First National CA|TS Mini Lab Focuses on Strengthening Tiger Conservation and Protected Area Management
In his officiating address, the Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources YB Dr Xavier Jayakumar said that the journey towards successful CA|TS implementation is in line with the new Federal Government’s pledge to bring about a balanced economic growth. This includes the promise of an environmentally-friendly government through the implementation of policies and regulations, all benchmarked against International Best Practices such as CA|TS.
YB Dr Xavier also mentioned that it is a good omen that both the acronym for the Ministry (KATS) and CA|TS are the same and that we (Malaysia) cannot afford to allow tigers to go extinct in the country as the Malayan Tiger is the symbol of the country’s coat of arms (Jata Negara). “There are several hundred Malayan tigers left in the wild and the Federal government is deeply committed to ensuring that our national symbol thrives for future generations,” he said.
The Federal Government has taken great efforts to strengthen the wildlife legislation with the enforcement of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, under which high penalties are imposed for crimes against tigers. However, it is also important to ensure that there is sufficient manpower to enforce these laws consistently. For instance, a minimum standard of 3-5 rangers per 100km2 has been applied in other countries for protection.
YB Dr Xavier Jayakumar also shared the possibility of PERHILITAN implementing CA|TS in other priority tiger habitats. “Royal Belum State Park in Perak made history last year by becoming the first in Malaysia and Southeast Asia to register for CA|TS. Since then, the park is currently being assessed in its journey towards accreditation. PERHILITAN is looking into having other tiger priority habitats, including Taman Negara, to embark on CA|TS accreditation in the near future,” he added.
When a site within the tiger range countries registers for CA|TS, it sends a strong message to the world that they are committed to protect their tigers and their habitats. The standards and criteria within CA|TS will help those managing tiger priority sites to understand what to aim for, and which areas need improvement or more attention. This is why CA|TS is a crucial tool to improve the effectiveness of managing areas that contain tigers.
Although forest managers are at the forefront of managing these tiger habitats, the involvement of enforcement officials are crucial to curb the poaching of our biodiversity heritage, which includes the Malayan tiger. Among delegates of the Mini Lab were high-ranking army officials from Nepal as well as government leaders from Bhutan, countries that have successfully achieved zero poaching in the past through effective stakeholder collaboration. Both countries participated in the Mini Lab to share their best practices and insights on the collaborative role of enforcement bodies, particularly the army, in addressing poaching.
The Director General of PERHILITAN, Dato’ Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim emphasised that illegal snares are one of the main factors that contributed to the death of wildlife including tigers in Malaysia. “This year, PERHILITAN launched an anti-snare campaign, targeted at destroying as many snares as possible in hotspot areas, raising awareness and garnering support from the NGOs as well as the public in being our allies to protect our forests. The year-long campaign has been working towards strengthening the level of protection of wildlife in protected areas and national parks in Peninsular Malaysia via a multi-agency enforcement taskforce consisting of local NGOs, namely TRAFFIC (The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network), WWF-Malaysia, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Malaysia Program, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), MYCAT, Rimba, Pelindung, as well as enforcement agencies,” said Dato’ Abdul Kadir.
While the global tiger population has slightly increased to 3,890, the Malayan tiger population estimate has sadly declined to as low as 250 from an estimated 500 back in year 2003. In June 2015, it was moved from the ‘Endangered’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ category in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This alarming decline is clear evidence for the need to do more when it comes to conserving our tigers.
“We are running out of time to save our tigers; and need to act fast. This Mini Lab is very timely in further examining our existing protected area management practices, assessing their effectiveness and finding ways to strengthen them – particularly in addressing the poaching crisis,” said Dr Mark Rayan Darmaraj, Tiger Landscape Lead, WWF-Malaysia.
The most critical and urgent threat to tiger conservation is poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. Wildlife trafficking is the fourth most globally-traded illicit commodity after drugs, weapons and human trafficking. Between 2000 and 2015 alone, it is estimated that parts from 103 tigers were seized in Malaysia. Today, rampant wildlife snaring is a critical threat to biodiversity in Southeast Asia.
If these threats to tiger conservation are not mitigated soon, it is highly possible that our tigers will go extinct in Malaysia over the next few years.
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About CA|TS and the CA|TS Partnership
Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS) is an accreditation system designed to measure and improve the management of tiger conservation areas. It is driven by the CA|TS Partnership, which comprises tiger range governments, intergovernmental agencies, conservation organisations and other institutions, including: Equilibrium Research, Freeland Foundation, Global Wildlife Conservation, Global Tiger Forum, IUCN, Panthera, Smithsonian Institution, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), WildTeam and WWF.
In Malaysia, the CA|TS initiative is a collaboration among Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources (KATS) Malaysia, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN), Perak State Parks Corporation, and WWF-Malaysia.
For more information on CA|TS please visit: www.conservationassured.org
For more information, please contact:
Soon Lii Chyi
Public Relations Officer, Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN)
Tel: +603-9086 6809
Katrina de Rozario
Communications Assistant, Peninsular Malaysia Terrestrial Conservation Programme (WWF-Malaysia)
Tel: +603-7450 3773