Today is World Tapir Day! World Tapir Day exists to raise awareness about the species of tapir that inhabit Central and South America and Southeast Asia, and to raise funds to purchase land to protect it from human encroachment.
There are four (possibly five) living species of tapir, but only one species lives in this part of the world. The Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus) inhabits the forests of tropical Southeast Asia, but was always thought to be absent from Singapore. However, there have been claims of tapirs living on the island of Pulau Ubin.
The only definitive proof though came about in 1986, when a tapir fell into a granite quarry and died, presumably from the fall. Unfortunately, the carcass was not salvaged, and this photo, taken by a resident, is the only piece of evidence to show that at least one Malayan Tapir lived (and died) in Pulau Ubin.
To this day, there are no other official records of Malayan Tapir on Pulau Ubin, or anywhere else in Singapore. It’s possible that this particular tapir, and any other tapir that may have lived in Pulau Ubin, were strays that swam across from Johor.
Unfortunately, habitat loss and hunting are severe threats to the continued survival of Malayan Tapir elsewhere in the region.
This mammal is distantly related to both the horse and the rhinoceros and has undergone very little change during its 35 million-year evolutionary history. “Tapir” is a vernacular term meaning “thick” and refers to the animal’s tough hide. Using its long trunk-like nose, the tapir sniffs the ground in search of leaves, fruits, and grasses on which it feeds. Light colored spots and stripes that turn brown upon reaching adulthood camouflage immature tapirs.
So we were on our way to Kemaman on Feb 13 when She Yong suddenly spots something black and white by the East Coast Highway. No, it wasn’t a Panda, but instead it was Malaysia’s very own Tapir. This unfortunate Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus) was involved in a roadkill. According to the Terengganu Wildlife Department, fencing along the highway is vandalised in many places, hence enabling the Tapir to access the road.
If you ever encounter something similar, do you know you can contact the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) hotline? -1800 88 5151- OR, contact the MYCAT Wildlife Crime Hotline. - 019 356 4194- They will inform the relevant authorities. You can also call them to voice your concerns should you suspect something is amiss (e.g. ppl selling rare animals). But please note down important details such as location, time etc and take pictures, if possible.