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Southeast Asia's Tigers Are in Desperate Need of Saving

Malayan tiger. Photo from the Facebook of MYCAT

Malayan tiger. Photo from the Facebook of MYCAT

Southeast Asia is home to several tiger species that are considered endangered because of habitat loss and poaching.

In Malaysia, only 250 to 340 wild Malayan tigers are left. Cambodia’s wild tiger population is estimated to be no more than 30. Vietnam and Laos also have 30 wild tigers each. About 350 endangered Indochinese tigers are left in the Greater Mekong Region. Around 400 Sumatran tigers are left in Indonesia.

To increase the number of wild Malayan tigers, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers or MYCAT has proposed the deployment of more tiger patrol units and the review of the implementation of the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan and Central Forest Spine Master Plan. The group also urged the government to conduct another National Tiger Survey, and aims to increase the number of wild tigers to 1,000 in the next five years.

Tiger locations in the Greater Mekong Region. Image from WWF

Tiger locations in the Greater Mekong Region. Image from WWF

Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund or WWF has expressed alarm over the substantial decline of wild tigers in the Greater Mekong Region, which it considers as the largest combined wild tiger habitat on Earth. In 1998 there were 1,200 Indochinese tigers in the forests of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam but now they are down to 350.

According to WWF, poachers have targeted tigers “to meet increasing demand for tiger body parts used in traditional medicine.” Tigers also suffered from “habitat fragmentation” caused by “unsustainable infrastructure development.” The commercial demand for tiger meat in restaurants is also another reason why tigers continue to be hunted and killed in the wild. Meanwhile, the rapid destruction of forest lands in the island of Sumatra is the main threat to the endangered Sumatran tigers.

This video of a camera trap in Sumatra was able to document Sumatran tiger cubs in the wild:

Southeast Asian governments should work with environmentalists to protect the remaining wild tigers in the region. It's important that they remind the public that tigers are more valuable alive than dead.

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