SpeakingOfAsia

Putting the tiger back in South-east Asia

It is time Asean restored the tiger to front and centre of its consciousness

Since the 1980s and well until the Asian Financial Crisis devastated regional economies, the talk was of the tiger economies that helped boost the legend of the East Asian economic miracle. These "Asian tigers", though, too often expanded at the cost of the animal that was their mascot, if not totem.

On the Malay peninsula and in Indonesia's Sumatra island, spreading oil palm and acacia plantations destroyed forest land and ate into biodiversity, crimping the natural habitat of these most magnificent of wild cats and others that share space with them. Elsewhere, and particularly in Cambodia and Vietnam, widespread poaching wiped out tiger populations.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2018, with the headline 'Putting the tiger back in S-E Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe