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Malayan Tiger

IUCN Red List status - Critically Endangered



The Malayan tiger was idendified as an unique tiger subspecies only in 2004. Before then the Indo-Chinese tiger was seen as covering a home range including the Malaysian Peninsular
(including the south of Thailand and Malaysia). A study showed however that there are distinctive genetic differences between the tiger subspecies in Malaysia and southern parts of Thailand and the tiger subspecies in northern Indochina. Saying this a study by Mazak and Groves (2006) established that there are no clear morphological difference between these 2 subspecies (similar in appearance). By size the Malayan tiger is not much bigger than the Sumatran tiger.

The population of the Malayan tiger is estimated to be between 250-340 individuals and based on this low number, the drastic decline of the population over the recent years
(by more than 25%) and the continuing threats, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) classified this tiger subspecies as Critically Endangered.

This tiger subspecies occurs still in varies areas of Malaysia and the most southern parts of Thailand, but the majority of them live only in four states, Pahang, Perak, Terengganu and Kelantan. The habitat of Malayan tigers include peat swamps and mountain forests.

Only 15% of Malayan tigers live in protected areas
(National Parks), which in itself is a risk factor for the survival of this subspecies. The main threats to the Malayan tigers are:
  • Habitat loss,
  • Poaching,
  • Lack of prey
  • Human/wildlfe conflict

Although poaching of the tigers and their prey species has a significant impact on the Malayan tiger population, habitat loss is affecting this tiger subspecies at least equally and is leading to an increased human/wildlife conflict.

In 2005 there were about 22km2 of rubber plantations, which increased to 349km2 by 2012. In addition, Malaysia is the second largest producer of Palm Oil. The Malaysian government aims to expand commercial forest plantations to 3,750km2 by 2020. This was noted by the IUCN and taken into consideration when looking at the survival chances of the Malayan tiger.

As mentioned above, poaching of tigers and also their prey is a big problem and this is also reflected in the 'Critically Endangered' status. Not only is this evident through the high number of confiscated tiger bodies and body parts, but also through the high number of snares found by anti-poaching teams. Between 2010 and 2011 alone, more than 950 snares were found and 29 poachers were arrested according to the IUCN
(click on the highlighted term 'IUCN' for more information).

Based on the severe threats to the Malayan tigers this subspecies is part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP). The only zoo in the UK, which has a couple of Malayan tigers
(male and female) is Hamerton Zoo Park.


The information about Malayan tigers was sourced from the IUCN and 21st Century Tiger web pages