Malaysia to double tiger population by next year: government

AFP Google News 5 Nov 09;

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's deputy premier has announced plans to double the population of the endangered Malayan Tiger through a new initiative to manage and conserve the big cat in its natural environment.

Muhyiddin Yassin said the government's new biodiversity council had adopted the National Tiger Action Plan in a bid to boost the dwindling population.

The plan targets an increase in the Malayan tiger population "to 1,000 by 2020 in their natural habitat," he told state media Bernama late Wednesday.

"We will take concrete efforts to protect the tigers, including in situ conservation efforts. The aim is to also widen the area where wildlife is protected."

Wildlife activists have welcomed the government's endorsement of the plan, urging greater enforcement of laws to protect the animals.

"High level support behind the action plan is crucial not just to save tigers but their habitat and prey species," Chris Shepherd, acting head of wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC Southeast Asia told AFP.

A "decline in their prey base" is one of the key threats to the tigers, he added.

The government said in July it has also sought the help of the military to battle poaching, which wildlife activists say has reduced the number of Malayan Tigers in the wild from around 3000 in the 1950s to fewer than 500 tigers now.

"Enforcement in Malaysia and across tiger-range states needs to be stepped up as tiger (numbers) have declined so sharply in the last few years," Shepherd added.

"We are not going to be able to save tigers unless enforcement and deterrents are in place."

Tiger parts are used in traditional medicine across the region. Last month, wildlife authorities rescued a Malayan tiger from a snare set up by poachers near the country's jungle border with Thailand. The animal died from its wounds shortly after.

Work closer on wildlife
Farrah Naz Karim, The Star 5 Nov 09;

PUTRAJAYA: The deputy prime minister has called to heighten joint enforcement initiatives among state governments, the Wildlife Department and Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department to curb encroachment and poaching.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said this was one of the many steps needed to ensure the sound management and conservation of biodiversity.

Effective measures would enable Malaysia to enjoy its rich biodiversity as a new source of wealth, he said in a statement yesterday after chairing the sixth National Biodiversity-Biotechnology Council, now renamed the National Biodiversity Council.

He said the council had agreed to expand the National Biodiversity Integrated Spatial Data Base Development Project to the whole peninsula (Phase 1) as well as pilot areas in Sabah and Sarawak (Phase 2).

The project, which uses remote sensing technology and geographical information system, would be a more effective way of creating a balance between biodiversity conversation and development.

"The council is also taking note of efforts by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry in keeping an inventory of the country's biodiversity wealth. It is crucial for us to know our biodiversity and the need for conservation to use it as a driver of new wealth," he said.

The council also adopted the paper Common Vision on Biodiversity aimed at driving biodiversity into the mainstream of the country's development.

This, he said, would require all sectors and activities related to biodiversity to take into account sustainable management, conservation and utilisation of biodiversity.

A National Biodiversity Centre would be set up in line with the National Diversity Biology policy, which is aimed at strengthening the institutional framework for the management of biology diversity.

The issue of Malayan tigers, which are fast dwindling in numbers, was also touched on at the meeting attended by several ministers, menteris besar and chief ministers.

The council adopted the National Tigers Action Plan (NTAP), an integrated approach for the management and conservation of the Malayan tiger in its natural habitats.

The plan, Muhyiddin said, was to save the rare species from extinction as they now numbered about 500, from 3,000 in the 1950s.

The NTAP, among others, would focus on the conservation of tigers in-situ at conservation sites.

"Through this action plan, the management of the tigers' habitat could be strengthened by increasing the wildlife corridor network and protection areas."

With the plan in place, Muhyiddin said the council expected the number of Malayan tigers to increase to 1,000 by next year.

Muhyiddin announces plan to double tiger population
The Star 5 Nov 09;

PUTRAJAYA: A comprehensive plan to double the country’s tiger population is in the works.

The plan, to be adopted by the National Biodiversity-Biotechnology Council, aims to manage and protect the animal from extinction and increase its numbers in the wild to 1,000 by the year 2020.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the country could not afford to lose the tiger as it was a subspecies unique to Malay­­sia.

According to official records, Malaysia’s tiger population was estimated at 3,000 in the 1950s but current figures showed a drastic drop to between 450 and 500 only.

“We will take concrete efforts to protect the tigers, including in situ conservation efforts. The aim is also to widen the area where wildlife is protected,” he said after chairing the council’s sixth meeting yesterday.

Those present included Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Unggah Embas, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Maximus Ongkili, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin, and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed.

Malaysian Tiger Action Plan adopted
TRAFFIC 5 Nov 09;

The Government in Malaysia has endorsed a Tiger Action Plan that aims to see 1,000 wild animals in the country by 2020 Click photo to enlarge © Roger Hooper / WWF-Canon Kuala Lumpur, 5 November 2009—Malaysia’s roadmap to saving its wild tigers has received its most solid endorsement yet—a firm and clear commitment from Government to protect the species and the places it calls home.

The National Tiger Action Plan was officially adopted by Malaysia’s National Biodiversity-Biotechnologys Council yesterday. It is a detailed document that government and environmental NGOs jointly shaped over the past two years.

Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who chairs the Council said the government would take concrete efforts to protect the Tigers, double their number by 2020 and widen the area where wildlife is protected.

The high-powered Council counts Ministers of Environment, Health, Education, Science, Technology and Innovation as well as International Trade and Ministry among its members.

Consultations on the draft plan between the Wildlife and National Parks Department and a coalition of NGOs that formed the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) began in 2006. The coalition comprises TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, WWF Malaysia, Malaysian Nature Society and the Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme.

The plan, which was completed and released late 2007, spells out the direction and specific actions that government agencies and NGOs must carry out between 2008 and 2015 to secure a future for wild Malayan Tiger populations.

These actions include securing ample Tiger habitats, ensuring connectivity of habitats, protecting Tiger prey-species and enforcement against poachers and has even been built into spatial and infrastructure development planning.

Its overall indicator of success will be 1,000 wild Tigers surviving on wild prey in the year 2020, in a secured, well-connected swathe of forest that runs through the centre of Peninsular Malaysia, referred to as the Central Forest Spine.

Malaysia currently has an estimated 500 wild Tigers, down from about 3,000 in the 1950s.

“This is a monumental step forward for conservation of Malaysia’s Tigers and all wildlife,” said Chris R. Shepherd, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Acting-Director.

“There’s much work ahead to realize the plan and many problems to address, but this is exactly the kind of commitment we hope all Tiger range States will show.

Among those problems, which the Council also addressed, were threats posed by encroachment into protected areas and poaching. The Deputy Prime Minister called on the all State Governments, the Wildlife and National Parks Department and the Forestry Department to work towards curbing the problem.

The adoption of the plan is a timely boost for conservation efforts and comes at a critical time for Tiger and Tiger prey survival. Poaching levels are high, as indicated by numerous recent illegal activities in Malaysia’s forests.

In July, the government took another crucial step towards protecting Tiger prey-species by placing a two-year ban on the hunting of Sambar and Barking Deer.

Most recently, on October 26, Wildlife and National Parks Department arrested two men for poaching two Barking Deer, just off a highway that cuts through a biodiversity rich forest in the north of Peninsular Malaysia.

The men, both from the town of Gerik in Perak, will face charges under Section 68 of the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972 for possession of a protected species and could face up to RM3,000 in fines or a maximum three years in prison, or both, upon conviction.

Wildlife officers in Gerik town alone have handled 16 cases involving poachers so far this year, Perak State Wildlife Department Director Shabrina Mohd Shariff said.

In May, authorities caught two men with the skull and bones of a Tiger and arrested Cambodian poachers in Malaysia’s forests with wildlife parts. Just last month, a Tiger was found in a snare by authorities and WWF’s wildlife protection unit, unfortunately it died of its injures.