Recently articles appeared in the newspapers about tiger cubs being offered
for sale. It all began when a concerned individual heard rumours that a
tiger cub had been caught in Pahang and sold to a restaurant in Kuala
Strange as it may be to the average Malaysian, tiger meat and
bones are sought after by some people who believe that it can cure illnesses
like rheumatism and hypertension. Fresh tiger meat can fetch as much as
RM1,000 per kilogram. The going rate for tiger bones is RM600 per kilogram.
The tiger is a protected animal. Poachers can be jailed or fined if
caught. However, the tiger trade is so profitable that the animal continues
to be in danger.
The story of a tiger cub called Nicky caught public attention. Nicky was
saved from the cooking pot by an animal lover. The Malaysian Trade
Commissioner to Papua New Guinea learned that a tiger cub had been sold to a
restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. He paid more than RM10,000 for the cub and gave
it to the Malacca Zoo to keep. Mysteriously, the cub disappeared from the
animal clinic where it was being kept for examination. For two days the
public worried. Many people feared that the animal had been stolen. To the
relief of the zoo staff and the concerned public, Nicky was found safe. She
was playing near the tiger enclosure. Luckily, it had rained so at least
there were puddles of water for her to drink. She was hungry but appeared
none the worse for her adventure. Nicky could have wandered out when some
employee carelessly left her enclosure unlocked. The other possibility was
that someone had tried to steal her. When that person realized that the
tiger is a protected species, Nicky was returned to the zoo.
Human beings are strange. The desire for exotic foods appears to be
universal. People eat bears' paws, camel humps, duck embryos, ostrich and
even crocodiles. The list appears endless. Nobody really seems to have
strong objections. As a result, some animals look to be in grave danger of
disappearing from the face of the earth.
Turtle eggs were and still are a delicacy in many places. Now, many
species of river and marine turtles are in danger of extinction. About fifty
years ago, a major tourist attraction in Terengganu Darul Iman was to watch
the giant leatherback turtles laying their own eggs on the beach. These
faithful creatures come back loyally to the same beaches they hatch from to
lay their eggs. Over the years, many of the eggs were eaten and now the
sighting of a giant leatherback is a rare event.
What is the lesson for all of us? Like a wise American Indian chief once
said, the earth is for all of us to share. We have to protect earth's
creatures so our future generations will be able to enjoy them too.