Episode 5 – Malayan Tigers

Fast Facts:

• There are only an estimated 500 wild Malayan tigers left on Peninsula Malaysia.
• Three other sub-species of tiger are already extinct
• Conflicts between humans and animals, including tigers, are a serious problem in many parts of the world.
• As wildlife is squeezed into ever smaller areas, with their natural food sources depleted, they are forced to turn to crops or livestock. The animals that attack people and villages are often killed, captured or harmed in retaliation. These conflicts, and habitat loss, are two of the main threats to the continued survival of many species, and a major problem for many impoverished communities around the world.
• In 2002-2005, five people were killed in Jeli and there were 30 cattle killed.
• Solving these conflicts, and securing an environment in which people can live in harmony with wildlife, is critical for the long term survival of tigers and the security and economic well-being of the communities living alongside them.

Malayan Tigers and Human/Wildlife Conflict
Three tiger sub-species are already extinct. Malayan tigers, with an estimated wild population of only 500 animals on Peninsular Malaysia, are listed as critically endangered.

In many parts of Asia tigers are suffering from the significant loss of their habitat and from a decline in their prey species – the food they eat. As a result, more and more tigers are forced to search for food among the domestic livestock that many local communities depend on heavily for their livelihood. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage have been caused by tiger attacks on livestock, with the poorest livestock owners often bearing the brunt of the cost. This naturally raises the ire of the farmers and reduces their sympathy towards tiger conservation. When tigers attack livestock they are often captured, killed in retaliation or actively persecuted in an effort to prevent similar events happening in the future. Sometimes the carcasses of livestock killed by tigers are baited in order to poison the tiger when it returns to its kill, also killing any other animal that chooses to opportunistically feed on the carcass. Tiger prey species, like deer, are also killed by villagers in retaliation, further exacerbating the problem by reducing the availability of the tiger’s natural source of food.
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Animal Planet
© Animal Planet

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WWF in Jeli

WWF’s human tiger conflict mitigation work in Malaysia didn’t start in Jeli. In the late 1990’s rapidly escalating conflicts between humans and tigers in Jerangau Barat, East Peninsular Malaysia, prompted WWF to intervene to conserve the tigers and lessen conflict for villagers. The problems arose when tigers attacked cattle that were not managed well, causing the cattle owners to retaliate by poisoning or shooting the tigers.

With cooperation from the local authorities and villagers, WWF advocated proper livestock management to reduce incidences of tiger predation. This involved developing better management practices for the cattle owners, including placing livestock corals away from areas most often frequented by tigers, and building tiger-proof paddocks at suitable sites. WWF started working in Jerangau Barat in 1999 and the human/tiger conflict has decreased dramatically. From November 2002 to December 2003, only one attack was reported compared to about 50 attacks per year previously.

WWF’s work in Jerangau Barat was a pilot study which proved very successful. Looking at where else such a scheme could be implemented WWF focussed on Jeli. These projects are usually established in important tiger habitats, such as around a protected area or in a “forest corridor” linking pockets of forest where tigers live. Jeli qualified as one such place.

In Jeli WWF is working to change livestock management practices to prevent tiger kills, and to provide livelihood alternatives to local communities to reduce their dependence on forest resources. This reduces the likelihood of tiger attacks on humans.

How You Can Help Save Tigers

• Support WWF’s work on the ground http://www.panda.org/join
• Join Panda Passport, WWF’s online lobbying site http://www.passport.panda.org
• Don’t purchase products that contain anything made from tiger parts (such as bone, claws or skin)
• Buy only FSC certified timber (Forest Stewardship Council) timber to help conserve the forests where tigers live
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.