The Vanishing Malayan Tiger

By , in Nation on .

The natural world is magnolious with beauteous animals that vouchsafe the wonderment of evolution. Amidst the most beautiful and magical animals that co-exist with humans is the stunningly beautiful majestic creature, the Panthera tigris jacksoni, or widely known as the Malayan Tiger.

The Malayan tiger is a majestically handsome non-human sentient being that roams the champaigns of Malaysia. But unfortunately, this elegant fauna was cataloged as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2015.

The Malayan tiger, Malaysia’s very own proud and resplendent wildlife, was documented as the ninth subspecies of Panthera Tigris in 2004 and can only be located in the southern and central belts of the Malay Peninsula. The Malayan tiger was only identified as being a separate subspecies from the Indochinese tiger in 2004. It is very similar to the Indochinese tiger but is smaller in size.


Initially, nature gifted us with nine subspecies of tigers; unfortunately, three subspecies have gone extinct. The Panthera tigris virgata (Caspian Tiger), the Panthera tigris sondaica (Java Tiger), and the Panthera tigris balica (Bali Tiger) have been wiped off the face of the earth. With that in mind, our Malayan tiger is also plagued with grave extinction; with a population diminution from an approximated 3,000 in the 1950s to less than 300 at present.

On the way out?

Malaysia is on the edge of losing its Malayan tigers, and the world is one step nearer to losing another tiger subspecies: the Malayan tiger. Camera trap surveys from 2010 to 2013 have estimated that only 250 to 340 Malayan tigers remain, potentially a halving of the previous estimate of 500 individuals.

This gallant carnivorous warm-blooded vertebrate animal, the Malayan tiger, as well as predatory, is incessantly hunted down for its exquisite skin, bones, and opulent striped fur. The diminishing of the imperious Malayan tigers is dire straits. Thanks to an idée fixe with superstition and apathy, these extremely beautiful and sentient non-human animals are being hunted to annihilation.

Today, there are thought to be around 1,500 to 2,000 tigers left trekking through in the wild, and around half of those tigers are found in India, which is a harsh warning from 100,000 just a centenary ago. Sharing the same fate as the other wild tiger populations globally, the Malayan tigers are dealing with monstrous perils from illegal hunting and poaching.

For example, between 2000 and 2015, the Malaysian enforcement agencies seized an equivalent of 103 individual Malayan tigers. Meanwhile, in 2016, PERHILITAN seized two slain Malayan tigers and rescued a third from a snare. The ugliest story of Malayan tiger poaching would be the one that occurred in February 2010, just afore the dawn of the lunar Year of the Tiger, where the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks discovered a deceased tiger with its left front paw severed and still wedged in the wire snare some radius away from its remains in the Bukit Tapah Forest Reserve, Perak. This poor but once an olympian sentient being had been ensnared for days, shot twofold in the eye, aggressed with poisonous darts and lethal spears and left to expire in a slow and agonizing demise.

Call for action

The Malayan tiger is also threatened by the loss and fragmentation of forests.

The Malayan tiger is the insignia of Malaysia’s national pride and it stands statuesquely tall on our national Coat of Arms or Jata Negara. The Malayan tiger has been a national icon for decades. For example, the Malayan tiger has also been the proud symbol for the national football team, as well as companies such as Proton and Maybank. But the real Malayan tiger in the Malaysian jungle has not been so lucky.

Numerous studies and documentaries by the Malaysian Nature Society, the NGO TRAFFIC, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia, Wildlife Society of Selangor, and WWF-Malaysia have exposed the ugly reality that Malaysia is plagued with the fast diminishing of its wild Malayan tiger population. We have to admit, whether we like it or not, that our national icon of strength, magnificence, and gallantry is on the brink of extinction.

The perils intimidating and curtailing the subsistence of wild tigers are intensifying, globally. It is pandemic that the tiger population has lost 95% of its habitation and it is beleaguered by poachers. A world shorn of wild tigers may turn into a reality in our era excepting that radical and far-reaching course of actions and maneuvers are conducted. The time to conserve and keep them safe is now or never.

The Panthera tigris jacksoni are our vanishing ‘Malaysians’, and they are expeditiously becoming inexistent. The Malayan tigers are just as Malaysian as we are, thus it is incumbent for us to protect and keep these endangered ‘Malaysians’ safe.

Save our Malayan tigers before they are silenced forever.


Dr Suzianah Nhazzla Ismail has a PhD in Politics from the University of Sheffield in the area of Animal Politics and Environmental Ethics. She is currently the one and only expert in that field in Southeast Asia.

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