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Malaysian conservationist wins international wildlife award

Petaling Jaya - Shah Redza Hussein, Director of Perak State Parks Corporation, has made Malaysia proud by emerging as the winner of the global Dr Rimington Award 2020 for his outstanding contribution to the conservation of tigers.

WWF-Malaysia nominated Shah Redza for this prestigious award, which was also supported by other NGOs such as Rimau and the Malaysian Nature Society. The Dr Rimington Award has been presented annually since 2018, and recognises highly exemplary contributions in the conservation of wild tigers and encourages continued interest among future generations.

Three years ago Shah Redza’s conservation focus turned to tigers after being appointed as the Director of Perak State Parks Corporation. Since then, Shah has been working to stop the decline of tigers in Royal Belum State Park, an incredibly diverse primary forest in Malaysia which is also a protected area of global significance for tiger conservation. Among his main initiatives taken to protect tigers were to increase the number of enforcement staff to patrol the park, and establishing Menraq, an indigenous community-based wildlife patrol unit.

Stuart Chapman, Leader of WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative, said: "Mr Redza is to be applauded for his leadership and contribution towards the recovery and conservation of wild tigers in Royal Belum State Park, as well as his efforts in reviving the trans-boundary initiative between Malaysia and Thailand. It is the actions of outstanding conservationists like Mr Redza that give hope for tigers in Malaysia.”

Sophia Lim, Executive Director and CEO of WWF-Malaysia, said: “Since he came onboard, we have seen enormous strides made in improving the management of Royal Belum State Park. This park is the only area in South East Asia which has registered for Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS), a set of expert-derived best practice standards for the effective management of tiger conservation areas. We have seen the conservation gaps being narrowed since he joined, and are confident that Royal Belum State Park would be able to achieve this international standard under his leadership.”

In addition to the main prize, two young Malaysians also won in different categories of the award. Anis Khalif won in the children’s category whereas hip hop star Armani Kowachee won runner up in the youth category.

Anis helped raise more than USD5,000 (MYR22,696) through the Simply Giving fundraising platform, which was used to purchase camera traps for monitoring tigers in Royal Belum State Park. This fundraising initiative was part of a tiger conservation and research project in partnership with WWF-Malaysia for a special school challenge.

Runner up in the youth category, Malaysia’s hip hop star Armani Kowachee supported WWF-Malaysia pro bono by posting her tiger conservation content on social media for Earth Hour and Global Tiger Day 2020, and encouraging her fans to support Malayan tiger conservation efforts.

These winners have put Malaysia on the global centrestage, and their achievements will hopefully galvanize support for tiger conservation efforts to be ramped up on a nationwide scale. With less than 200 Malayan tigers remaining, it really is now or never.

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