Ecotourists May Help Save Malayan Tiger

Posted Oct. 30th, 2014 by Melynda Harrison

Like these tourists in India, hikers and photographers may deter poachers in Malaysia.

Like these tourists in India, hikers and photographers may deter poachers in Malaysia.

Ecotourists may help save the Malayan tiger according to local conservationists. That’s good news for both those that love to travel and photograph wildlife, and tigers.

Malayan tigers have been on the Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. They’re listed as “endangered” and the population is decreasing.

Latest findings by MYCAT and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) Peninsular Malaysia have suggested that 250 to 340 wild Malayan tigers are left — smaller than the previous estimate of 500.

What’s happening to these felines? According to the Red List, the tigers’ habitat is being fragmented by development projects and agriculture. Add to that, poaching and illegal trade, and tigers are under serious threat.

But, there may be good news on the horizon. The Malayan government is calling on tourists to help bring tigers numbers back up.

Tigers are listed as "endangered" on the Red List of Threatened Species.

Tigers are listed as “endangered” on the Red List of Threatened Species.

A program called MYCAT (Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers), says that more visitors engaging in low-impact hikes and photography expeditions will deter poachers with their presence.

MYCAT encourages volunteers to lend their eyes and ears at poaching hotspots, while enjoying a day hiking and photographing in the jungle under the Citizen Action for Tigers program.

Getting more people actively involved in watching for poachers could be key to protecting tigers. “For example, my research found that western Taman Negara lost 85 per cent of [the tiger] population in 11 years because of a lack of active protection,” Dr. Kae Kawanishi, biologist and the general manager of MYCAT, told Today.

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