augmentation, among other strategies, is crucial for the safety of both humans and tigers. It is of utmost urgency to ensure sufficient prey available to lure the tigers back into the forest, mitigating conflicts and protecting both species.

“Our actions today shape tomorrow’s outcomes,” emphasised WWF-Malaysia executive director and chief executive officer Sophia Lim.

The Malayan tiger is the smallest subspecies in the South-East Asian region and are excellent swimmers. - Photo by SHARIFF MOHAMAD/WWF-MalaysiaThe Malayan tiger is the smallest subspecies in the South-East Asian region and are excellent swimmers. - Photo by SHARIFF MOHAMAD/WWF-Malaysia

“Beyond just saving the critically endangered tiger, it’s about reinstating natural balance in our forests. Wild animals are absolutely integral to the ecosystem, and their endangerment disrupts the delicate harmony, impacting us all in the long run.

“We have made encouraging strides in our tiger conservation journey, thanks to Maybank’s strong support, which has been instrumental in safeguarding the future of our national icon,” she added.

According to WWF-Malaysia, since tigers are territorial animals, they require large areas of forest to roam. It has been estimated that a roaming area for a male tiger is 300 sqkm and 100 sqkm for females. In general, a male tiger’s roaming area overlaps with three female tigers, and they are usually solitary animals, except for when they are mating or when the mothers are nurturing their young. Tiger cubs will stay with their mother until they are two years old after which, they will set off on their own.

WWF-Malaysia and Maybank have collaborated since 2016, through the Strengthening Tiger Conservation in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex programme, which has seen significant achievements.

This includes the deactivation of 238 active snares and reaching the milestone of zero active snares since 2022, showcasing the tangible impact of on-the-ground efforts.

Additionally, intensive training and capacity building initiatives have been conducted for the orang asli rangers, enhancing their skills and effectiveness in patrolling and wildlife protection.

In 2023, Royal Belum State Park became the first CA|TS accredited site in both Malaysia and South-East Asia, a global recognition for exceptional conservation efforts and commitment to tiger conservation.

The partnership between WWF-Malaysia and Maybank underscores the power of collaboration in conservation, demonstrating a shared commitment to preserving Malaysia’s rich biodiversity for future generations.

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