The unprecedented economic growth occurring across Southeast Asia is causing large tracts of rainforest to be logged, converted to plantations or fragmented by infrastructure development. It also opens up forest to poachers which, in combination, places acute pressure on the region’s large carnivores. Here, we focus on one of Malaysia’s three priority tiger landscapes that illustrate these regional conservation challenges. The Royal Belum State Park (RBSP) and Temengor Forest Reserve (TFR) are connected by a strip of unprotected forest with portions assigned for conversion to monoculture plantations. To support government in setting aside wildlife corridors, we assessed: the abundance of tiger and principle prey under two different forest management regimes in RBSP and TFR; and, tiger habitat use in the unprotected forest strip, from which a spatially-explicit habitat model was produced to identify priority points of forest connectivity. Camera trapping revealed a threefold higher tiger density in the protected area (RBSP) than the forest reserve subjected to selective logging (TFR), which was likely explained by the higher relative abundance of its principal prey, seemingly lower levels of poaching as indicated from an independent study and presence of armed forces that may have deterred poachers. Two forest corridors were identified as being important for maintaining landscape connectivity and these findings were used to successfully lobby state government in affording them protection. This research offers an urgently needed approach for better managing Malaysian tiger habitat within forest reserves, which are predominantly designated for logging and have weak or non-existent wildlife protection measures.
D. Mark Rayan, Matthew Linkie. Conserving tigers in Malaysia: A science-driven approach for eliciting conservation policy change. Biological Conservation 184 (2015) 18–26