The hard truth about nature in Southeast Asia

This article may be confronting. I discuss the hard truth about nature in Southeast Asia and even predict its future. As a world cyclist I raise money for the protection of endangered species in Southeast Asia. I share in this article my independent opinion and personal experiences about the situation. I spoke with a tiger expert in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

What is the situation of nature in Malaysia and other countries in Southeast Asia?

My way to Southeast Asia

I am currently in Kuala Lumpur. I have cycled to this city from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. A journey of nearly a year was needed to arrive here. Meanwhile I have cycled for more than 15000 kilometers and have crossed 25 countries. In Malaysia, I dig a little deeper into the conservation of nature. Nature is one of the main reasons I cycle. Snowy mountains, deserts, highlands, green jungles, it all attracts me.

Malaysia is divided into the western and the eastern part. The eastern part is bordering with Indonesia. I cycle my way through the western part, also called Peninsular Malaysia.

In Kuala Lumpur I spoke with Mark Rayan Darmaraj, a tiger expert here in Malaysia. Mark works for the World Wide Fund for Nature and his work is focusing on the protection of the tiger.

Together with WWF Malaysia tigers expert Mark Rayan Darmaraj

Mark fights for the tiger within the project Tx2. The goal is to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. One of the main threats to tigers is poaching. Poachers kill tigers to sell parts on the black market in China and other Asian countries. Here, parts of the tiger, such as whiskers and claws, are used in traditional medicines. Furthermore, loss of habitat by agriculture is a threat.

Bad news

To begin with, we got bad news. Very bad news. The dream of Ringo to go on a picture together with a wild rhino fell apart. The Sumatran rhino is last year (2015) declared extinct in Malaysia. This means that in Malaysia there are no rhinos living anymore in the wild.

Ringo looking at Palm trees

The main reason for this is poaching and the loss of habitat.

About nature and wildlife

The fast economic development of countries in Southeast Asia make it virtually impossible for the larger wild animals to survive. There is simply too little priority for nature within the economic growth experienced by the countries. Nature is a victim of the rapid pursuit of prosperity.

This is unfortunately the harsh truth.

Meanwhile rhinos can no longer live in the wild in Malaysia. In a few year the tiger might also become extinct. And after that probably the elephant too.

Or not?

What if the tiger really extinct in Malaysia? This question I asked Mark. He explains that this will be a major threat to a nature which is in balance. The consequences can not immediately be noticed but eventually nature becomes exhausted. The extinction of animals are a signal, a call from nature. It is therefore important to find a healthy balance between economical growth and the conservation of nature.

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People like Mark are fighting to keep the animals alive. In Malaysia, the government established not long ago a trust fund for the protection of nature. It is a step forward but a small step.

In the future it will be even more difficult for the major species to survive anywhere in the world. With nowadays globalisation, countries develop in a really fast way. I learned with my cycle tour that countries all over the world sought the prosperity we have in the Western countries. It affects our nature. But should this lifestyle be the reason that all these species become extinct?

No absolutely not!

I still believe in a nature where life is possible for these threatened animals. I believe in a healthy balance between economical growth and the conservation of nature.

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I believe in a sustainable solution and that is to make people aware of the situation here in Southeast Asia. Awareness by the local population which will lead to a more effective way of dealing with nature. It is a hard process. Without continues effort in the conservation of nature future generations can live no more on this planet. We as humans are part of nature. At some point, it also stops for us.

Something must change

The World Wide Fund for Nature is dedicated to raise awareness and improve the situation. People like Mark cooperate with the local population to protect nature and wildlife. To combat poachers. To protect the habitats of wild species. To help local people to obtain income in a sustainable way from nature.

This is the reason why I raise money for this fund.

Please consider to do a donation by clicking here.

By clicking here you can watch a wild Malaysian tiger in a video made by the WWF Malaysia.

Thank you so much for your time, interest and hopefully your donation!