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Please Slow Down For The Malayan Tapir!

Please slow down for the Malayan Tapir!

The Malayan Tapir (Tapiris Indicus) is one of the most iconic animals found in Malaysia. And it is the only surviving member of its species in Asia. Its distinctive ‘white coat’, from shoulders to stubby tail, make it a characteristic species throughout the Malaysian landscape. They have 14 toes in total: four on the front and three at the back. Hence, they are classified as perissodactyles (odd-toed ungulates), a group of herbivores that include horses, zebras and rhinos.

Endangered status

Although tapirs are lucky for having few natural predators, this makes it all the more obvious that their endangered status is due to human activity. Deforestation is the leading cause that many tapirs end up as roadkill. In recent decades, Malaysia had one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. Combined with the massive expansion of the road network, this has taken its toll on the unsuspecting tapir. In fact, the Malayan Tapir is an easy target for speeding vehicles due to their poor eyesight.

Poaching and hunting tapirs for their meat and skin is also on the rise. Even the current trend and demand for exotic pets is affecting the poor animal, as tapir calves are cute and adorable. When you add up all human activities affecting this species, it is not so surprising that their numbers have been steadily decreasing over the years. And it is in danger of extinction.

Tapir roadkill
An adult Malayan Tapir killed by traffic collision

Conservation

Fortunately, the tide is slowly turning in favour of the Malayan tapir. The Malay Tapir Conservation Project, set up in 2008, has been actively contributing to tapir conservation in Malaysia. Also, in recent years, there has been a big shift in Malaysian public opinion and participation in favour of protecting Malaysian wildlife.

However, the biggest win to date is the recent announcement by PERHILITAN to build Malaysia’s first tapir conservation centre. This conservation centre will focus on tapir rehabilitation and breeding programme. It will also encourage research collaborations from local and international researchers to better guide conservation efforts. And there is a World Tapir Day on the 27th April every year. So, it seems that all hope is not lost. 

If you want to learn more about the Malayan Tapir, then consider joining our Rainforest Conservation programme. You will be able to immerse yourself in the tropical rainforest and learn more about this species, along with tropical forest conservation. And if you are lucky, you might even spot one!

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