Known as: Malayan Tiger
Estimated numbers left in wild: 500.
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Description of Malayan Tiger
Until fairly recently (2004) the Malayan tiger was simply considered to be an Indochinese tiger. However, the smaller size and unique mitochondrial DNA of the Malayan tiger have now designated it as a separate subspecies.
Male Malayan tigers average approximately 2 meters to 2.5 meters in length, with the females smaller. Weights of Malayan tigers vary between 78 kilograms and 150 kilograms, depending, again, on the sex of the individual.
Orange background with black striping, along with white on the face and undersides, give the Malayan tiger the usual coloration found in these big cats.
While many tiger species enjoy living in densely forested areas, the Malayan tiger is usually content in more open woodland. Prey animals are generally more abundant in open forest. However, because of human incursions into areas where tigers are found, the cats are often found in agricultural areas.
The Malayan tiger preferentially feeds on deer, wild boar, gaur, tapir, sun bear, and elephant calves, but will take domestic animals when wild prey is scarce.
The only social group known to Malayan tigers, as with other tigers, is the bond between the female and her young.
Pairs are formed only for the purpose of mating, and the tigers go their separate ways once the female has been impregnated.
The female will have between 1 and 5 cubs, which remain with her for approximately a year and a half before striking out on their own.
Female cubs stay with their mothers for longer periods of time than do males. Mortality among male cubs and young adults is also much higher than that of females.
Not surprisingly, the Malayan tiger is found sporadically throughout most of Malaysia, and there are also some of these tigers in Thailand. They enjoy the rainforest as the main type of habitat and terrain.
Conservation of Malayan Tiger
Humans and human activities are what constitute the only threats to the Malaysian tiger. Exploding human populations have caused most of the rainforest to be converted to agricultural use, and heavy logging has also caused severe habitat destruction.
When deprived of wild game, tigers will attack domestic stock, leading to farmers hunting them in turn. Fragmentation of tiger habitats also results in difficulties with breeding, and lack of genetic diversity.
Along with the degradation of the physical environment, poachers continuously hunt these tigers for their pelts and body parts.
Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicines rely heavily on tigers, and it is now thought that organized crime is behind local poaching, making the problem even more difficult to eliminate.
Villagers also eat tiger meat, perhaps in the mistaken notion that they will absorb some of the tiger’s power by eating the animal’s flesh.
Several NGOs, such as World Wildlife Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society, are working both with local governments and populations to protect the existing Malayan tigers. Anti-poaching programs have been instituted, including regular patrols of tiger habitat and removal of snares.
The Endau Rompin National Park does offer tigers some sanctuary, and ‘land swaps’ have been made with those who were planning to develop palm plantations in the rainforest for open areas where tigers are absent.
NGOs also try to educate villagers as to the importance of tigers to environmental balance and teach them how to better protect their livestock from attacks by the cats.
Panthera is an American based organization. Their main focus is to conserve the world’s largest wild cats including the Malayan Tiger by supporting research and education programs in different countries.