Photo Credit: Elizabeth John

Citizen Conservation: public engagement and empowerment to save Malaysia's threatened wildlife



Get a fascinating glimpse into the adventures of a volunteer, trekking the jungle of Taman Negara with CAT`s trailblazer programme to protect wild tigers in Malaysia.


Conservation Problem

Malaysia, home to the oldest rainforest in the world and one of the 12 mega-diversity countries, faces an empty-forest syndrome; its 130 million year old forests are being hollowed out by systematic poaching of valuable species.

The main reason for the current biodiversity extinction crisis is the ignorance and apathy of the public at large. It is too easy to blame the government for all the environmental and social ills while society at large remains extrinsic to the solution. The truth is that law enforcement alone cannot bring about the desired result unless society also "walks the talk" and reprimands its own misdemeanors and errant behavior. With 60% forest cover, Malaysia offers a unique opportunity to save many of the endangered species still found in the country.

With the Malayan Tiger as an umbrella species, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT)* strives to save large expanses of living forests rich in biodiversity. Some of the most endangered mammals that will benefit from this project are: tiger, clouded leopard, dhole, Asian elephant, sambar deer, gaur, and serow.

Project Activities

This SOS - Save Our Species project, implemented by MYCAT, will take place in Taman Negara National Park (4343 km2) - the largest and most important protected area in Malaysia, and Sungai Yu Tiger Corridor - the only connection between Taman Negara and the largest forest landscape (20,000 km2) in Peninsular Malaysia.

The Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT) programme deters poachers by organizing tourist and naturalist activities at poaching and encroachment hotspots around the national park. While carrying out recreational activities and border maintenance work, they also search and deactivate snares and document the presence of endangered species. CAT has two types, depending on the fitness level of the volunteers:

1. CAT WALK is a moderate recreational walk lasting for several hours. While trekking and bird watching on various routes at the state land forest adjacent to the national park, they become eyes and ears of the enforcement agencies. Information on possible illegal activities is instantly relayed to the authorities through the MYCAT managed Wildlife Crime Hotline. Information from CAT Walkers in 2011 led to the arrest of a local trader in possession of protected species and removal of 56 snares which saved many lives.

2. CAT TRAILBLAZER consists of intense bushwhacking along the Taman Negara border for five days with park rangers to maintain the border trails and signs. It is jointly conducted with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. 

Project Outcomes

The goal of this project is to reduce poaching, trade and consumption of threatened wildlife species by empowering and engaging the Malaysian public.

The specific objectives are to deter poaching and encroachment in and around the most important conservation area in Malaysia, elicit reliable information on crimes against wildlife to aid law enforcement, and cultivate wildlife stewardship. 

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