04/18/2015, 00.00
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One-fifth of Malaysia’s animals endangered

Tigers and rhinos at risk due to human activity and poaching. According to the World Bank around 70 species of mammals out of 336 in the country are in danger. Activists: "We must act now."

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least one-fifth of mammal species found in Malaysia is facing extinction. This is revealed by the data provided by the World Bank, according to which in 2014 as many as 70 species out of 336 mammals were in danger. In this special classification Malaysia is the seventh in the world, while in Southeast Asia it is second only to Indonesia which counts 184 species at risk (the first in the world).

This makes Malaysia the most dangerous country in the world for species already at risk.
The list of endangered mammals include the Sumatra Capricorn, the Sumatran rhinoceros, the dugong, and the Malaysian tiger. Although the World Bank does not specify the causes of this situation, it is assumed that they have to do with activities such as deforestation, over-development, illegal trade and poaching.

Elizabeth John, Traffic activist [ a non-governmental organization that monitors global trade in wild animals and plants, ed], says: "This region has always been famous for its biodiversity. Unfortunately, this makes the region a magnet for those wanting to plunder such resources".
According to Elizabeth John, not only mammals but also birds, fish and plants are in danger: " Once these were lost, restoring them was not only expensive but almost impossible. It just makes more sense to invest in protection and fighting threats".
Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia director Dr Melvin Gumal said the data confirmed what biologists were seeing everyday.  “We must reverse this trend for if we don’t, our collective legacy will be the witnessing and documenting of the loss of our wildlife species,” he said.

Malaysian Nature Society president Henry Goh said stronger laws are needed against wildlife crime and more enforcement. However, he said it was not just up to governments to solve the problem but the public and businesses as well. “Everyone must do their part,” he said.

At least 100 live and stuffed tigers have been seized by the authorities between 2000 and 2012. It is a huge number in the light of the fact that the number of these animals still alive in Malaysia is between 250 and 340 specimens.

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