Malaysian Tiger Trip- Arrival


It’s no secret that we’re losing the tiger. Total population numbers in the wild are just under 4,000 and poaching and habitat loss seems to be increasing daily. Out of the 6 subspecies of tiger left, the Malayan subspecies is the most endangered. The South China tiger hasn’t been seen in the wild for over 25 years. Unfortunately, that subspecies is most likely extinct in the wild despite the effores of the re-wilding program.

The Malayan tiger was only separated from the Indochinese subspecies in 2004. Just a year ago it was listed as critically endangered and conservation groups like Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) have been fighting to keep it from extinction.


At last year’s Felid TAG (a yearly meeting of mostly cat keepers and Species Survival Plan managers) I ran into a friend that told me MYCAT was organizing a small group of keepers from the US to join its new Citizen Action for Tigers program.  Through this program, volunteers like myself, would hike in the forest along with MYCAT staff looking for signs of illegal poaching and tigers. This would be MYCAT’s way to get the local and worldwide community involved in actively working to save the tiger.

I was immediately interested. This trip promised to be less of what I could take away from the experience in terms of photos and videos, and more of what I could do to help fight poaching and promote MYCAT's efforts. During this trip, I will most likely not see a wild tiger but the tiger has brought me so much meaning to my life and job that the least I could do is try to clean up and protect its habitat.

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, and today our group met for the first time. The group includes keepers from all over the US as well as a conservationist and photographer from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. After meeting the group, I made a side trip to the National Zoo of Malaysia and saw a Malayan tiger. At least this way I can tell my friends back home I did see a tiger. The fact that it was safely in the care of a zoological facility and not running from poachers in the jungle is probably better.


Speaking of the jungle. I’m looking forward to getting up tomorrow and beginning our trek into the 130 million old tropical rainforest known as Taman Negara. My life is about to get very interesting…

-Brian Czarnik
Senior Keeper Large Carnivores- Brookfield Zoo

Posted: 6/15/2016 4:48:04 PM by Bryan Todd Oakley

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