BY the way, it has indeed been a sad start to the New Year for our majestic tigers, which are now said to number just under 400 in the wild.
We have lost six tigers, including two cubs, in just one month.
These are just the ones we know about and it is anyone’s guess how many more were killed or captured by poachers and wildlife traffickers. The latest case of another tiger incident happened in Tapah earlier this week when a 170kg, male tiger aged between 14 and 17-years was caught in a wild boar trap set by an Orang Asli near his village.
The injured animal — now named Yeop Tapah — will be spending the rest of its life in captivity at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai. This is apparently because it is too dangerous to be released back into the wild following its encounter with humans.
“It will attack humans. The tiger will remain at the centre for breeding and conservation purposes,” Perak Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Rozidan Mohd Yassin was reported as saying.
The tiger, which had hurt its right front paw after it was snared, is reportedly stressed but healthy. It is also said to be behaving aggressively due to its new surrounding.
Reading about Yeop Tapah’s sad story reminded me how I had written about the similar fate of 18 tigers which once roamed in the wild but ended up being confined in cages at the Malacca Zoo.
The story dates back to 2002 but it will forever be etched in my memory as it was the first time I had seen not one, but 18 of the majestic animals up-close. The tigers were locked up in two rows of cages which the zookeepers had dubbed “sel jenayah berat” (cell for hardcore criminals).
It had been so named as the tigers in the cages were all man-eaters ... all had tasted human blood before being captured. I will never forget standing paralysed with fear and in awe as the captured tigers roared out in pure anger upon seeing another human.
The sudden spike in tiger attacks back then happened due to increased human activities such as logging and other developments in forest areas leading to the destruction of animal habitat.
Almost a decade and a half later, the situation seems to have gotten worse for our tigers.
Now, no thanks to unbelievable obsession with superstitious use of tiger parts and pure greed, the majestic cats which used to roam our jungles in abundance are being hunted to extinction.