Malaysia: What will become of our national emblem if the Malayan tiger becomes extinct?

ADRIAN DAVID New Straits Times 21 Apr 16;

KUALA TERENGGANU: What will be the significance of Malaysia’s national emblem if the Malayan tiger becomes extinct?

This was the poser raised by the Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, who shared his concern in a special documentary titled ‘Harimau Selamanya’ to be screened on World Earth Day tomorrow (Friday).

The Sultan made a special appearance in the five-minute documentary that highlights the critically endangered Malayan Tiger.

“Imagine a world without tigers. I think we will experience the loss of a creature made by Allah that is essential to the ecosystem.

“What is the meaning of our national emblem if tigers go extinct? The national spirit will fade if tigers are gone,” said the Sultan.

The ‘Harimau Selamanya’ documentary will be screened to educate Malaysians, especially Muslims, to protect earth, its creatures and to take better care of our planet’s precious biodiversity.

Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s Kenyir Research Institute and Rimba co-founder Associate Professor Dr. Gopalasamy Reuben Clements said that the documentary would be screened to highlight poaching of the critically-endangered Malayan Tiger.

“This five-minute documentary will highlight the need to protect our environment in the context of Islam, with a special focus on the plight of the Malayan tiger and how we are failing in our collective duty to safeguard it.

“It will include a special appearance by the Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, along with experts who will impart their knowledge on the responsibility of good Muslims to protect the planet and its creatures,” said Clements.

‘Harimau Selamanya’ is produced by award-winning film-makers Novista Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the the Sultan, the Wildlife and Parks Department and non-profit conservation research group Rimba.

Clements said that the documentary would be available on YouTube and aired by Media Prima on its channels.

“The Malayan tiger is now officially listed as critically-endangered in the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN) ‘Red List of Threatened Species’.

“Evidence indicates that the number of mature tigers in Malaysia may be as low as 250, and they are facing extinction,” he said.

Clements added that besides habitat loss, poaching of tigers was the other main threat to their survival.

“The demand for tiger products such as meat, skins, bones and other body parts is driving the species to extinction,” he said.

The documentary, thus, highlights the tenets of Islam, which forbid Muslims from hunting any species to extinction.

Such acts are declared as ‘haram’ and every follower is duty bound as ‘caliphs’ to protect Allah’s creations.

Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM) representative Rosmidzatul Azila said there were people who sold parts of tigers as amulets and as food.

“This is against Islam. The prophet’s hadith said that when Allah forbids you to eat something, the sale of it is also sinful even if we sell it to a person that is not a Muslim,” she said.

On November 2015, Terengganu became the first state to declare a fatwa prohibiting the illegal hunting of wildlife, especially tigers and their prey such as the sambar deer.

Terengganu mufti Datuk Dr Zulkifly Muda, said that issues about the environment, especially wildlife, had been neglected.

“People have hunted animals as they please, without considering the consequences of hunting, which can deplete animals in the forest and cause an imbalance in the environment,” he said.

Wildlife and National Parks deputy director-general Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said the sambar deer population was declining due to hunting.

“Malaysians have alternatives now and no longer need to consume deer for food. Let them be in the forest for the sake of conservation and be food for the tigers,” he said.