Where are our wild cats? Alarming conservation facts from Lam Wai Yee, Country Manager for Panthera Wild Cat Conservation Malaysia.
Tell us a short background of Panthera.
Panthera is the only organization in the world that is devoted exclusively to the conservation of the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 40 wild cat species and their ecosystems. Our headquarters is in New York and Panthera Malaysia was established in early 2020 to continue investing conservation efforts into protecting the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wild cats in support and partnership with the Government of Malaysia.
Ã‚Â What exactly do you do then?
In Peninsular Malaysia, Panthera’s Project Kenyir focuses on the monitoring and protection of the three biggest cat species in the Kenyir-Taman Negara Core Area: the Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni), the Leopard (Panthera pardus), and the Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).
Ã‚Â On the island of Borneo, Project Dupot focuses on protecting the smaller wild cat species and their prey in the Deramakot Forest District, a mixed-use landscape located in Sabah. Utilizing counter-poaching strategies developed for this region, we work closely with the Sabah Forestry Department to increase security across the Deramakot landscape.
What is PantheraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mission?
We want to ensure a future for wild cats and the vast landscapes on which they depend on. We hope to live in a world where wild cats can thrive in healthy, natural and developed landscapes that sustain people and biodiversity.
Tiger pawprint (Picture courtesy of Panthera Malaysia)
What is the biggest challenge for Panthera?
Global biodiversity loss is at its worst since the 1970s. In Malaysia, we have witnessed an alarming decline of the Malayan tiger from 3,000 to less than 200 individuals in the wild today. This catastrophic population decline is driven by a range of threats, including poaching of tigers and prey for the illegal wildlife trade, overhunting of prey species by local people, and habitat loss and fragmentation. PantheraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Project Kenyir focuses on the monitoring and protection of tigers, leopards, and clouded leopards in the Kenyir-Taman Negara Terengganu landscape.
A number of landscapes in Malaysian Borneo are considered the last strongholds for threatened small cats such as the flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps), Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi), marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata), and endemic bay cat (Catopuma badia).Ã‚Â However, habitat loss and incessant poaching are risking the future of these cats and thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very little science on how they respond to extreme habitat modification. This is especially worrying for the flat-headed cat, as recent surveys haven’t found them in areas where they were previously recorded. Our Project Dupot in the Deramakot landscape in Sabah is focused on identifying the core zones for these small cat species, as well as learning how they adapt and respond to habitat modification, so we can prioritize protection efforts.
If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to show your support or learn more about Panthera, please visit their website: www.panthera.org/malaysia