Camera Trap Captures Rare Photos of Critically Endangered Malayan Tiger

A Malayan tiger captured using a camera trap.

Camera traps in Malaysia have provided a rare glimpse into the country’s wildlife and conservation efforts, especially those surrounding extremely rare Malayan tigers.

The tiger population in Malaysia has steadily declined from approximately 3,000 in the 1950s to fewer than 150 as of last year, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Even as recently as 2010, that number was estimated at 500. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species considers the species “Critically Endangered” and it is “Totally Protected” under the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2010.

Because of this, there are various conservation efforts to protect the animals in their native Malaysia. The animals and the race to protect them from extinction have been documented in images captured by WWF and wildlife photographer Emmanuel Rondeau using camera traps. Rondeau’s photos include a stunning sighting of one of these rare and elusive tigers, as well as other native animals.

Black leopard in Royal Belum State Park, Malaysia.

Tapir in Royal Belum State Park, Malaysia.

Sun bear in Royal Belum State Park, Malaysia.

“In Malaysia, the decline of our tigers reflects the complex challenges confronting these magnificent creatures throughout Southeast Asia,” Sophia Lim, Executive Director and CEO of WWF-Malaysia explains in a news release. “Capturing a photo of a Malayan tiger in its natural habitat is a rarity, yet each image serves as a source of hope and a poignant reminder of the ongoing efforts required to safeguard its existence.”

Camera traps are hidden and trigger when a built-in sensor goes off, like heat setting off an infrared sensor. They are considered ideal for capturing images of animals, especially those that are endangered, since they are less invasive than having a photographer embedded in a creature’s habitat.

A Malayan tiger captured using a camera trap.

Clouded leopard in Royal Belum State Park, Malaysia.

“Royal Belum State Park is one of the country’s last strongholds of tigers,” a WWF release reads. “Increasing tiger populations in Malaysia is by no means impossible and would be a historic achievement. But it requires political will, sustainable financing, and support from Indigenous Peoples and local communities.”

The images shared by the WWF highlight not just the tigers but also the anti-poaching efforts groups are taking to help natural wildlife thrive. Images show poaching snares removed from the area, for example. These wire traps are deadly and are often used in the hopes of catching tigers, the WWF says, further reducing the population.

Anti-poaching patrol members hold up a collected snare.

Tiger in Royal Belum State Park, Malaysia.

“Thanks to a dedicated anti-poaching patrol, conservation efforts have ramped up in recent years in an effort to halt the decline of tiger populations,” says the WWF. “In Royal Belum State Park today, there are 60 patrol team members, made up of Indigenous Peoples from community members in the area. They have already proved essential in reducing active snares by 98 percent inside the park.”

The images out of Malaysia show other big cats, including black leopards, also known as black panthers, and the tree-dwelling clouded leopard. Pictures also show the sun bear and the Malay tapir. The anti-poaching teams can also be seen walking through the wilderness in the camera trap photos.

Image credits: Photographs by Emmanuel Rondeau / WWF