Malaysian Wildlife

  • The Malayan tiger population estimate has declined to as low as 250 and was moved from the Endangered to Critically Endangered species in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

  • The Bornean Orangutan listed as critically endangered by IUCN as it decreased by more than 60 per cent between 1950 and 2010, and a further 22 per cent decline is projected to occur between 2010 and 2025

  • The Sumatran Rhinoceros declared it extinct in the wild for Malaysia in 2015

  • the Malaysian Leatherback turtle population has plummeted from over 10,000 nestings in the 1950s to near zero in recent years

WWF highlights Malaysian wildlife decline

The World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) has addressed the Malaysian wildlife scene in light of the Living Planet Report (LPR) 2016. According to the LPR, global wildlife could plunge to a 67 per cent level of decline in just the 50-year period ending this decade as a result of human activities. “While the global tiger population has slightly increased to 3,900, the Malayan tiger population estimate has declined to as low as 250. On June 23, 2015, it was moved from the Endangered to Critically Endangered species in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,” said WWF-Malaysia executive director and CEO Datuk Dr Dionysius SK Sharma. IUCN stands for International Union for Conservation of Nature. “Our national icon, the Malayan tiger, has been pushed to the brink of extinction by poaching, habitat loss, forest degradation and fragmentation. We need to combine our efforts at full force to double the number of tigers in the wild. By conserving tigers in their natural habitat, we are actually saving the entire ecosystem where the tigers live which is crucial for our own survival.” He said the Bornean Orangutan was listed as critically endangered by IUCN four months ago. According to the IUCN Red List, Bornean Orangutans decreased by more than 60 per cent between 1950 and 2010, and a further 22 per cent decline is projected to occur between 2010 and 2025. Given that a Bornean Orangutan’s generation length is 25 years, this decline will occur in a period of three generations. “We really need to take urgent action to save the species,” said Sharma.

Poaching, habitat loss, forest degradation and fragmentation are the mean threats to the Malaysian wildlife

“WWF-Malaysia worked closely with the Sabah Forestry Department to restore degraded orangutan habitats such as the totally protected Bukit Piton Forest Reserve, which was gazetted in 2012 based on WWF-Malaysia’s orangutan research and advocacy,” he said. For the Sumatran Rhinoceros, the Sabah government declared it extinct in the wild (for Sabah) last year. Currently, there are three captive rhinos at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary (two females and one male). WWF-Malaysia also worked with the Department of Fisheries to protect two of four species of marine turtles in the country.
“Positive developments have been observed at several nesting beaches across Malaysia. In Terengganu, more Green turtle eggs are secured for incubation with intensified patrolling during the annual nesting season, with more than 40 per cent increase in nestings recorded in the last 25 years. In Semporna, Sabah, 78 Green turtle nests and 26 Hawksbill turtle nests are recorded and secured for incubation in 2016,” said Sharma. The overall nesting population of Hawksbill turtles recorded from 2006 to 2015 in Melaka appeared to be stabilised with approximately 400 nestings yearly. However, based on data recorded for Pulau Upeh, the turtle island of Melaka, the population has declined by 70 per cent in the last 10 years. Loss of habitat due to rapid coastal development continues to threaten the future of this species. Melaka is home to the second largest population of the species in Malaysia. Sharma commended the dedicated rangers from the local communities for patrolling nesting beaches. However, the Malaysian Leatherback population, one of the most iconic turtles in the world, has plummeted from over 10,000 nestings in the 1950s to near zero in recent years.

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The Olive Ridley turtle population in Malaysia has similarly recorded a drop of 99.9 per cent. WWF-Malaysia continues to advocate for a nationwide turtle egg trade and consumption ban, habitat protection and intensification of enforcement to prevent poaching of turtles in their marine habitat. Malaysia is ranked as the world’s ninth largest producer of shark products and third largest importer in volume terms, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, State of the Global Market for Shark Products report, 2015. Saving sharks is crucial as 84 per cent of these imported shark fins are consumed domestically. In January 2016, WWF-Malaysia embarked on the year-long ‘My Fin My Life Campaign’ to raise awareness for shark conservation.
The organisation worked with the Penang state government, Sabah state government, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah, the Department of Fisheries, and Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based industry.

This article was earlier published in
The Borneo Post Online

Malaysia key conduit in global illegal ivory trade

Wildlife meat trade still rampant in Malaysian state of Sabah

Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Augustine Tuuga refuted claims by a netizen group calling itself “Sabah Wildlife Watchers” that bushmeat trade was still rampant in the district of Nabawan. “These accusations are completely baseless as my wildlife officers and rangers based in Kota Kinabalu and Keningau have been monitoring the tamu in Nabawan for the past few months without any incidents that contravened the wildlife law. All traders selling the wild meat have all the necessary permits. We make sure they also hang these permits in their stalls so our rangers can make sure that no bushmeat is sold illegally,” said Augustine. “During the latest inspection on last Saturday’s tamu in Nabawan, we did not encounter any traders selling wildlife meat which was not indicated in their permits. We have even erected a signage reminding them of the wildlife laws,” he added. “As for the Sabah Wildlife Watchers, I would strongly suggest that if they have any proof that bushmeat or protected wildife are being traded in this tamu , do come forward and report to us (SWD) directly and we will take appropriate action. Going to the press will not bring these alleged perpetrators to justice,” said the director.

WWF: Malaysia should do more to protect it’s wildlife

WWF-Malaysia has expressed its sadness regarding the recent news of a Malayan tiger which was killed after being hit by a vehicle traveling along the East Coast Expressway in Terengganu. Further inspection of the tiger’s carcass revealed that it was also pregnant with two cubs, causing many concerned members of the public to question the events surrounding the incident. Including these young casualties, this has brought the number of dead tigers to five within the past three weeks alone.

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Undoubtedly many more cases of tiger poaching remains undetected. With only 250-340 tigers left in the wild, every demise of an individual tiger is a huge blow to the tiger population in Malaysia. WWF-Malaysia is calling for all relevant state governments to adhere to the Central Forest Spine Masterplan for Ecological Linkages. This includes implementing conservation measures along critical corridors such as providing legal protection for natural forests, and the construction of green infrastructure such as viaducts and elevated highways. Other measures such as warning signages and speed breakers at strategic locations will also help reduce the number of collisions between vehicles and wildlife.

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