Saving the tiger from meat eaters
By : R. SITTAMPARAM
KAHANG, a hotbed for exotic meat trade, is home to the endangered Malayan Tiger. So is it any surprise that the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers is focusing its awareness campaign in this township? R. SITTAMPARAM finds out how successful Mycat’s efforts have been.
The very name sounds exotic, what more its location.
Kahang, a township of some 15,000 about 180km from Johor Baru, is the gateway to the famous Endau-Rompin National Park.
The park is a national jewel ? home to a wide variety of plants and wild animals, including the endangered Malayan Tiger.
“This park is one of the three priority areas for tigers in Malaysia in terms of worldwide conservation,” said Loretta Ann Soosayraj, the co-ordinator of Mycat, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers.
“This is why Mycat is focusing its tiger conservation programmes in Kahang.”
There are an estimated 3,000 tigers in the world, with Malaysia home to about 500.
“We kicked off our programme in July with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, raiding 10 restaurants in Kahang.
(Mycat’s other partners are the Malaysian Nature Society, The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (Traffic) Southeast Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund Malaysia.
More than 300kg of meat of several protected animal species were seized and a couple arrested. They are currently on police bail.
“Kahang has earned itself the dubious distinction of being the exotic meat connoisseur’s destination,” she said.
“This little town is infamous for its wild meat restaurants which serve a variety of wildlife meat ? some legal, some not.”
But Kahang could very well turn into a vital wildlife protection station.
“Our programme actually began in May with an outreach programme for the children of Kg Punan, an Orang Asli village near Endau-Rompin. The aim is to raise awareness and appreciation among the Orang Asli community, especially the younger generation, for the wildlife which shares their space.”
Mycat’s first Mandarin language tiger conservation outreach programme for pupils of Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (Cina) Kahang was held in August.
“The aim of these programmes is to reduce the local trade in and the consumption of tigers and tiger prey species,
“The day-long programme at SRJK (C) Kahang focused on teaching the children about tigers and why tigers need saving,” said Soosayraj. “The response from students and parents has been good.”
“We managed to reach out to adults through the children who were put through tiger drawing competitions and other tiger-related activities.
“The enthusiasm of the children brushed off on the parents and we saw them showing deep involvement in our programme.”
The children signed a pledge on a giant card to love and conserve the wildlife population in the surrounding jungles, including the Endau-Rompin park.
“There appears to be a big market for tiger bones for use in traditional medicines, while the meat is used to make a soup that is believed to cure illnesses and improve sexual prowess.”
Tai Suk Peng, 37, who accompanied her three children studying at SRJK (C) Kahang to the Mycat programme, said she hoped Kahang would shake off its bad reputation as a destination for exotic meat.
“I hope this Mycat programme can help to raise the awareness among our youth that endangered species of animals like the tiger should be conserved and not hunted and eaten to extinction.
“Traders in Kahang need not depend on this illegal animal trade as the area is rich in agricultural produce.”
Housewife, Yeo Sok Khem, 37, hoped the Mycat programme would be held annually as her two children enjoyed it very much.
Standard Six students Lim Hao Jie and Chee Jun Hong praised the Mycat programme.
“We learnt a lot about the tiger,” said Lim.
“The tiger is such a majestic animal and I hope it can continue to live in our jungles. The killing of tigers must stop or all our tigers will be gone.”
Racing against time
MYCAT is organising “The Race Against Time” in collaboration with Zoo Negara on Dec 16 with the goal of empowering Malaysians to become conservation advocates.
The event at Zoo Negara, from 9am to 5pm, is the urban outreach component of the nationwide awareness campaign.
It’s three specific objectives are to:
– Raise awareness and concern among Malaysians on the critical status of tigers and urgent need for action
– Empower Malaysians, especially the youth, to take a proactive role in efforts to reduce the trade in tigers and tiger prey
– Encourage Malaysian youth to take up careers in wildlife conservation
The event will be launched by Mycat Tiger ambassadors Ning Baizura, Vince Chong, Yasin Yahaya, Susan Lankester, Rina Omar, Aishah Sinclair, Xandria Ooi, Chelsia Ng, Maple Loo and Corinne Adrienne
They will also launch the Tiger Crime Hotline, which is a tool to enhance enforcement of wildlife laws, enabling Malaysians to report illegal activities to the authorities for timely action, and the Signature Campaign for the urgent amendment of the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972, the main legislation for wildlife in Malaysia. The 35-year-old act needs a major facelift to fight today’s crime against wildlife.
For The Tiger
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