Tiger in viral video found dead in Johor plantation

PHOTO: Screengrab/Facebook/Persatuan Haiwan Malaysia - Malaysia Animal Association

JOHOR BARU - A tiger that was spotted roaming around a plantation in a viral video has since been found dead, says Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan). In a three-minute video on Facebook, the tiger was seen roaming around what looked to be a plantation in Mersing.

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Posted by Persatuan Haiwan Malaysia - Malaysia Animal Association on Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Last Sunday, Perhilitan confirmed receiving reports of tiger sightings in the area, which included photos of paw prints as well as videos of the tiger lying along the roads of the plantation.

Johor Perhilitan director Salman Saaban said a team was dispatched to track the tiger and relocate it.

"We started the search for the tiger in the plantation area on Monday, " he said.

"Traps were placed and we followed its tracks as we were afraid it would be hunted by poachers."

However, on Wednesday, they were alerted by the owner of the plantation to the presence of a tiger carcass.

Salman said that the tiger was assumed to have died of canine distemper as it showed typical symptoms of the infection, such as appearing tame to humans and not in fear of anything.

However, Perhilitan will be conducting further investigations and will not rule out the possibility that the tiger was killed due to criminal activities.

Malaysian Nature Society vice-president Vincent Chow explained that canine distemper caused the animal to fall sick with diarrhoea, vomiting and fever.

"The virus also attacks the nervous system, causing the animal to wander around aimlessly and lose the ability to hunt and feed itself, " he said, adding that the tiger most probably got infected from its prey.

When asked about the viral video, Chow said it was unwise for the public to spread footage of endangered animals as it would attract poachers.

He said a fully grown Malayan tiger could fetch RM500,000 (S$165,000) in the black market from the sale of its body parts, which are valued for its supposed medicinal properties.