In 2004, DNA testing uncovered a new subspecies of tiger−Panthera tigris jacksoni, or the Malayan tiger. Before 2004, the Malayan tiger was classified as the Indochinese tiger. The Malayan tiger has a very limited range. It is found only on the Malay Peninsula and along the southern tip of Thailand.

The Malayan tiger was officially listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2015. Several factors are considered when determining if an animal is qualified for this designation. For the Malayan tiger, three factors were significant: its overall population, the percentage of the decline in its population over a generation, and the fact that no pocket of habitat with a population of more than 50 tigers exists. 

Efforts to save the Malayan tiger require the cooperation not only of the Malaysian government and local conservation agencies but also conservation partners around the world.  One example of these efforts is that of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington. The zoo has partnered with the global conservation organization Panthera on a 10-year, million dollar plan to preserve the Malayan tiger. They are working with local conservation organizations in Malaysia as well as Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks to coordinate their conservation efforts for maximum effectiveness.

Conservation groups are approaching Malayan tiger conservation in multiple ways. The Woodland Park Zoo/Panthera partnership is supporting training for park rangers to improve data collection, anti-poaching activities, and interagency communication. They have also helped set up camera traps to increase the data on tiger populations. The World Wildlife Fund has assisted in education efforts in local communities and to help farmers build secure enclosures for livestock to reduce conflicts with tigers. At the same time, zoos in Europe, including the Prague Zoo, have managed to breed Malayan tigers in captivity. All of these various efforts will affect the future of the Malayan tiger.

  1. Why is it necessary for governments and local and international organizations to work together to help endangered species?

    • Answer

      Often local governments or even countries do not have sufficient resources or knowledge for adequate conservation efforts. Different international organizations have developed specialized knowledge that can be applied in many areas. At the same time, local organizations contribute an understanding of the local culture and issues unique to their location. The cooperation of government agencies is also key, as they can create and enforce laws that will aid conservation efforts.

  2. If scientists and conservationists did not realize the Malayan tiger was a separate species until 2004, is its conservation important? Why or why not?

    • Answer

      Answers will vary, but students should recognize the value of preserving biodiversity.

  3. Some of the Malayan tiger conservation efforts include improving information-gathering, educating the community, decreasing conflicts with farmers and ranchers, captive breeding, and training enforcement agents. What other strategies or approaches can help in protecting endangered species?

    • Answer

      Answers will vary, but could include efforts to preserve habitat, legal challenges to stop harmful actions, lobbying for better laws, reintroduction of species into the wild, and raising awareness and money.

Noun

management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

critically endangered
Noun

level of conservation between "endangered" and "extinct in the wild."

Noun

organism threatened with extinction.

park ranger
Noun

person who protects and informs the public about local, state, and national parks. Also called a forest ranger.

subspecies
Noun

(subsp.) group of organisms within a single species, often distinguished by geographic isolation.

World Wildlife Fund
Noun

organization focused on conservation of nature.

Noun

place where animals are kept for exhibition.