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Singapore Tiger Week 2023: Uniting for Malayan Tiger Conservation

SG Tiger Week photo_revisedcropped
Dr Omer Ali Saifudeen (far left), Head, Military Studies Minor, SUSS School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences and Public Safety and Security (PSS) students at the Singapore Tiger Week with Dr Vilma D'Rozario, co-founder of the Singapore Wildcar Action Group (SWAG)

On 7 and 8 October 2023, the Singapore Wildcat Action Group (SWAG) and Heart for Nature collaborated to organise Singapore Tiger Week 2023, a conference titled "Singapore and Malaysia, Saving the Malayan Tiger Together."

The first day of the conference focused on the primary threats to tigers and the significance of wildlife conservation. Mr Ryan Lee, Group Director of the Wildlife Management and National Biodiversity Centre, addressed Singapore's responsibilities and actions, particularly the essential legislation and enforcement regarding wildlife trade. He stressed the importance of a comprehensive government enforcement approach, involving collaboration between agencies such as the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Singapore Police Force, which play crucial roles in combating illegal wildlife trafficking.

Apart from the Government representatives from Malaysia and Singapore sharing their strategic actions and plans for Malayan Tiger conservation, His Royal Highness, the Regent of Pahang, Prince Hassanal, conveyed the significance of the Malayan Tiger to him and Malaysia, outlining his aspirations for the future and his vision for collaborative efforts between Singapore and Malaysia. The first day concluded with Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development in Singapore, delivering the closing address.

On the second day, Ms Audrey Tan from the Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore, and Mr Anton Delgado from the Pulitzer Center discussed the Silent Forest Syndrome Project. This two-part story, centred around the health of Cambodia's forests post-pandemic, explores the heightened risk of zoonotic diseases and biodiversity loss linked to illegal wildlife trade, emphasising the importance of understanding these risks.

Subsequently, a closed-door panel convened, allowing experts to exchange insights and engage in a fruitful discussion about addressing gaps in the illegal wildlife trade. Singapore Tiger Week 2023 concluded with the song 'A Thousand Footsteps in the Mist,' inspiring individuals to take action against illegal wildlife trade, particularly concerning the Malayan Tiger.

Despite appearing as a distant security issue on the surface, the illegal wildlife trade is a complex and close-to-home threat. From the substantial commercial demand for tiger parts to the detection of snares, the conference highlighted multiple factors that must be effectively addressed to combat illegal wildlife trade, impacting environmental health and humanity's prosperity. This urgency is particularly crucial for the rapidly diminishing numbers of the Malayan Tiger, an animal cherished by both Singapore and Malaysia.

Ike Valerie Natasha, a Year 2 SUSS Public Safety and Security student, expressed, "Knowing so little about the Malayan Tiger and its daily activities should urge us to be more careful about our treatment towards them. The session left me with a deeper understanding of the connection between wildlife and public safety, also instilling a newborn sense of urgency to change our mindsets towards the conservation of such exotic animals."

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