KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — The Malayan tiger is on the verge of extinction unless extraordinary measures are taken for its immediate conservation, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the tiger could become extinct in as little as five years to a decade.

“Their population is at an alarming level and they are indeed critically endangered. Based on the NTS1 conducted, the estimated Malayan tiger population is less, I repeat, less than 200.

“At this figure, it is estimated the species will be entirely extinct within a period of five to ten years if drastic extraordinary action is not taken immediately,” he told Kemaman MP Che Alias Hamid.

Wan Junaidi was answering on behalf of Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, who was absent from Parliament after contracting Covid-19.

The NTS1 refers to the First National Tiger Survey (NTS1) conducted from 2016 to 2020.

Che Alias,from PAS, had asked the government to state the efforts it was taking to protect the Malayan tiger from extinction.

Wan Junaidi said the government intends to extend the ongoing moratorium on the hunting of the Sambar deer — the favourite prey and primary food source of the Malayan tigers — which is set to expire this month.

Wan Junaidi acknowledged the dim future for the tiger in the wild and said the Cabinet had on June 16 agreed to nine strategic actions based on three approaches for the conservation of the species for a period of 10 years from 2021 to 2030.

"First, by strengthening enforcement, patrols on the ground, and the preservation and conservation of the natural habitat of the Malayan tiger.

"Second, by improving good governance and effectiveness in the implementation of conservation efforts.

"Third, by strengthening initiatives to ensure the survival of the Malayan tiger species through the provision of innovative financial instruments and the Malayan Tiger habitat accreditation scheme," he said.

Wan Junaidi also called for a stop on unchecked deforestation which directly diminishes the tigers’ hunting grounds which could force the animal to come into conflict with the human population to scour for alternative food sources.

“Actually, the problem here is human beings themselves because the tigers’ natural habitat is the jungle wilderness but instead we have gone ahead to deforest it.

“So the dwindling jungle habitat forces the animal to come face-to-face with the human population as they have a huge roaming area,” he said.

One of the key conservation efforts currently being undertaken by the government was to cooperate with various zoos both locally and internationally to ensure the species could be preserved through either natural or artificial breeding.

The Malayan tiger is Malaysia’s national animal and is also depicted in its coat of arms.

Since the start of the millennium, the species has drastically dwindled in population due to habitat fragmentation caused by human encroachment, commercial exploitation and loss of its primary food sources.

It is also categorised as Totally Protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act, and is classified as Critically Endangered under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List for Threatened Species.