Malaysia proposes adoption of 13-point KL joint statement for tiger population recovery in South-East Asia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is proposing the adoption of a Kuala Lumpur Joint Statement on Tiger Conservation to help the tiger population recover in habitats within South-East Asia, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said the 13-point joint statement would support the implementation of actions within the South-East Asia Tiger Recovery Action Plan (STRAP) based on agreed priorities.

“The adoption of the Kuala Lumpur Joint Statement, STRAP and Resource Mobilisation Strategy will provide Tiger Range Countries a means to set realistic actionable targets in their bid to achieve tiger recovery goals,” he said at the Fourth Asia Ministerial Conference (AMC4) on Tiger Conservation held virtually on Friday (Jan 21).

Ismail Sabri also called on Tiger Range Countries and partners to work together in the spirit of a “world family” to save the species as the loss of tigers knows no geographical, cultural and political boundaries.

Meanwhile, a Financial Resource Mobilisation Assessment would be further discussed by member countries as it would include financing plans which South-East Asian countries may use when implementing tiger conservation efforts, he said.

Ismail Sabri said as tiger conservation was costly to execute, it was crucial for resource mobilisation and sustainable financial mechanisms to be put in place to ensure effective implementation.

He said the federal government had introduced the Ecological Fiscal Transfer for Biodiversity Conservation (EFT) to incentivise state governments to protect and expand tiger habitats, with a total of RM130mil having been disbursed to state governments through EFT since 2019.

“On the international front, Malaysia takes its commitment to tiger conservation and biodiversity conservation seriously.

“We are proud to be a party to an extensive list of biodiversity-related multi-lateral conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES),” he said.

Malaysia is also collaborating with various international agencies including the Asean Working Group on CITES and Wildlife Enforcement (AWG CITES & WE) and the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) to combat illegal wildlife trade.

The Prime Minister said the population of tigers had plunged to fewer than 4,000 worldwide and this figure includes the critically endangered Malayan tiger, a symbol of Malaysia’s strength and resilience which adorns its national Coat of Arms, or Jata Negara.

Based on the First National Tiger Survey conducted from 2016 to 2020, he said, fewer than 150 Malayan tigers were left in the wild, while experts predict that the species will vanish within five to 10 years if strategic actions were not put in place immediately.

“Therefore, the Malayan tiger has been afforded the highest level of protection in our legislation – Totally Protected Species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and Appendix 1 under the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008,” he said.

Other successful tiger conservation initiatives include the award-winning Operasi Bersepadu Khazanah (OBK), as well as the Biodiversity Protection and Patrolling Programme (BP3), in which 167 wildlife criminals were arrested for smuggling goods worth RM36mil under those two programmes.

Besides that, Ismail Sabri said the Greening Malaysia Agenda through the 100 Million Trees Planting Campaign from 2021 to 2025 was successful, as approximately 26.21 million trees from 993 species have been planted under this programme as of January 2022. – Bernama