In 2004, the tigers of Peninsular Malaysia were recognized as a new subspecies, the Malayan tiger, genetically distinct from the Indochinese tiger but with no differences in skull characteristics or fur color and pattern. The division between the two subspecies is at the Isthmus of Kra, a narrow land bridge that connects the Malay Peninsula with the Asian mainland. Malayan tigers inhabit rainforest, where they live at very low density due to low densities of their prey, such as sambar.
Threats to the estimated 500 Malayan tigers include habitat fragmentation due to agriculture, particularly clearance of lowland forest for palm oil plantations, infrastructure development, and poaching. Malaysia, however, has an outstanding master plan for maintaining or recreating connectivity among tiger populations, using the principles of Smart Green Infrastructure, and has committed to doubling its tiger numbers to 1,000 by 2022.
The scientific name of the Malayan tiger is controversial. It was called Panthera tigris jacksoni, after Peter Jackson, a renowned tiger conservationist. However, Malaysia contends that the name of its national animal should reflect its country of origin.
Recently recognized as distinct from Indochinese tiger
Panthera tigris jacksoni
Southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia, Tropical Forest