The Endau-Rompin-Johor core site, which began in 2007, is the longest running site implementing Tigers Forever, and has shown significant results in a short period of time. This site was originally selected because it was one of three priority areas for tigers outlined in the Malaysian National Tiger Action Plan, and had strong political support. In 2008, few staff were on the ground, and baseline measures of tigers, prey and threats were not available. An initial period of ad hoc camera trapping quickly revealed two male tigers and one female occupying the northern half of this site. The following year, an innovative field technique using occupancy surveys was developed by the Tigers Forever technical team and piloted in this site. From this work, a robust index of relative prey abundance was obtained for the entire site, a valuable baseline that will validate the effectiveness of conservation interventions in years to come. In 2010-11 a tiger population estimate was established for the entire core area. Collaborative law enforcement patrols were launched in 2009 and will continue as the project expands during the next few years. On the ground, this project grew from several individuals to over 40 field staff in two years, many of whom are young women, working in harsh conditions to collect valuable information on threats, prey and tiger numbers. After these successes in a short time frame, the Government of Johor was so impressed with the Tigers Forever strategy that they pledged RM 110, 000 (approximately $35,000) per year for ten years, and allocated six permanent staff to support these conservation efforts. The Malaysian Government has also placed a ban on all commercial hunting, including tiger prey species, throughout the whole province of Johor, and not one hunting license has been issued since April 2008.
This site was a primary testing ground for Panthera’s new camera traps (see Box 2), and Panthera will continue to outfit this Tigers Forever site with the necessary number of camera traps to closely monitor the whole site.
Among potential source sites for tigers in Peninsular Malaysia, Taman Negara National Park is the largest. The park consists of a range of habitat types from lowland to montane primary dipterocarp forests up to 1,300 meters. Two important habitat corridors, known as Linkage 1 (Sungai Yu) and Linkage 7 (Kenyir), adjoin the western and northern borders of Taman Negara, respectively. These important habitat connections consist of regenerating selectively logged lowland and hill dipterocarp forests. The current project, which began in 2014, is focused within Linkage 7 and part of Taman Negara National Park. This provisional ‘core area’ is bordered by plantations in the west, by a road and lake in the north, and by major rivers and ridges in the south east. Working with the Malaysian Government’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DW NP) and the conservation research group Rimba, the current project seeks to estimate the number of tigers in this transboundary Core Area and assess the feasibility of its long-term protection. Field teams comprised of DW NP rangers, researchers from Rimba, volunteers, and field assistants are deploying 200 Panthera V4 camera traps in a grid spanning almost 600 km2. Preliminary results are expected in August 2014.
Tigers Forever is currently being carried out in this country and five others: