Singaporeans urged to help save Malayan tigers

Audrey Tan The Straits Times AsiaOne 30 Sep 14;

Tigers in Malaysia are in trouble, and conservationists there are hoping for help from Singapore.

The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) is urging Singaporeans to visit the Taman Negara National Park in Pahang, which was home to about 90 wild Malayan tigers in 2001.

The number has declined due to poaching though there is nocurrent information on how many of the tigers are actually left.

But the presence of eco-tourists can ward off poachers hoping to set snares that will trap the gigantic cats, said Mycat general manager and wildlife biologist Kae Kawanishi. Mycat organises "cat walks" - short for Citizen Action for Tigers - at the 4,343 sq km park on weekends.

Today, only 250 to 340 Malayan tigers are left roaming the jungles of Malaysia - the only place in the world where these large cats are found.

These animals are at the top of the food chain in the forest eco-system, but are threatened by poachers that kill them for their meat or body parts used for ornaments or traditional Chinese medicine.

The Malayan tiger has been listed as "endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List since 2008.

But the species can now meet the IUCN criteria for a "critically endangered" listing, said Mycat and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) Peninsular Malaysia in a joint statement on Sept 15.

Said Dr Kawanishi: "A population of about 300 wild tigers should be able to bounce back - they just need our protection to do so."

A fund-raising dinner attended by about 160 guests was held at HortPark last night in support of initiatives to save the Malayan tiger.
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