KUALA LUMPUR (dpa) – Malayan tigers are now considered critically endangered species with their numbers in the wild declining despite efforts to protect them from poaching, officials and conservationists said Monday.
New studies show the number of Malayan tigers in the wild dropped to between 250 and 340, from the previous estimate of 500, Malaysia’s wildlife department and the non-profit Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers said in a joint statement.
“Despite all efforts, including the strengthening of legislation and increased patrolling, tiger conservation across the vast tropical forest landscape continue to face challenges,” it said.
“Poaching for illegal commercial trade is the greatest and most urgent threat to tigers in Malaysia, followed by loss and fragmentation of forests.”
Officials vowed to intensify efforts to preserve the Malayan tigers, such as establishing dedicated patrols to protect and monitor individual tigers that have been identified through surveys at the three priority areas.
Malaysia hopes to have at least 1,000 tigers thriving in the wild by 2020, according to its 2008 National Tiger Conservation Action Plan.
“With the new estimate in 2014, that target may now be unachievable in this timeframe,” the statement said.