If is easy to think that we should not be saving subspecies, but instead investing money in conserving other animals that are still threatened.
Unfortunately, this is the wrong way to look at it. Malaysia tigers only exist in a small strip between Malaysia and Thailand. The dense rainforest here has been standing in its current form for longer than the Amazon or the Congo.
In the 1950s there were 3000 tigers, yet in just 70 years this number has been reduced to just 200.
Subspecies are different – obviously, and their differences actually make a difference in the species survival, as well as its success. Introducing a subspecies from another area can have unexpected effects. If the subspecies is lost, then a different subspecies is likely to fill the niche better than none.
Tiger subspecies while extremely closely related, have evolved for millennia to be suited to their environment. If we take this to its extreme can you imagine reintroducing Sumatran tigers into the frozen wastelands of Siberia? The Amur tiger can measure 3m from head to end of tail, where as a Sumatran tiger only measures 2.4m
My feeling is that we should be moving from concentrating on specific species to ecosystems. it is certainly harder to generate the interest, but by looking at it on the ecosystem level we recognize that we need the apex predators for that ecosystem – whether they are a subspecies version of the tiger leopard or something else.
The Malaysian tiger population (part of the Indochinese sub species) has a small but pretty stable population of tigers of between 250 and 340.
Unfortunately there does not seem to have been any increase. Having set a target of 1000 members in 2020 back in 2008, their efforts appear to have failed. Indeed some sources suggest that this may be a significant over estimate now.
The Sumatran rhino was once found throughout out much of Southeast Asia including parts of India, Vietnam, China, Myanmar, Thailand as well as Borneo.
Now that the last known Sumatran rhino living in Malaysia has died it is thought that the Sumatran rhino is extinct on mainland Asia. As you can see by the list of countries that was found in it was once relatedly widespread and its decline has been rapid. While there is still a population of perhaps 80 living in Sumatra, its rainforest is still being cut down the main reason it is so endangered now. As one of the most ancient rhino species it is important that we maintain those members that have left to be able to form founding populations in the countries that is been lost from.
Whether this happens is anyone’s guess, unfortunately though given the demand for rhino horn and the decimation of rhino populations in all the countries they are found it is not certain that this population will will survive.