KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 ― After more than a decade of effort, director Harun Rahman and producer Lara Ariffin will finally be releasing Malaysia's Last Tiger, a National Geographic documentary.
According to the local filmmakers, the documentary was meant to emphasise the necessity of conserving Malaysian tigers owing to their decreasing numbers in the early 2000s.
They also urged fellow citizens to be the key players in rescuing the endangered species.
In the effort, the Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks conducted a definitive survey where thousands of camera traps were placed to find out how many tigers still survive in the wild.
Speaking to Malay Mail, Lara said that it was essential to conserve Malaysian tigers since the country could not afford to lose them because they play a vital part in preserving the equilibrium of the forest ecosystem.
“I think the Malaysian tiger is a very important component of our natural world, and I think we have abused our natural world too much.
“We have lost so much, like the Sumatran Rhino and Leatherback Turtle. Next is the Malaysian Tigers.
“If we keep on going in the same trajectory we will have another pandemic and I believe it's important for us to look around us and take stock and do something about it.
“I think, after Covid, there's worse to come in the future if we do not take action,” she told Malay Mail.
However, she applauded the Department of Wildlife and National Parks which collaborates with the Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Armed Forces, veteran soldiers and forest rangers for stepping up enforcement to address this issue.
She also commended the survey team members for giving their best in the completion of the longest documentary project, which would not have been possible without their dedication.
“Each of our projects took a minimum of one to two years to finish, but I think this documentary took the longest because I wrote the proposal in 2005 on one million tigers, so you know we've been wanting to do this story for a very long time, and it is finally finished.
“I take my hats off to the survey team, because they go in for weeks at a time backpacking and they've got to bring their own food for the whole period of time and the conditions were so bad.
“Some of them even got stung by the bees and they had an allergic reaction while some fainted in the middle of the forest and they had to be carried out,” she said.
She added that the general public need to pay attention to the tiger extinction issue and take necessary actions instead of questioning the government all the time.
“My message for Malaysians would be, don't just ask the government what are you doing? I'm asking back what are you doing?
“We as Malaysians, need to step up to contribute our time and whatever that you can do. You do not have to give money but you can be a volunteer for an NGO.
Harun said that he was glad to launch the documentary which took five years of filming.
It covered almost 50,000 square kilometres with the help of technological enhancements despite the difficulties during the production.
“It wasn’t easy for us to carry a lot of heavy equipment all the way and it was tough to deal with unpredictable weather and leeches as well.
“The camera traps that we deployed in the early years were probably enough for scientific purposes, not for filming purposes but the camera traps that came in two years ago were quite amazing with full HD quality that operate with limited battery consumption,” he said.
Harun also said that he has done his role by filming a documentary to highlight an ongoing issue because that is the best that he can do for the country.
He encouraged the public to watch the documentary in order to have a better understanding.
“We're filmmakers, we are not scientists. We are filmmakers who make films to convince people and inform them that there is a problem and we need to do something about it.
The documentary will air on the National Geographic channel Astro Channel 551 tonight at 10pm.