Need to do more to curb human-tiger conflict

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KUCHING: WWF-Malaysia wants steps to be taken to prevent further casualty following the recent fatal tiger mauling of a villager and its subsequent killing in Kelantan.

In a statement, it extended its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased,  Anek Along, a 59-year-old Orang Asli villager at Kampung Sau, Gua Musang.

“We are also devastated that the tiger had to be shot, despite it being a critically endangered species which we, as a nation, are committed to protect at all cost.

“We share our concern for the safety of the villagers, and urge that best practices and necessary steps be taken to avoid further casualty, be it man or beast.  

“Unfortunately, incidents of human-tiger conflict (HTC) are not uncommon in tiger range countries.

“HTC occurs when a wild tiger interacts with humans, their animals or their livestock and this results in an injury or death to a human, livestock or tiger,” it said.

Elaborating further, it said that in Russia, two wild tigers responsible for killing three dogs on the outskirts of the Vyazemskoye town, were sedated and relocated to the Utyos Rehabilitation Centre with the support of WWF-Russia and ANO Amur Tiger.  

In Bhutan, human-wildlife conflict is a critical issue where farming communities reside close to protected areas or in reserved forests.

Apart from measures such as the use of sound and light repellent and electric fencing, “Safe Systems” is being adopted, to address this issue holistically with strategies that ensure the safety of both humans and wildlife.

“In Peninsular Malaysia, our forests are home to less than 200 tigers, yet in recent months, a few from these already dwindling population have ventured out of the forest, closer to human settlements.

“With increased incidents, there is a real urgency to find a holistic way to address and manage HTC. To do this, we must understand the nature of the tiger, the possible causes leading to HTC and expedite necessary solutions.

“Individual tigers require a large territory and the size of its territory is determined mostly by the availability of prey.

“Across their range, tigers face unrelenting pressures from poaching, retaliatory killings and habitat loss. They are forced to compete for space with dense and often growing human populations,” it explained.

The solution is to minimise contact between wild tigers and humans, however, as competition for space and habitat increases, this becomes a challenge.

“When we stop threatening the resources required for a self-sustaining ecosystem, the coexistence between human and wildlife can be better managed.

“Therefore, as we work towards increasing our wild tiger numbers, we also need to look at effectively managing HTC, for the safety of the communities that live close to the forest as well as the conservation of the Malayan tiger.

“Year 2021 had closed on a hopeful note with the announcement of the set up of a Wildlife Crime Unit by the police,” it said.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan had also announced the establishment of a National Tiger Task Force and a Tigers Working Group (TWG) to look at ways to increase tiger population in the wild.

“The Malayan tiger is already standing precariously close to the brink of extinction. We may be losing tigers faster than they can breed.

“With fewer tigers, the chances of breeding will be further reduced and with so few remaining in the wild, the urgency to conserve each and every tiger is so critical,” it added.

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