Groups call for national task force to save tigers

PETALING JAYA - WWF-Malaysia and Traffic Southeast Asia have urged for a national tiger task force to be set up to save Malaysia's remaining wild tigers.

They called upon the Government to act fast as it was believed that there were now fewer than 500 tigers left in the country.

"This includes the ones living in the three tiger priority landscapes - Belum Temengor, Taman Negara and Endau-Rompin forest complexes," they said in a joint statement yesterday.

They made this call in a memorandum, which also cited poaching as the most immediate threat to the tigers' survival, delivered to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's office yesterday.

Almost 1,000 snares have been detected in the tiger priority landscapes between 2010 and 2011, they said.

"Poor sentences meted out to tiger poachers and low prosecution rates for wildlife criminals were also highlighted as stumbling blocks in the fight to save the Malayan tigers," they said.

The memorandum also cited local and foreign poaching syndicates as other factors contributing to the decline of tiger and other wildlife populations.

"Most of these poachers are armed and they, especially the foreigners, enter the forests without any fear of getting caught," they said.

The memorandum outlined specific mandates for the task force, including identifying resource needs in terms of personnel, equipment, facilities, training and incentives to combat poaching.