Feb 21, 2024

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Wild Tiger Reappears In Shadow, Rare Scene Captured In Malaysia, How Rare Is This Tiger?

Wild Tiger Reappears In Shadow, Rare Scene Captured In Malaysia, How Rare Is This Tiger?

Recently, wwf malaysia released an announcement that a group of wild malayan tigers were captured by infrared cameras in perak, malaysia. The photos were taken at the beginning of this year and the reason why they were chosen to be released recently was to meet world tiger day on 29 july. The photos show a female malayan tiger with four tiger cubs out foraging for food.

The release of this photo has sparked much concern and debate among netizens. After all, wild malayan tigers themselves are very rare, with only about 150 in malaysia, the main distribution country, and at one point malaysian researchers thought that the wild tiger population in the region was extinct before this set of pictures was taken.

So the question is, what kind of tiger is the malayan tiger? And why is it so rare? Let's find out.

The malayan tiger

Tigers are predators at the top of the food chain. They originated from the north-east asian tigers and migrated to different regions to form as many as nine different subspecies, but unfortunately the balinese, javan and caspian tigers have all become extinct, so there are six subspecies of tigers in existence, as shown below.

Of the six existing tiger subspecies, the south china tiger, which was unique to china, has been extinct in the wild since 1994, which means that only five tiger subspecies are actually active in the wild today, and the malayan tiger is one of them.

The malayan tiger is a 'new' subspecies of tiger, having been named only 18 years ago, meaning that until 2004 there was no malayan tiger, not because it had not evolved, but because it had been placed by zoologists in another subspecies of tiger, the indochinese tiger.

The indo-chinese tiger

Until 2004, the malayan tiger was thought to be the indochinese tiger, and you can't blame zoologists for this, because it looks so much like the indochinese tiger, especially in terms of hair colour and stripes. The average adult male indo-chinese tiger weighs around 170 kg, while the average adult malayan tiger weighs around 130 kg.

However, the fact that they are so close in appearance, coupled with the fact that the same species inherently varies in size within different habitats, for example, the largest cat in the americas, the jaguar, averages 90 kg for males in the brazilian rainforest, but only about 50 kg for males in the mexican region.

There are also large differences between male and female individuals of the same species, so the malayan tiger has existed as a subgroup of indochinese tigers living in malaysia since it was discovered. It was only in 2004 that researchers at the national cancer institute's genetic diversity laboratory discovered their genetic differences from the indochinese tiger, and thus a whole new subspecies of tiger was created - the malayan tiger.

When the new tiger subspecies was identified, malaysia was overjoyed and rushed to think of a name for it, but while malaysia was happy, researchers had already named it "Panthera tigris jacksoni" After zoologist peter jackson, meaning "Jackson's tiger".

At the time, the malaysian government was baffled that the tiger could not be called "Panthera tigris malayensis", as it was mainly found in malaysia and the samples for genetic testing were provided by them. However, the scientific name of the malayan tiger is still panthera tigris jacksoni, probably to accommodate the malaysian sentiment, so the common name is malayan tiger.

Why is the malayan tiger so rare?

The malayan tiger is only found in malaysia and thailand, with over 88% of its population located within malaysia's four continents (malaysia has 13 continental genera). According to statistics from the early 21st century, the malayan tiger's wild population was around 600-800 individuals, but by 2013, the population had dropped to between 250-340 individuals, and from starting as an endangered species it has become the most endangered subspecies of tiger today (less than even the sumatran tiger), apart from the south china tiger.

So why is the malayan tiger so rare? Let's talk about it from three perspectives.

Firstly: The reason for their occurrence. One of the main reasons for the scarcity of the malayan tiger is that it is a new subspecies of tiger separated from the indo-chinese tiger, and the indo-chinese tiger has also "Fallen on hard times", as before the separation, the number of indo-chinese tigers was between 1800-2600, but after 600-800 tigers were separated at once, the indo-chinese tiger is now the wild population is now between 1,200 and 1,800, a step further down the road to endangerment.

Thus, the malayan tiger, a subspecies separated from the indo-chinese tiger, has been identified in relatively small numbers.

Second: Habitat destruction. The malayan tiger, like other tiger subspecies, is a mountain forest animal and inhabits forests mainly in the four states of malaysia. Although national parks were established in malaysia after the identification of the tiger subspecies, logging and road construction (to facilitate tourism) in the parks have been very heavy, which has greatly reduced the habitat of the malayan tiger.

Also, with human activities, the malayan tiger's main prey, such as water deer, bison and bornean bearded pigs, are either vulnerable or endangered species, so with less habitat and less prey, the malayan tiger's population is gradually declining.

Bearded pigs

Thirdly: Poaching. As long as tigers are concerned, there is always the problem of poaching, as the idea that tigers are a treasure has been ingrained since ancient times, and malaysia is no exception.

Secondly, in the three main reserves where malayan tigers are found, staff actually found close to 1,000 traps and caught 22 poachers of different nationalities between 2000 and 2011. It is these poachers who have gone on a poaching spree that has added to the current state of the malayan tiger.

The reason why the five tigers photographed in malaysia have generated so much buzz is that there are very few signs of malayan tiger activity outside the non-reserve, and the fact that four of the tigers photographed here are cubs is proof that their wild populations continue outside the non-reserve.

The malayan tiger is a subspecies of the indo-chinese tiger, which is already scarce, and the destruction of its habitat and poaching has made it the rarest of the tiger subspecies still living in the wild.

In the end, poaching and environmental destruction are the main causes of all tigers' endangerment, so to save them, it is not enough to protect the environment, but also to boycott wildlife products.