KUALA LUMPUR, February 18, 2010 - The continuous decline in wild tiger populations worldwide, which adversely impact both the biodiversity system and national heritage, have led to governments, corporations, NGOs and individuals heightening tiger conservation efforts globally.
In Malaysia, the country's leading financial services group, Maybank, which bears the face of the Malayan tiger as its iconic emblem, is taking action by entering into a two-year partnership with the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) in an effort to bring the plight of the Malayan tiger to the forefront.
The start of the Chinese Year of the Tiger was an apt occasion to set the partnership in motion with a launch ceremony with Maybank Chairman Tan Sri Dato' Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor, Dr. Kae Kawanishi, MYCAT Programme Manager and Maybank President and CEO, Dato' Sri Abdul Wahid Omar.
Maybank will be contributing RM1 million towards a dedicated outreach and research programme being spearheaded by MYCAT. Taking a major role in developing and executing tiger conservation efforts in the country since 2003, MYCAT comprises the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), WWF Malaysia, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia (TRAFFIC) and Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia Programme (WCS). The alliance is supported by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (DWNP).
Speaking at the event, Tan Sri Dato' Megat Zaharuddin said, "The Malayan tiger has played a clear and highly visible role in Maybank's evolution over the last 50 years. While Maybank has been involved in supporting tigers in Malaysia's zoos, the rapidly declining tiger populations worldwide and appalling rate of poaching of tigers in our country have led us to take firmer action this time around towards the conservation of wild tigers as part of our golden jubilee corporate responsibility activities. As a result, we decided to provide funds that will be used mainly by scientists to conduct research that aims to gather data that will help us conserve the fast-declining Malayan tiger from extinction."
"The Maybank & MYCAT alliance will also focus on raising public awareness among our rural and urban communities, and providing enforcement support to the authorities by assisting in collecting accurate, real-time information on wildlife crimes."
"As a corporation, we view this as an ideal opportunity to encourage our employees and the communities we operate in to learn more about the importance of biodiversity balance and the role conservation efforts can play in protecting our Malayan tiger, a national heritage. This partnership also serves to remind us that nature is not just a commodity to be extracted or taken for granted, and if we are to progress, it must be with sustainability in mind."
Also present at the event were MYCAT partners: WWF-Malaysia Executive Director/CEO Dato' Dr Dionysius Sharma, MNS Executive Director Dr Loh Chi Leong, TRAFFIC Senior Programme Officer Noorainie Awang Anak and WCS-Malaysia Country Director Dr Melvin Gumal.
MYCAT's Dr Kae, who led the first ecological study of tigers in Taman Negara from 1998 to 2001, is no stranger to tiger conservation efforts worldwide and is a keen advocate of the importance of science in conservation efforts.
"Conservation of endangered species like the tiger is both expensive and arduous. Our investment in efforts and funds need to be based on sound knowledge from scientific research and to be adapted accordingly to the dynamics of the tiger's response to threats and prescribed conservation actions," she said.
The project funded by Maybank is at the Sungai Yu Tiger Corridor, the last forest linkage between the Main Range and Taman Negara in Pahang along the Gua Musang-Kuala Lipis trunk road. Agricultural expansion along the road has created a forest bottleneck and there is only about a 10km stretch of forest left connecting these environmentally sensitive areas.
Dr Kae explained that the research will determine the response of wildlife to the past development and current landuse patterns and establish benchmark data for future management. It will also estimate the tiger density in western Taman Negara and compare it to that of ten years go. Maybank's support will allow the public and policy makers to be informed of practical solutions based on careful research.
Maybank employees will also have the opportunity to participate in the outreach programme as volunteers. Among the year-long activities planned with MYCAT are roadshows mainly at night markets and conservation education programmes in schools to create awareness among key communities in the country.
"Malaysia is one of the 13 countries that have joined forces to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 via an approach that values sustainable progress. As a leading corporate entity which has been a part of this country's landscape for decades, we are honoured to play a role in such conservation efforts that can contribute towards saving the Malayan tiger and creating a brighter future for the generations to come," added Tan Sri Dato' Megat Zaharuddin.