Unknown risk of extinction
Once found throughout the forests of Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore, the Malayan tiger has fallen victim to the illegal wildlife trade and shrinking habitats due to agricultural expansion, leading to its dwindling population.
Today, there are less than 300 wild tigers left, a far cry from the 3,000 that were around in the 1950s.
Losing the tiger – an apex predator and keystone species - will not only mean the disappearance of this charismatic creature, but it will also disrupt the delicate balance of the Malayan forest ecosystem. The ripples of this domino effect will be felt by all.
These camera traps were set up in 2012 and have provided valuable data and information not just on tiger activity, but also on overall wildlife and human activity in the surveyed areas.
Evidence of poachers was also present – a shotgun cartridge, an abandoned makeshift campsite, animal traps and snares as well as tree markings made by humans were found. It was sobering to see this first-hand, which has strengthened their resolve to protect the tiger.
One of the highlights of the trip was the overnight back-to-nature stay in the forest. Sleeping under the stars, knowing that they were sharing the territory of tigers, elephants, bears and other amazing creatures was both exhilarating and humbling.
Our keepers also learnt more about the Batek way of life and their special relationship with the forest, when they visited their campsite and enjoyed dinner prepared in a traditional way. All three were struck by how much respect and love the Bateks have for the forest as well as their wealth of forest knowledge.
Kumar, Mohan and Kughan also had the opportunity to become reforestation eco-warriors and plant some trees! The forest at the Sungai Yu watershed was severely degraded and ‘Rewilding Yu’, a MYCAT reforestation project, was launched last year to address this.
The Realm of the Tiger adventure was filled with memorable experiences – bonds were strengthened, knowledge was shared, and sweat and blood were shed. Although Kumar, Mohan and Kughan did not encounter any tigers, they felt the force of the forest, and went home armed with a greater respect for the tiger.