Hope yet for the tiger

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Hope yet for the tiger

Total revamp needed to protect the species in Malaysia, says Natural Resources and Environment Minister

Pauline Almeida
Thursday, November 19th, 2009 07:33:00

IN line with the aspirations of the country to increase the wild tiger population, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will be conducting an internal audit aimed at strengthening its enforcement sector.

This will identify its weaknesses from manpower shortage to resources and improving competency in guarding the State parks in the country, said Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas.

“We will also be coming up with our terms of reference for the internal audit. This will be our first time trying to get ourselves active in making sure our enforcement is effective,” Embas said yesterday. He also said the ministry will be looking into complaints over poor or lack of enforcement, plus if there is a need to add more wildlife rangers and provide skills training and education for the existing enforcement personnel.

This should address some concerns about international poachers who could derail the government’s efforts to increase the tiger population, he said, adding that there is a global biodiversity movement calling for the conservation of tigers initiated by India and a summit on tiger conservation next year. Malaysia as one of the few countries that boasts of tigers in its wild, have taken a similar path, Embas added.

There are about 1,500 wildlife rangers and there is a need to increase it to a few hundred more, said a source.

While the country has the necessary legislation like the new Protection and Wildlife Act — which is expected to be tabled in Parliament soon — the source advised the public to alert the authorities when they spot encroachment in the State parks or forest reserves.

“Don’t just complain. We need the cooperation of the public and the country at large,” he said. There is also the Tiger Action Plan, which among others aims to secure the Central Forest Spine with strictly protected priority
areas in landscapes connected with corridors (see accompanying story). The plan is also set to provide effective and long-term protection of tigers and its prey.

It was reported that the government will work towards a plan to increase the population of tigers in the wild from the current 450 to 1,000 by 2020.

According to the National Biodiversity-Biotechnology Council, it will undertake efforts to manage and protect the species from extinction and increase its numbers in the country. Part of the efforts for the species is also to widen the area where wildlife is protected.

Two months ago, Malay Mail reported that the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would be meeting with State government representatives in October to discuss the management of State parks. The move was to stop encroachment or illegal activities and for the preservation of wildlife in the long-term.

Boost for the big cat
THE Tiger Action Plan — which intends to have 1,000 wild tigers surviving in the wild by the year 2020 — sprung from the need for a road map to save the fastdisappearing Malayan tiger.

Recognising that the tiger is being threatened by habitat loss, forest fragmentation, poaching, illegal trade of its parts and derivatives, depletion of prey and human-tiger conflict, the Tiger Action Plan is to be carried out by 2015.

The initiative began last year and the plan was developed in accordance with existing government policies and framework.

It promises to be a practical instrument linking conservation ideals to giving wild tigers a future — beyond the next century.

This is expected to be attained through key forest areas providing on-the-ground protection of tigers and its prey.

It identifies three core areas, namely the Belum-Temengor Complex, the Greater Taman Negara Complex and the Endau- Rompin Complex, according to Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers or MyCat, a non- governmental organisation.

MyCat’s goal, among others, is to provide effective protection for tigers and its prey from poaching and trade.

Its purpose is to promote the practise of ecologically sound land-use — compatible with tiger conservation
— outside protected areas.

It is a joint-programme of the Malaysian Nature Society, Traffic Southeast Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme and WWF Malaysia, supported by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia.

Where the tigers roam
WITHIN Malaysia, tigers in the wild are found only on the peninsula and mainly in three landscapes.

The Main Range Landscape (20,000 sq km) is in the west of the mainland and runs from the Malaysia-Thai border to Negri Sembilan.

It’s connected to the second landscape, the Greater Taman Negara (15,000 sq km) to the east, which includes Taman Negara National Park, the country’s largest protected area.

Then, there is the Southern Forest Landscape (10,000 sq km), south of the Pahang River but it is isolated from both the former landscapes.

These forest landscapes form the basis for spatial planning in tiger conservation in Malaysia and each has
a priority core area — Belum-Temengor Complex, Taman Negara, and Endau-Rompin Complex.

A critical link that still exists and must be actively maintained to ensure connectivity across the landscapes is a strip of forest connecting the Main Range and Taman Negara in Pahang.



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