Just over 200 tigers remain in the wild. Their imposing presence in temples in Bhutan, their face in symbols and coats of arms of countries like Malaysia, with the meaning of bravery and strength for the Malays, they are the inspiration of millions around the world. Day by day they fight to survive with the help of organizations and people, and you can be one of them. This is their story.
8 subspecies of this feline once lived on the planet, 3 have already been exterminated by humans and unfortunately the Malayan tiger, one of the smallest in the world, may be on the same path as its extinct cousins. They lead a solitary life, they live between 15 to 20 years and now, their survival status is in critical danger for reasons linked to money, illegal hunting, deforestation and human interests. It is unfortunate to think that 70 years ago there were 3,000, now humanity reduced them to +200.
They die because there is a high demand for their skin and body parts on black markets. The last stronghold for these tigers is on the Malaysian Peninsula and southern Thailand, places that do not demonstrate real protection towards them or the hundreds of other species that may disappear. What we don’t know is that exterminating this big cat, its prey and its environment has a terribly negative impact on human life. To eliminate them is to eliminate sources of water, air, trees, dams, cultures, languages. Read here 4 reasons why the survival of the tiger is so important and you will understand that saving tigers is saving your life and that of hundreds of other animals.
The Belum – Temengor Forest Complex, one of Malaysia’s last tiger refuges, is much more than just trees. This place, along with the Taman Negara National Park, is believed to have existed for more than 130 million years, making them two of the oldest forests in the world, outnumbering those of the Amazon and Congo. They are in Malaysia and Thailand, far from America but with a key role in our lives; just as the Amazon is for the planet.
Within this complex, tigers struggle to survive in situations that become dramatic, with stories you may have never heard before. One of them starts with an imposing tiger, walking slowly within his territory, always alert and looking for a place to rest, he has no rush, he is the true King of the Jungle and top predator, supposedly. Night falls quickly and the feline disappears in his forests, prowling around and looking for prey, or perhaps a place to sleep. The morning brings a new day but without a tiger in sight, he does not appear, but well, it’s normal not to find a Malayan tiger so easily.
The next sunrise brings hope of finding him, but until sunset there are no signs of him. No better luck the next day, there are no traces of the majestic animal. 24 hours go by, and in the afternoon, the feline finally shows himself, he is alive, he is lying down, but his position is not normal, he moves a lot and is complaining, it seems that something is wrong. The screams and grunts make everything worse, they are heartbreaking and louder every time, they are not sounds of power, they are cries of help and pain. He tries to move with great force, but he does not succeed, something is stopping him. His paw is caught in a snare, in a wire trap set by poachers, and there is quite a bit of blood gushing out. He tries to lick the wound and let go, but doing so only makes things worse since with each struggle the wire does more damage to his leg.
The park rangers are ready to help him, they fire a tranquilizer dart and wait for it to take effect. After a while the tiger calms down, they assist him and check the wound, the cut is deep, it doesn’t look good and the cat has lost a considerable amount of blood. It appears that he has been trapped in the snare for 2 long days, growling, asking for help without understanding why he cannot continue walking through his home. Park rangers release him from the wire and transport him to a vet to better care for him and save him. Unfortunately they found him too late, the tiger dies a few days later. All that remains of him is a video of the rescue, where you can see the moment he cries and tears fall from his eyes when he is rescued. This happens in min 3:33, but we recommend you see everything.
If you didn’t watch it, the documentary is about the poaching crisis in the Banjaran Titiwangsa mountain range, Malaysia. It was produced by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and TRAFFIC (the global wildlife trade monitoring network). The video aims to take action in the protection of the species and places of the mountain range as well as in the Belum-Temengor Forest complex, one of the last refuges for species such as the Malayan tiger, the Asian elephant and the pangolin.
WHY ARE THEY IN DANGER OF EXTINCTION?
Threats to this cat are shared with thousands of other species and we explain them in a general way in this article. But in the specific case of the Malayan tiger, the most significant are:
The Malayan tigers, and all other tigers, are killed for their skins, for being a status symbol in society, for decoration (rugs), and for hunters to display as trophies on their walls. Also, in several Asian countries like China, traditional medicine suggests that parts of the tiger’s body (such as its bones) can heal some disease. Their practices have managed to turn the feline into a highly valued “product” on the black market in that country. Besides, there is a trend in the production of tiger wine.
Deforestation is a direct impact of livestock and its own food source (soy, grass). This is how it works: thousands of trees are cut down to create spaces for cattle to graze. Additionally, thousands more trees are cut down for crops and production of other food for cows, chickens and pigs. This means that greater consumption of meat generates a demand to deforest even bigger areas for more livestock. On top of all this, habitat destruction causes reductions in the population of prey of the Malayan Tiger, which additionally, gives life to a confrontation between humans and tigers, where the felines are poisoned and killed when they hunt cattle.
The tiger’s diet consists of: sambar deer, wild boars, bears and sometimes small elephants; prey that do not show an increase in their population due to deforestation and illegal hunting that many times are executed by unemployed people with families to feed. The lack of food for tigers prevents them from increasing their population significantly which can mean the salvation for its species.
Maybe you don’t hunt, you don’t live in Malaysia or Thailand, you don’t cut down trees and you’re not a farmer, but still your habits may be jeopardizing the life of the Malayan Tiger. If we manage to make some changes in our habits, the result would have a positive environmental impact on the world’s species and also on you, on your own survival.
HOW CAN YOU HELP THE MALAYAN TIGER
You can help this cat, and many other species, in several ways. Many activities in your life can finally change the critical state of the Malayan tiger, but maybe you don’t know them yet. Look here for a complete list of what else we can do for endangered animals. In this case, you can help them:
The purchase and demand of products made with Amur leopard skins and fur generates poaching and brings them closer to extinction. If you buy any type of clothing made with skins then you are encouraging hunting and sentencing many species to their death and disappearance from Earth. If you have any such garment in your closet, then you are complicit in having taken a life. The reduction of its demand requires actions of people and brands.
Eating meat directly influences the decrease of the tiger’s prey’s population because their habitat is destroyed to give way to agriculture, livestock and meat production that ultimately attracts tigers to hunt cattle, which exposes them to being shot by farmers. Eating less meat means having more trees, more habitat for more prey resulting in more Malaysian tigers. It means they could no longer be surrounded by farms that now provide easy access for villagers to enter the area and hunt prey and tigers.
It doesn’t matter that Malayan tigers don’t live in your country, eating meat is a habit that you take to any city or country you travel. In addition, eating less meat is healthy, it is a matter of discovering new options that may surprise you with its flavor. Here are some recipes that you can prepare at home.
There are several organizations that are dedicated, not only in protecting the Malayan tiger but also, in educating the people of the region so they understand the importance and role of tigers in an environmental system and how the destruction of their habitat threatens their survival and how it also affects our own lives.
The contribution you make, whether small or large, is of immense help for these cats and all the species that need protection.
You can see it this way, once or twice a month, you can choose not to buy a cup of coffee, or not go out to eat at a restaurant or buy drinks, instead, you can use that money to donate and symbolically adopt a Malayan tiger, you will receive a WWF certificate. In addition, you can buy a shirt with the photo of a tiger or other species to support causes. Many organizations allocate 100% of that money to conservation projects.
Remember, there are only +200 Malayan tigers left, let’s help them reach 500.
But, these actions you can take now are: reduce plastic use, avoid products that cause deforestation, eat less meat, eat less fish & seafood, bike to work, car pooling, take public transport, do not buy any type of skins or products made from exotic animals, avoid circuses (places like Sea World), do not pay or take photos with animals, get involved in what’s happening, make donations and report illegal markets.
WWF – WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
The world’s leading conservation organization, protecting Nature for 50 years. On their website you can symbolically adopt an Malayan tiger, you will receive a certificate of your contribution and a stuffed animal. Think about adopting one with your friend or your family.
SAVE TIGERS NOW
A global campaign by WWF and Leonardo Di Caprio. The goal is to build financial and public political support to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. Donations start at $ 10.
We hope we have managed to inform you and convince you to get involved and contribute to the cause. We ask that you please share this blog and the video with friends and family. Remember that there is a list of 20 species in critical danger of extinction followed by dozens more that could soon join and increase that list. #LifeIsDying #DontLetIt