The Malaysian tiger will hardly be saved, but hope remains

The Malaysian tiger is threatened by poaching and deforestation, and is facing extinction. The IUCN Red List classifies it as a critically endangered subspecies

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The Malaysian tiger will hardly be saved, but hope remains

(Photo Credits: Pic by Simone Staffoli Photo) - The Malaysian tiger is threatened by poaching and deforestation, and is facing extinction. The IUCN Red List classifies it as a critically endangered subspecies. The Malaysian government is establishing numerous protected areas to safeguard the last 500 remaining specimens, but still over 90% of them live in unprotected areas of forest.

Its distribution is limited to nine areas of Peninsular Malaysia, although it has recently been reintroduced to a safari park in Singapore, where it has been missing since 1925. In November 2021, the Cabinet of Malaysia announced the initiation of nine conservation strategies, through 2030, to ensure the survival of the Malayan tiger.

The strategies include enforcement of patrols, preservation and conservation of the Malayan tiger's natural habitat. Establishment of a National Task Force for its conservation under the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia's Tiger Conservation Unit; the wildlife crime bureau under the Royal Malaysia Police and the National Wildlife Forensics Laboratory were emboldened for its ex situ conservation, and provisions for a Malayan tiger habitat accreditation schemes enabled.

The government also cooperates with zoos and universities in other countries to further research into inbreeding, and establishes a Malayan Tiger conservation center to temporarily accommodate tigers before releasing them into the wild.

The moratorium ban on deer hunting was extended further.

The Malaysian tiger will hardly be saved, but hope remains

The specimens of this subspecies were formerly classified in the subspecies Panthera tigris corbetti. Recent genetic studies have instead clarified that it is a separate subspecies.

The name was chosen in honor of zoologist Peter Jackson, former president of the IUCN's Cat Specialist Group, known for his work in defense of tigers. However, this choice has aroused the protests of the Malaysian government, which would have wanted a denomination reflecting the geographical origin of the subspecies such as Panthera tigris malayensis.

Some authors believe that the Malayan tiger is included in the subspecies Panthera tigris tigris, but this is still a matter of debate. Morphologically very similar to the Indochinese tiger, the Malayan tiger has an average weight of about 110 kg for males and 90 kg for females.

The length of the animal including the tail is from 2.20 to 2.40 meters in males, while in females it is from 2.10 to 2.20 meters. Its size makes this subspecies the smallest of all other tigers.