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Monday, April 8, 2019

More rain forest, more roar!

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

The critically endangered Malayan tiger just got another helping hand from a coalition of wildlife conservation organizations, shining a brighter light of hope for the magnificent big cat.

Malaysia’s new Kenyir State Park has just been designated an additional 48,466 acres. Combined with another logging concession protected in May 2018, the new park now spans 74,140 rain forest acres—nearly three times the park’s original size and three times the size of San Francisco.

A Critically Endangered Malayan Tiger takes a swim. Photo by Hans Stieglit

Kenyir State Park is the first-ever state park for the state of Terengganu and the first state park to be gazetted in Peninsular Malaysia since 2007.

The Malayan tiger is one of six subspecies of tigers and lives only on the Malay Peninsula and in the southern tip of Thailand. The population for Malayan tigers is dangerously low—fewer than 250 survive in their natural range. They face tremendous pressure from poaching for the illegal wildlife trade and other threats including habitat loss, logging and other human developments.

In an effort to save these iconic big cats from extinction, in 2013 Woodland Park Zoo created a partnership with Panthera and Rimba, an in-country field partner of the zoo, to launch the Malayan Tiger Conservation Project. This project is a 10-year initiative with the Terengganu State Government to protect tigers in and around Taman Negara National Park in peninsular Malaysia. 

Malayan tiger at Woodland Park Zoo.
“We are extraordinarily proud of the success of this conservation program,” says Peter Zahler, vice president of Conservation Initiatives for Woodland Park Zoo. “While big cats everywhere face daunting pressures, we are seeing tigers returning in and around Taman Negara, and we are seeing tiger habitat being preserved and protected. This is proof that conservation can make a difference and help protect and recover endangered species such as the tiger.”

In 2018, with critical support from Rainforest Trust, the program helped establish and then expand Malaysia’s new Kenyir State Park. The park is phase one of a much larger conservation project that will eventually encompass 250,000 acres that lie within a globally important Tiger Conservation Landscape and critical wildlife corridor.

Woodland Park Zoo's Banyan Wilds features Malayan tigers, sloth bears and Asian small-clawed otters.

“Rainforest Trust is thrilled that the Terengganu State Government is taking action to overturn a logging concession and strengthen protection of imperiled rainforests,” says Rainforest Trust CEO Paul Salaman. “The new park provides an unparalleled opportunity to safeguard habitat for one of the planet’s most awe-inspiring predators—the Malayan tiger—as well as protect a vital watershed for people of Malaysia.”

The program and new park also protect the critically endangered Sunda pangolin and endangered Asian elephant, two other species highly threatened due to poaching and habitat loss.

Visit www.zoo.org/tigers to help support the Woodland Park Zoo-Panthera Malayan Tiger Conservation Project.

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