WPZ – PANTHERA MALAYAN TIGER PROJECT
A Project of Woodland Park Zoo's Partners for Wildlife
About the Project
In 2012, Woodland Park Zoo and Panthera (a leading wild cat conservation organization) established a ten-year, $1 million partnership to enhance tiger conservation in Peninsular Malaysia, as part of Panthera's Tigers Forever Program. In concert with the National Tiger Action Plan of Malaysia, the program aims to strengthen tiger survival by identifying core populations and mitigating threats from poaching and habitat fragmentation. The project team will work cooperatively with Malaysia's Department of Wildlife and National Parks and local conservation non-profits and scientists.
Time is of the essence: the Malaysian government estimates that there are fewer than 500 wild Malayan tigers surviving today. In 2013, Conservation Associates Joe Smith and Fred Koontz will work with government officials and other Malaysian tiger conservationists to conduct tiger surveys and increase protection from poaching in and around Taman Negara National Park, a one-million-acre wildlife reserve that is located in the heart of the peninsula. Taman Negara is the premier protected area in Malaysia, providing a home for tigers and countless other tropical animals and plants, including endangered Malayan tapirs and Asian elephants. Despite Taman Negara being listed as one of the world’s top priority sites for tigers, and one of three Malayan tiger source populations, tiger numbers are unknown and additional anti-poaching and law enforcement measures are urgently needed.
Training Park Rangers
As a first activity, WPZ and Panthera have provided support to the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) to train park rangers and managers to improve law enforcement monitoring efforts in Taman Negara and to assess the impact of current ranger patrol strategies. MYCAT will be assisted in this work by staff from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Specifically, the MYCAT project will: 1) train 50 park rangers and managers on data collection methods; 2) increase anti-poaching patrols; 3) relay recommendations to senior government officials.
Just over 100 years ago there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers living in Asia. Today there are fewer than 3,200. In the last 80 years, three subspecies, Javan, Caspian and Bali, have gone extinct, and the South China tiger has not been seen in nature for 25 years and is considered extinct in the wild. Tigers range over 13 Asian countries, but only 7% of their original habitat remains. Conservationists are focused on identifying and protecting core tiger populations, safeguarding tiger prey, and securing sufficient protected areas and connecting corridors for long-term tiger survival.
In the Field
Tigers are difficult to study in the dense tropical forests of Malaysia. Panthera has developed a high-tech camera that is mounted along jungle trails and designed to automatically take a photo when a warm-blooded animal passes. Individual tigers can be identified and counted by their unique stripe pattern. Panthera has donated more than 4,000 of these cameras to tiger projects throughout Asia. The WPZ-Panthera Project will determine the number of tigers in priority conservation areas in the Greater Taman Negara region.
At the Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo is in the process of building a new exhibit for Malayan tigers in the second and final phase of the Banyan Wilds exhibit complex. The WPZ-Panthera Malayan Tiger Project will be highlighted in the exhibit’s conservation action center where visitors can talk with volunteers or scientists and learn how they can take conservation actions that will assist in the effort to save tigers before it’s too late.
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