It is sad, really sad, that the Malaysian tiger population is rapidly declining despite many positive measures by the government and various NGOs. At a time when everything is stacked against the tiger due to climate change, poaching, loss of habitat, deforestation, logging and other factors, it will only be through proactive, creative and innovative steps that the tiger’s trek towards decimation and possibly extinction can be avoided.
As an ardent supporter of wildlife and conservation, I have listed some helpful suggestions.
Both the government departments and NGOs involved in the tiger protection and conservation efforts need more young blood to initiate new ideas and programmes to save the tiger.The efforts need more commitment and dedication on those involved.
In India the tiger population has begun to move up due to the special initiatives and close bond between the park rangers and the tiger. The job cannot be an 8-5 one and the officers need to go beyond the call of duty, and they need to equate the success of increasing the number of Malaysian tigers with their own career success. Only those who really love the tiger and other wildlife should consider a career in the wildlife department.
The Orang Asli need to be an integral part of the tiger conservation efforts. Presently, many of them are indifferent and not cooperating as they appear to have some grievances with the government concerning customary native rights. If the Orang Asli are actively involved, poaching can be reduced to zero.
The Orang Asli need to to be rewarded with economic benefits for helping in tiger conservation The Orang Asli can be employed in various efforts to ensure the success of tiger conservation as they are well versed with the jungle, and it will keep them from poaching on their own or helping other poachers. All logging, trapping, hunting, searching for agarwood and other activities should be strictly prohibited in the tiger reserves.
Impose a curfew from dusk to dawn in the tiger reserves with a shoot-to-kill order against poachers. Bring in the armed forces to patrol the tiger sanctuaries when poachers have been sighted. Ban all hunting with dogs as all wild animals ,big and small, including the tiger are stressed up due to the canines hunting in packs.
Hunting of wild boars, deer and other potential tiger prey should be totally banned even if they are numerous, and hunting permits should not be issued. A plentiful supply of tiger prey will translate into healthier tigers and more cubs.
Rope in more wildlife support groups, NGOs and individuals to help in the tiger conservation efforts through corporate sponsorships, donations and other contributions.
Impose strict speed limits on highways and roads running through the tiger sanctuaries and also install electric fences along the highway stretches where tigers have been known to frequently cross the road and endanger themselves. Warning signboards prohibiting unauthorised people from entering the tiger reserves should be placed at various spots along the borders.
Tourism is a big revenue earner in the country and a reasonable percentage of it should be allocated for the protection of wildlife, which is essential for eco-tourism. The Tourism Ministry should also come out with wildlife brochures to enlighten locals and tourists, and more documentaries about Malaysian wildlife should be aired in the various media to enable more Malaysians to care and be more concerned about the plight of wildlife.
Closely monitor the activities of villagers living close to the tiger reserves as there are many who own guns and may collaborate with the poachers. There needs to be effective intelligence gathering efforts to eliminate poaching to save the tiger. The government needs to get their cooperation through the provision of some economic benefits to the villagers especially from eco-tourism.
More focus on tiger cubs
Tiger cubs need to be watched closely to ensure that their survivability is almost 100 percent. Nursing tiger mothers need to be helped if food is scarce by placing animal carcasses near the dens. We have now come to a point where we have to save the tiger even through unnatural means. Camera traps as well as other technological advances need to be used to monitor both tigers and cubs.
More focus should be given to tiger cubs as they are the future to stop the decline in the tiger population.
Use motion- sensitive cameras and other technological means to monitor any illegal activity and alert the authorities. The rangers could also use trained dogs to hunt down the poachers. The government could also consider giving ‘denizenship’ status similar to human citizenship as a means to offer greater protection to endangered wildlife such as the tiger.
Such a status will enable the government to come with new legislation against poaching and killing of wildlife and mete out stiffer punishment. The killing of a tiger should be equated with murder or something close to it to ensure justified punishment. Worldwide many wild animals are ruthlessly being eliminate by poachers and unless these animals are protected through the enhanced denizenship status, there is no way to stop their extinction.
For a start arrested poachers and killers of endangered wildlife should be remanded and regarded as guilty and they need to prove their innocence, not the other way round as at present.
Helping depleted stock of tiger prey animals such as wild boar, deer, monkeys, seladang and others to recover and multiply by planting various fruit bearing trees ,banana trees, yam, tapioca and others as they soon grow and spread fast despite being eaten by the animals. A plentiful supply of food will mean more prey animals and this will be good for the tiger.
This is a sustainable method where there is a loss of habitat and should be considered to increase the number of animals the tiger is very much dependant on.
Malaysians need to be more concerned about the plight of the tiger and other wildlife and need to be more committed and dedicated in helping out with sponsorships, programmes and activities to save the tiger. Even though one may not be lucky enough to see a tiger in the wild, to know that there are a good number of them in the jungles will be a big consolation in the heart of the people.