Malaysia urged to beef up war against tiger poaching

Malaysia urged to beef up war against tiger poaching

(AFP) – July 21, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s dwindling tiger population could be wiped out in less than a decade unless authorities quickly halt the illegal trade in tiger parts and poaching, a wildlife expert warned Tuesday.

Wildlife activists last week said that Malaysia, estimated to have just 500 tigers still living in the wild, was losing its battle to save the endangered big cats after a series of raids that netted tiger carcasses and bones.

“The two major threats we see here are poaching and illegal trade of tigers, and also the loss of habitats,” Washington-based Save the Tiger Fund director Mahendra Shrestha told AFP after a conference here on tiger conservation.

“The poaching level is becoming so high in many countries that if such things continue here maybe we will lose the tigers in less than a decade,” he said.

“All you need to do is to increase the law enforcement, to reduce levels of poaching threats …. because there is an increase in demand on tiger parts in all the countries,” he added.

Douglas Uggah Embas, natural resources and environment minister, said the government had sought the help of the military to battle poaching, adding that Malaysia was committed to an ambitious plan to double the tiger population to 1,000 by 2020.

“We hope by working together with the military and the local community, the enforcement will be more effective,” he told reporters.

“It is very challenging but it is not a hopeless war (to save tigers),” he added.

Last week, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MyCat) demanded that local authorities take action to stop the illegal trade in tiger parts.

It listed a series of seizures of dismembered tigers in recent months, from the Thai-Laos border right down to Malaysia itself, including three kilograms (six-and-a-half pounds) of tiger bones found in northeastern Kelantan state last month.

The coalition said that investigations into the seized tiger parts found that some were from sub-species not found in the wild in Asia, including the Siberian tiger.

It said the findings suggested that captive tigers, such as those found in zoos and theme parks, were finding their way into the illegal wildlife trade where they are butchered for traditional medicine.

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