Malaysia, including Malaysia Borneo, is one of the most bio-diverse countries in Asia with over 2000 endemic (native) species. However, most of the Malaysian wildlife is under threat, but to…
Is extinction forever?
In conclusion, it seems clear that the main lessons to be learnt are all about culture change and innovation. To save its iconic species from extinction, Malaysia must have vision at national leadership level. Equally, the wildlife department must demonstrate leadership in wildlife rehabilitation. Moreover, local conservationists must be open to integrating activities in the wild and in captivity. Such transformations will involve failures and setbacks. By being transparent in this transformation process, public support and awareness will increase.
In terms of development ranking, this is not a ‘white saviour’ message. Far from it. Many countries that are now embracing rewilding are doing so because they mismanaged their natural resources decades or even centuries ago. The U.K. has one of the lowest levels of biodiversity in the world. But it has recently seen the return of the Eurasian Beaver. This animal used to be widespread but was hunted to extinction in the 16th century. The beaver’s re-introduction is partly due to its beneficial role by improving rivers and water catchment areas. But this advance also happenend because of an EU directive which prescribes that habitats must be restored by beaver introductions to their former range in 26 European countries.
Collaboration is vital
South East Asia should avoid the European mistake of allowing keystone species to go extinct for centuries. Similar platforms, such as ASEAN, exist to kickstart region wide initiatives and knowledge sharing. Again, this is crying out for leadership and collaboration. Above all, this cautionary tale shows that the transformation required is a long and arduous process. It takes decades to achieve results. But the alternative , the path to extinction, can take centuries to correct, if at all!
About 10 years ago, I researched and wrote about public-private partnerships to save the tiger. Single-mindedly, I plan to bear witness 10 years from now and beyond, with the sincere hope that the necessary leadership in wildlife rehabilitation to save the Malayan tiger will happen in my lifetime!
Claw Back from imminent extinction
Imagine a country of about 30 million inhabitants, surrounded by ocean and blessed with natural beauty. It is one of the most biodiverse countries on the continent. But many of its native species are threatened. It is home to a majestic feline predator. This wild cat has lost more than 80% of its range due to habitat loss and poaching. This cat species is close to extinction with less than 100 remaining in the wild. Urgent action is needed to halt this tragic loss.
Does this country sound like Malaysia? Actually, the above facts describe Spain in 2000 and the status of the Iberian Lynx. This European wild cat was close to extinction. So, a small group of determined conservationists lobbied the government, landowners and the public. They managed to start a project to save the cat from extinction. Through breeding and reintroductions over a period of 20 years, the population has recovered from 94 in 2002 to 855 in 2020.
The latest phase of the programme, the five-year Life Lynxconnect project, has a budget of €18.8m, 60% of which comes from the European Union.
The Malayan tiger is the national animal of Malaysia. The animal is featured on the country’s coat of arms, as a traditional Malay symbol representing courage and strength. The Coat of Arms is widely used by Government ministries and agencies. Also, it is part of the Royal Standard of the Malaysian king. The extinction of the Malayan tiger in the wild would be a national tragedy.