The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species on Earth and is endangered throughout its range. Having lost 95% of its original habitat in the past century, there are as few as 5,000 wild tigers left. The rough estimate of the number of tigers in Malaysia declined from 3,000 in the 1950s to 500 in the year 2000.
Challenges to tiger conservation are multi-faceted. Tigers are threatened by habitat loss, forest fragmentation, poaching, illegal trade of their parts and derivatives, depletion of prey species and human-tiger conflict.
Other indirect threats to the tiger include retaliatory killing or removal by the authorities as a result of human-tiger conflict, incidental killings due to snares set for other wildlife, and lack of public awareness and support. Finding solutions, therefore, requires an integrated conservation approach.
As the leading government agency in wildlife conservation in Malaysia, one of the critical roles of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) is to promote the integration of and collaboration with conservation partners in reaching the goal of conservation excellence.
In the overarching spirit of partnership, the DWNP initiated the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) in 2003. MYCAT is a formal yet flexible platform for information exchange, collaboration, and resource consolidation among the conservation partners.
This project aimed to support four areas identified by MYCAT as immediate priorities.
- Reduction in local consumption and trafficking of tigers and tiger prey through targeted campaigns. A series of targeted campaigns focused on reducing consumption of traditional tiger medicine and meat of both tigers and tiger prey as a delicacy. The campaigns also focused on reducing local trafficking and poaching of tigers and their prey nationwide.
- Drawing roadmaps to secure the future of the Malayan Tiger. By consolidating expertise, MYCAT collaboratively produced the Malayan Tiger Conservation Action Plan to provide direction and specific actions required to ensure the survival of the Malayan tiger.
- Building local support and cultivating conservation-minded Malaysians through awareness programmes in zoos. MYCAT are developing and implement tiger-themed events in zoos to raise awareness and support for tiger conservation.
- Maintain and expand conservation partnerships. MYCAT aim to maintain the platform for open communication among the current and future partners for better coordination and collaboration in tiger conservation to disseminate and consolidated information to the public to raise awareness and support.