Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT), Malaysia

Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) is an alliance of 4 NGOs working to save Malaysia’s tigers. CAT is the first programme in Malaysia that enables the public to get involved in tiger conservation. CAT Walks (anti-poaching wilderness watches) bring small groups trekking or camping in the rainforests of the Yu River Wildlife Corridor, the sole link between Malaysia’s two largest forested areas. Together, they form the world’s fifth-largest tiger landscape (35,000 sq. km).

Volunteers look out for signs of poachers, snares, as well as tigers, elephants, sambar deer and other wildlife. Snares and traps found are recorded, deactivated and reported to the authorities. CAT Walkers also check camera traps to monitor wildlife. As a continual presence in the area is required to deter poaching, this project will run 2 scheduled weekend walks every month. Trips are led by trained and experienced leaders, and some are guided by indigenous Batek people who will teach volunteers the art of foraging and animal tracking. CAT helps increase: tiger and sambar populations, the Batek’s chance of preserving their traditional hunter-gatherer culture, local ecotourism opportunities; and is a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Update

To date, a total of 30 CAT walks and 12 reconnaissance walks have been held, translating into 375 human-days of protection on the ground.  CAT volunteers have walked and protected 210km of the corridor and western border of Taman Negara and MYCAT’s continued presence in the corridor has resulted in the gradual reduction of poaching and encroachment signs encountered over the years.

So far, 816 volunteers from 31 countries have been involved in helping save the tiger in this corridor and awareness and willingness to be ‘part of the solution’ is growing’ as attitudes locally are beginning to change.

Update November 2017: 116 CAT Walks have been conducted with participation from 340 volunteers, exceeding massively the targets of 30 CAT walks and 203 volunteers!  The threat index has gradually decreased over the last 4 years,  and the increased number of CAT walks means that new areas have been able to be patrolled which will continue to reduce threats to wildlife.

Thanks to the hundreds of global citizen conservationists walking and protecting the corridor from poachers and illegal loggers every year since 2011, previously vanished wildlife is gradually returning to the corridor.  While maintaining citizen patrols, future plans are to reforest and restore the most critical habitat within the corridor so that returning wildlife can safely cross it.

Image: CAT Walk. Image credit: Harrison Ooi, MYCAT