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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Malaysia killer tigers 'should be shot'
tiger
Tigers are an endangered species
The governor of Malaysia's north-eastern state of Kelantan has called on the army to hunt and kill tigers in the area after three villagers were mauled to death this year, according to local media reports.


The welfare of tigers cannot be above that of humans

Kelantan governor
Governor Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said Malaysia had enough tigers and that keeping them in zoos cost too much.

"They [tigers] are better off dead. I agree that they should be shot for there is no use in keeping them alive," he told the New Straits Times newspaper.

"The welfare of tigers cannot be above that of humans."

His statement has outraged local animal conservation activists, who said the tigers were an endangered species protected by law.

"We are shocked and appalled by this news," Mikaail Kavanagh Abdullah, executive director of the World Wildlife Fund Malaysia, said in a statement.

"The proposed slaughter is cruel, inappropriate, unnecessary and illegal under federal law."

Dwindling habitat

Mr Nik Aziz's remarks came after three deadly maulings near the town of Jeli in Kelantan.

The minister said the incidents forced local rubber and oil palm plantation workers to stay at home out of fear of further attacks by the man-eating tigers.

"Tigers must not be in Jeli anymore. Jeli is no longer a virgin jungle, it is quite well populated," he said.

He also said that the state government was preparing to pay the army to hunt down the animals.

Experts say tigers have been known to attack workers on rubber plantations, which are often established after clearing the animals' natural jungle habitat.

Usually, the animals involved are too ill to hunt their normal prey.

A woman in Kedah was killed by tiger while working on a rubber plantation several weeks ago, 500 kilometres (350 miles) north-east of the capital, Kuala Lumpur. The animal, a female, was tracked down and killed.

Experts estimate that only about 500 tigers remain in the wild in Malaysia.

See also:

23 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
03 Apr 02 | South Asia
27 Sep 01 | Science/Nature
08 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
05 Apr 01 | South Asia
29 Apr 02 | Country profiles
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