On­go­ing mas­sacre

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ENVIRONMENT - By Tan Cheng Li

POACH­ERS have slaugh­tered as many as 55 tigers in Malaysia over the past decade, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by wildlife trade mon­i­tor­ing group, TRAF­FIC. With wild Malayan tigers be­lieved to num­ber fewer than 500, the news has raised fears that the big cat is inch­ing closer to­wards ex­tinc­tion in Malaysia.

By analysing body parts – such as bones, skulls, claws, penises and car­casses – seized by Malaysian en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties in 18 cases be­tween 2001 and 2010, wildlife re­searchers es­ti­mated that be­tween 55 and 63 tigers have been il­le­gally trapped for trade.

Among the seizures were: five penises (five tigers) in 2001; 33.7kg of bones, six claws and 10 ca­nine teeth (four to six tigers) in 2003; 19 car­casses (19 tigers) in 2008; five skins (five tigers) in 2009; 71 bone pieces, one skull, six claws and seven ca­nine teeth (two to five tigers) in 2009; and four car­casses (four tigers) in 2009.

The find­ings, re­vealed in the re­port Re­duced To Skin And Bones, also pin­pointed the Malaysia-Thai­land border as a hotspot in the il­licit trade of tiger body parts, along­side those of In­dia-Myan­mar, Myan­mar-China and Rus­sia-China.

The lethal com­bi­na­tion of hunt­ing, de­clin­ing habi­tat and loss of prey such as deer and wild boars has caused wild tiger num­bers world­wide to plunge from around 100,000 a cen­tury ago to as few as 3,200 to­day.

The re­port showed that tigers are be­ing killed across its range. From an anal­y­sis of tiger body parts ob­tained from 481 seizures, it is pro­jected that be­tween 1,069 and 1,220 tigers have been slain over the past decade in 11 tiger range coun­tries. In­dia has the most num­ber of tigers killed (469 to 533 an­i­mals), fol­lowed by China (116 to 124) and Nepal (113 to 130).

Though In­dia re­mains a ma­jor player in the sup­ply of tiger parts, the re­port noted an in­creas­ing num­ber of seizures in In­done­sia, Nepal, Thai­land and Viet­nam. It also warned that the fig­ures were only a frac­tion of the to­tal trade.

“With parts of po­ten­tially more than 100 wild tigers ac­tu­ally seized each year, one can only spec­u­late the num­ber of an­i­mals be­ing plun­dered,” said Pauline Ver­heij, an author of the re­port.

“Clearly en­force­ment ef­forts to date are ei­ther in­ef­fec­tive or an in­suf­fi­cient de­ter­rent,” said Mike Baltzer, leader of WWF’s Tigers Alive ini­tia­tive.

He urged for swift pros­e­cu­tion and ad­e­quate sen­tenc­ing to re­flect the se­ri­ous­ness of crimes against tigers.

TRAF­FIC ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Steven Broad said aside from en­force­ment, ac­tion was needed to re­duce the de­mand for tiger parts in key coun­tries in Asia.

Tiger parts are used in many cul­tures as good luck charms, dec­o­ra­tion or in tra­di­tional medicines, with the an­i­mals sym­bol­is­ing strength, courage and luck. –

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.