Many of these species are, however, threatened (for example, 14% of Malaysia’s mammals are listed by The World Conservation Union (IUCN) as endangered).
Though WWF-Malaysia does not work exclusively on species-focused projects, these do represent a major component of our work. With such projects taking place throughout Malaysia (from the Northern forests of Peninsular Malaysia to the coastal waters of the South China Sea and over to the valleys of Sabah) we work towards the protection and management of six different species; the tiger, Borneon Pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros and orang-utan in the forests and both the hawksbill and the green turtles in the seas and on the beaches.
Within the WWF network, all of these species are considered to be “flagships” – that is, as ambassadors for conservation in Malaysia. The common factor that connects them all is that by conserving them, we are also conserving rich habitats and addressing major threats that impact on a variety of associated species. For example, a key requirement for tigers is that its forest home contains enough deer and wild pig as food; conservation of the tiger, then, means protecting deer populations which, in turn, help shape the forests by browsing on vegetation.
Generally speaking, the main threats that these animals face stem from either the loss of their habitat or the removal of individuals from the wild. Poaching, for instance, is an important issue for many of our flagship species: Malaysia’s population of Sumatran rhino, for example, has been almost completely wiped out mainly because of the monetary value of its horn. In fact, illegal trade in wildlife is on the rise in this region of the world. Malaysia, in particular, is a source for much of the international demand, as well as a conduit or trade hub. WWF-Malaysia works together with TRAFFIC-SEA and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to try and combat a secret army of poachers working in Malaysia.