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Poaching 'biggest threat' to tigers

16 May 2012, 14:56

 Kuala Lumpur - Poaching has hampered efforts by the Malaysian government and environmental organisations to save endangered Malaysian tigers, a report by an alliance of conservation groups said on Wednesday.

Illegal hunting and trade, driven by demand from within and outside Malaysia, were the most devastating threats to the tiger and other wildlife species, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers said.

"Tigers are much sought after for their bones, which are used in traditional medicine; meat, which is served as a delicacy in wild meat restaurants; and for other body parts, such as the teeth, claws and skin, which are believed to have curative or 'magical' powers," it said in a report.

The tiger population in Malaysia's jungles has declined to an estimated 500 from as many as 3 000 in the 1950s, the report said.

It added that the government's National Tiger Conservation Action Plan for Malaysia, which aims to increase the number of tigers to 1 000 by 2020, would likely fail unless the government intensifies its campaign to curb the illegal wildlife trade.

But the report praised the passage of the Wildlife conservation Act of 2010, which increases the severity of penalties for wildlife offences.

It said the law has resulted in 41 cases being filed before the Sessions Court, six of which resulted in jail terms for the offenders.

"Of these, one case involved illegal possession of a tiger claw, for which the offenders were sentenced to four months in jail," it said.

"A dozen other court cases involved tiger prey with offenders in two cases given jail terms."



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