A Talk on the Wild Side.
Photo by Harshwardhan Dhanwatey
Less than 60 years ago, more than 3,000 tigers roamed the Malayan peninsula of southeast Asia. Today, due to poaching, habitat loss and decline of prey, less than 300 Malayan tigers remain. The western border of Taman Negara National Park and the Sungai Yu (Yu River) wildlife corridor in Malaysia is considered a protected area and provides the last forest linkage between the two largest tiger landscapes. However, protected areas are not always as safe as their name implies and poaching in this area persists.
The Sungai Yu corridor is a priority area for Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) but due to insufficient man power, rangers do not patrol the area regularly enough to protect wildlife from poachers. Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT) recognized that the DWNP lacked sufficient resources and, with support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, is helping to protect and improve this critical habitat by tapping into the passion and enthusiasm of volunteers.
With the DWNP as the official partner, CAT Walks are anti-poaching, anti-deforestation walks guided by volunteers. The presence of the volunteers hiking or camping in the rainforest deters poaching, while they also disarm snares, support law enforcement by becoming additional “eyes and ears”, report suspicious activities to MYCAT’s (Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers) Wildlife Crime Hotline and document the presence of endangered wildlife by their signs and camera trap images.
Taking a CAT Walk. Photo by Citizen Action for Tigers
CAT is getting people in to nature while protecting biodiversity and enhancing the local ecotourism business. Since 2010, 1,437 volunteers from 33 countries have participated in CAT Walks, protecting more than 1,000 square miles of forest and removing 156 snares. After just five years of the program, small mammals vulnerable to poaching started to return to the rainforest. More recently, volunteers have documented decreasing signs of threats to wildlife and increasing signs of wildlife recovery.
These eco-volunteers are becoming ever more crucial in the fight to protect tigers and their habitats. By the sheer presence of CAT’s workforce and volunteers, poaching rates in the area have declined considerably. One of the most frequently walked routes among CAT participants was once a poaching hot spot, and now poaching has completely stopped in this area.
Are you interested in helping tigers on this Global Tiger Day? Even if you aren’t quite ready to be a CAT walker, there’s a very simple way for you to support tiger conservation across the globe – use the “Tiger Stamp” anytime you send mail! Proceeds from the sale of these stamps, which sell for slightly more than dthe cost of first class postage, go to support conservation of tigers, as well as elephants, marine turtles, rhinos, and great apes. Learn more at www.tigerstamp.com.