Malaysia’s deputy premier has announced plans to double the population of the endangered Malayan Tiger through a new initiative to manage and conserve the big cat in its natural environment.
Muhyiddin Yassin said the government’s new biodiversity council had adopted the National Tiger Action Plan in a bid to boost the dwindling population.
The plan targets an increase in the Malayan tiger population “to 1,000 by 2020 in their natural habitat,” he told state media Bernama late Wednesday.
“We will take concrete efforts to protect the tigers, including in situ conservation efforts. The aim is to also widen the area where wildlife is protected.”
Wildlife activists have welcomed the government’s endorsement of the plan, urging greater enforcement of laws to protect the animals.
“High level support behind the action plan is crucial not just to save tigers but their habitat and prey species,” Chris Shepherd, acting head of wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC Southeast Asia told AFP.
A “decline in their prey base” is one of the key threats to the tigers, he added.
The government said in July it has also sought the help of the military to battle poaching, which wildlife activists say has reduced the number of Malayan Tigers in the wild from around 3000 in the 1950s to fewer than 500 tigers now.
“Enforcement in Malaysia and across tiger-range states needs to be stepped up as tiger (numbers) have declined so sharply in the last few years,” Shepherd added.
“We are not going to be able to save tigers unless enforcement and deterrents are in place.”
Tiger parts are used in traditional medicine across the region. Last month, wildlife authorities rescued a Malayan tiger from a snare set up by poachers near the country’s jungle border with Thailand. The animal died from its wounds shortly after.