MERSING, Johor: A Malayan tiger which was spotted roaming near villages in Mersing in the state of Johor has been found dead, Malaysia's Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources said on Thursday (Mar 5).
In a media statement, the ministry said Malaysia's Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) received information that the carcass of a Malayan tiger was found near a plantation estate in Mersing at 12.30pm on Wednesday.
The statement said there were no signs of the animal being shot or attacked in any way.
"Officers from PERHILITAN believe that the Malayan tiger died from the canine distemper, the same virus which affected the Awang Besul tiger in Terengganu in July 2019," the ministry said.
Awang Besul, a 5-year-old tiger who was caught by authorities in Terengganu in June last year, died despite efforts to treat its condition.
Similarly, the tiger found in Johor was determined to have suffered from canine distemper because it appeared to be tame, unafraid of humans and, according to eyewitness reports, was constantly drooling from its mouth, the ministry said.
On Mar 1, the ministry received a complaint from a member of the public regarding a Malayan tiger seen roaming around a plantation in Mersing.
A video of the animal wandering about went viral on social media, and the story was widely reported by local media outlets, the ministry added.
Preliminary investigations by PERHILITAN revealed that paw prints belonging to the tiger was found and witnesses had seen it lying down near a plantation.
To ensure the safety of members of the public, PERHILITAN was tasked to patrol the plantation and surrounding areas to capture and move the animal to a safer location.
The ministry added that the PERHILITAN officials were there to also ensure that the animal was not killed by poachers.
The operation to capture the animal lasted three days, from Mar 2 until Mar 4, when the animal was eventually found dead.
The Malayan tiger is currently listed as critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature list of threatened species. Animal activists have said that this was due to rampant poaching.