PROTECTING TIGERS AND THEIR HABITAT
Why protect tigers?
POPULATION IN MALAYSIA
Less than 200
Tropical rainforests, evergreen forests, temperate forests, mangrove swamps, grasslands, and savannas
THEIR HOME … is getting smaller!
THREATS TO THEIR SURVIVAL
POACHING AND ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE
There has been a spike in snares set by poaching syndicates. Snares pose a major threat to the survival of tigers. Between 2016 to 2018, a total of 685 snares were discovered by WWF patrol teams in Malaysia.
LOSS OF PREY
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Since how long WWF is working on tiger conservation project? and how long does WWF continue to support Malayan tigers?WWF started working to conserve the Malayan tigers in Malaysia since the early 2000s. Tiger conservation needs long-term strategies to strengthen community efforts at tiger landscapes, safeguard habitats against poachers and advocate for effective management of forests.
Since 2010 where 13 tiger range countries made an international pledge to double the number of wild tigers - Malaysia (where the Malayan tigers are native to) was a signatory of the commitment. But in fact, Malaysia has already planned to double the number of wild tigers two years prior in 2008 as part of the Tiger Conservation Action Plan. Then, we wanted to increase our Malayan tiger numbers from 500 to 1,000 by 2020. But instead of doubling the numbers, there are only less than 200 Malayan tigers left in the world. We need urgent action today to stop the Malayan tigers from disappearing.
What is WWF doing about tiger farms in Asia?We believe that the movement of tiger products from tiger farms into the marketplace (through legal or illegal channels) negatively impacts enforcement efforts directed against those who trade in tigers poached from the wild. This is of great concern given that poaching remains the greatest threat to conservation of the species at this time.
WWF has been involved on the matter of tiger farms for a considerable time. It was one of the NGOs leading the push for the adoption of Decision 14.69 in the lead up CITES CoP14 in the Netherlands. In recent years, WWF has sought to raise the issue of tiger farms via direct engagement with government figures in those countries which allow such farms to operate. We understand now is the time to return to a more public approach on the issue, given the growth in tiger farms and the evidence that illegal trade from these farms has increased.
With the limitation in human patrols, has the office explored the use of technology to aid in this aspect?WWF-Malaysia has successfully used MMS camera-traps to monitor major access points into the forest. These act on the same premise as normal camera-traps, but they transmit photos to our handphones via MMS in real-time, so that this information can be channelled to the authorities for action to be taken. This has resulted in a number of arrests over the years. We are also pilot testing the use of SMART connect, a tool used to collect poaching and patrolling information on our handphones instead of hand-held GPS units. This will enable the data to be uploaded straight into the server, instead of manually inputting the data on to the computer software after the teams get back from the field. This should increase the efficiency of our data entry. We will continue to explore further on the use of technology such as bioacoustics and other emerging elements.
How is WWF helping communities in these areas right now?The context is different in each place. Some villages we work with have strong COVID response policies and are limiting gatherings to no more than 5 people. In other places they are testing all people who arrive to the village and decide entry based on that. This shows strong leadership from those communities. In other landscapes we are assisting where possible to provide hand sanitiser and face masks - but these are always based on WWF’s ability to fund these, which in some cases is very challenging.
There are reports of rangers also supporting local communities, and vice-versa. While rangers are dealing with all of these issues many are standing out as leaders in their communities as well as protecting the wildlife that depend upon them. For instance, in the Indian province of Rajasthan rangers are donating one day’s salary per week for the next three months to COVID-19 relief funds.
How is tiger trade or illegal wildlife sale linked to COVID-19?COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, meaning it jumped from wildlife to humans. This comes as no surprise. Many recent disease outbreaks, including SARS and Ebola, followed this same arc. During this time of crisis, we've seen and learnt that when nature is not protected, it puts our health, well-being, economies, food security, clean air and water sources at risk.
Besides funding, what is the biggest challenge faced in tiger conservation?The second biggest challenge is to make sure that enabling conditions such political will, sustained government funding and allocation of resources are either enhanced, created or allocated so that tigers will stand a chance to recover over the long term.