HIJAU is GREEN … news & views

Hoping for good news

Posted in TIGERS by Faezah Ismail on February 13, 2010

A Malayan tiger cub at Danga Petting Zoo, Danga Bay, Johor Baru

Does the Year of the Tiger spell hope for the endangered predator?

Many would like to think so.

guardian.co.uk carried an article last Sunday (February 7, 2010) about a “new drive by the Chinese government, the World Bank and conservation groups to halt the perilous decline of Asia’s most powerful wildlife symbol”.

It is significant that it has chosen the Year of the Tiger, which begins tomorrow, to launch the project.

The fate of the tiger does not look at all promising as Chinese around the world greet the Lunar New Year with fireworks and partying tonight.

A new WWF report — entitled Tigers on the Brink: Facing up to the Challenge in the Greater Mekong — has unveiled alarming news: the global wild tiger population is at an all time low of 3,200 — down from an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 during the last Year of the Tiger, in 1998.

The report notes that tiger populations in the Greater Mekong — an area that includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam — have plummeted from an estimated 1,200 from the last Year of the Tiger to about 350 today.

China has also been badly affected.

Jonathan Watts of guardian.co.uk reports that the South China tiger, which has not been seen for many years, is feared to have followed the Bali, Caspian and Java sub-species into extinction in the wild. In the country’s north, the population of the Amur tiger — which can grow to three metres in length and 300 kilograms — is estimated at 18 to 22.

Malaysia reports the same sad tale. There are only about 500 tigers (Panthera tigris malayensis) left in Malaysia, a sharp decline from an estimated 3,000 in the 1950s.

The decline is due to habitat loss, rapid economic growth and poaching for tiger body parts for Chinese traditional medicine.

Ministers and senior officials from 13 Asian tiger range states — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam — recently vowed to cooperate in tiger conservation.

They made the pledge at the first Asian Conference on Tiger Conservation which was held in Hua Hin, Thailand from Jan 27-30, 2010.

Hopefully, they will keep their promise to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the start of the next tiger year.

Photo courtesy of New Straits Times

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