Our tigers are going the way of the dodo


  • Letters Premium
  • Wednesday, 19 Jan 2022

Photo: Filepic/The Star

THERE are many reasons causing the dwindling of the Malayan tiger population in Malaysia but the fact remains that there are only about 150 tigers in our country’s jungles and they are about to go extinct.

The death of species takes place every day and that is a fact of life. However, many scientists believe the current rate of species extinction is faster than before. The world is now experiencing the sixth largest mass extinction event since the dinosaurs that will push millions of species to the brink of extinction within the next decade.

Unlike the mass extinction events of geological history, the current one is almost wholly the responsibility of a single species: humankind. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has pointed out that the effect of climate change and habitat loss due to human activities contribute to the crisis.

How and why have we come to this? On a deeper level, what are our environmental ethics? Do we even have them?

Woefully, it is the prevailing and pervasive anthropocentrism world-view that is at fault. This view sees all of nature as serving human interests, being of economic and practical benefit to humans only. We forget the interconnectedness of life and separate ourselves from nature.

Would we be happier to see Panthera tigris as a stuffed specimen in natural museums, sharing space with the dodo, the big flightless bird that became extinct in the 17th century? Hunted on its native island of Mauritius by sailors as well as invasive species, this bird disappeared with barely anyone noticing at the time. Despite more awareness of the plight of our tigers, will they fare any better? We began the process of their extinction so we must now protect these magnificent gifts from Nature.

Remember how small we are in the tree of life! Hopefully, it is not too late for environmental consciousness to replace anthropocentrism.

We don’t know or appreciate what we have until we lose it. And in this case it could well be our home, the planet Earth, that we lose.

CHEAH CHUN FAI

Sungai Siput, Perak

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