© WWF-Malaysia / Mark Rayan

The Malayan Tiger

Background

'The largest cat of all, the tiger (Panthera tigris) is a powerful symbol among the different cultures that share its home. Over the past 100 years, global tiger numbers have dropped by 97% and three sub-species; the Bali (P. t. balica), Caspian (P. t. virgata), and Javan (P. t. sondaica) tigers have become extinct — with a fourth not seen in the wild for over 25 years. With as few as 3,200 wild tigers left globally, bold and immediate action is needed.

TX2

In 2010, at the Tiger Summit in St Petersburg, Malaysia and the 12 other tiger range countries committed to the most ambitious and visionary species conservation goal ever set: TX2 – to double wild tiger numbers by 2022, the next year of the tiger.

WWF-Malaysia has a long history of tiger conservation and is proud to be an essential part of TX2 through its Malayan Tiger Conservation Project.

There are six remaining living sub-species of tiger:
 
Amur tiger (P. t. altaica)
Bengal tiger (P. t. tigris)
Indo-Chinese tiger (P. t. corbetti)
Malayan tiger (P. t. jacksoni)
South China tiger (P. t. amoyensis)
Sumatran tiger (P. t. sumatrae)

Physical and species description

The tigers’ stripes are like finger prints; no two tigers have the same stripe pattern. With round pupils and yellow irises, the night vision of tigers is six times better than that of humans. Coupled with their short heavily muscled forelegs and long, sharp, retractable claws, this makes them the ultimate predator. The mark of the Chinese character Wang (meaning king) sits on their forehead. Predominately solitary except for maternal bonding and during mating, tigers occupy territories that they defend against same-sex intruders. These carnivorous mammals instinctively avoid human beings and will only attack people if they are provoked, injured or unable to hunt for their usual food.

Interesting Facts

There are probably more tigers on the shelves of pharmacies and medicine stores than in forests, as tigers are widely hunted and every single part of their bodies is dissected for use in traditional Asian medicine. Tiger bones, believed to contain high medicinal properties, are popular on the black market in Asia. However, there is no scientific basis to prove this claim.
 

"Tx2"

 
	© WWF-Malaysia
 

The Malayan Tiger

The Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) is a subspecies unique to the Malay Peninsula. Back in the 1950’s, Malaysia was estimated to have as many as 3,000 tigers. However, the subsequent loss of habitat due to rapid development and agriculture expansion, as well as widespread hunting, has subsequently reduced the local tiger population to an official estimate of 250 - 340 individuals. Currently, about 90% of Malaysia’s tiger habitats are contained within four states which still have a substantial amount of forest cover: Pahang, Perak, Kelantan and Terengganu. The National Tiger Action Plan for Malaysia has also identified three priority areas for tigers in Peninsular Malaysia, namely the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, Taman Negara and the Endau-Rompin Forest Complex.

The Malayan tiger is listed as Endangered under the IUCN Red List and is Totally Protected under Malaysia’s Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, in which offenders can be fined up to RM500,000 and incur a mandatory jail sentence. It is also listed on Appendix I of CITES (species threatened with extinction), in which trade is prohibited except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. zoos are allowed to undergo the trading process under certain conditions).
 
 
	© Gifbutton
Please help us save the Malayan Tiger
© Gifbutton

Threats

Tigers are threatened throughout their range due to several reasons. Historically they have been hunted for sport, killed when they come into conflict with humans, and poached for their body parts. In more recent times, the use of tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicine has become one of the main drivers which have led to the endangerment of wild tigers, via widespread poaching. The rising affluence of Asian countries, especially China, has also made tiger derivatives affordable to a wider market, thus increasing the demand of this commodity. Habitat loss and fragmentation are compounding threats faced by tigers, causing many populations to become depleted or isolated. These smaller populations are more prone to local extinction due to poaching pressures as well as inbreeding, which affect their genetic viability. Overhunting of the tigers’ main prey species also affects the number of tigers which forests can support. In addition, tigers are sometimes killed or removed from the wild when they come into conflict with humans.