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Poaching and wildlife trade

While habitat protection is essential for the long-term survival of the tiger, illegal trade is a more urgent threat, having the greatest potential to do maximum harm in a short time. Tiger populations have been decimated in many parts of their former range due to illegal hunting for their skins, bones and other body parts.

        © Department of Wildlife and National Parks

Throughout Southeast Asia, one of the main threats comes from the trade in tiger parts for use in traditional medicines. Many different cultures use tiger parts for their purported medicinal qualities, including the bones, blood, sexual organs and other parts. Bones are the most valuable part of the tiger, more so than the skin. In a number of countries, skins, skulls, claws and canine teeth are traded as trophies and talismans, and meat consumed in restaurants serving exotic dishes.

           © TRAFFIC Southeast Asia

The frequency of apprehension of tiger poachers or finding poached tigers has been on average less than one case per year, excluding the cases pertaining to the illegal possession of tiger body parts for which the origin is unknown. The actual number is suspected to be higher, but the detection of “red-handed” cases is difficult and more realistic figures are not available. Despite the lack of actual figures of tigers poached, it is obvious that tiger poaching continues and is likely to be having an adverse impact on Malaysia’s tiger populations. Tigers are also killed in retaliation to livestock depredation, and it is suspected that some of these conflict tigers also enter the illegal trade.

           © TRAFFIC Southeast Asia

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