“As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together”
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Regrettably, the magnificent tiger has been exploited for body parts and skins for centuries, and the Malayan tiger is no exception. Much is done in many countries to try and save tigers from extinction. In Thailand, the home of the Malayan tiger, there are 20,000 forest rangers employed to protect all wildlife, but this is becoming an increasingly dangerous occupation. In September 2013, two rangers were fired upon by five poachers they had tracked to the Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Thailand. On their way, the poachers had poisoned various animals, which the rangers suspected had been left behind as tiger bait (although, it is known they were hunting for various species). Four of the rangers were shot in the incident, and two later died. To add to the tragedy of the deaths of the rangers, when shots were exchanged, shockingly, the hunters were seen to be armed with AK-47 and carbine automatic rifles. This does not imply poaching for subsistence food. Instead, it smites heavily of terrorist activity.
Sadly, these incidents have become commonplace across Asia. In the past four years, forty-two forest rangers have been killed on duty in Thailand alone. These poorly paid, hard-working, dedicated rangers could do with a lot more support from the rest of the world as well as their own people.
A large part of the market for body parts and skins is created by the demand of middle class Asian consumers, in particular the fast-growing middle classes of China (many of whom think elephants shed their tusks naturally), and it is not slowing down. The demand for young animals as pets and exhibits has also become huge. But, more often, it is terrorism which benefits most from these killings and live trade. The trade in illegal wildlife, dead or alive, is now worth an estimated nineteen billion dollars a year.
Under such adverse circumstances, it seems only matter of time before the beautiful Malayan tiger, like so many other species, is lost to this world forever.
Slightly smaller than their Indian counterparts, female Malayan tigers can reach an average of seven feet ten inches in length, and males as much as eight feet six inches. They can stand at anything between two and four feet high at the shoulder and weigh between one hundred and four pounds and two hundred and eighty-four pounds.
The tiger’s orange, black and white striped coat is designed as camouflage in the forest or long grass. It has huge front paws with five retractable claws on each. It has incredibly powerful jaws housing large canines with which it is able to grab its prey and suffocate it. In fact, in favourable circumstances it would have a more than fair chance of defending itself against its human predators.
Not always successful in every attack, one in twenty seems to be the kill rate, tigers can eat up to eighty pounds of meat in one feeding session. The rest they will cover and come back to later, having already marked their territory with deep claw marks on trees.
There is no specific breeding season for tigers. It is an all-year-round event which is followed by a gestation period of roughly fourteen weeks. Females birth in deep grass hollows or caves. Normally, a litter will consist of three cubs weighing about three pounds each. They will stay with their mother for the first eighteen months to two years of their lives, in which time they will be taught all they need to equip them for a life of independence.
Tropical forests, grasslands, and subtropical moist broadleaf forests.
The southern tip of Thailand and the Malaysian Peninsular.
What they eat
Deer, wild boar, sun bears and occasional livestock.
Habitat destruction due to logging operations and development of roads for the same, and conversion of forests to agriculture or commercial plantations. Poaching for skins and Traditional Chinese medicine, and human conflict. An ever-diminishing prey base.
The Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. jacksoni) is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered. It is also listed on CITES: Appendix I. Only five hundred or so Malayan tigers are still thought to exist in the wild. Many are kept in captivity around the world. In the wild, most live outside protected areas.
Various agencies are addressing the issue of the Malayan tiger. The World Wide Fund for Nature, for example, has initiated programs focusing on raising awareness, education and the reduction of human conflict.
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