A Malayan tapir is doing just fine and bringing us more adorable baby tapirs in the world right now, if anyone cared. If you don’t, you would have known that what we stated just now is a lie.
So, why would we even say that? Well, a papier mache tapir recently garnered the attention from the public on the last day of the “1,600 Pandas” world tour exhibition in Publika Shopping Gallery.
Since December last year, the public became aware of the panda conversation through “1,600 Pandas” world tour exhibition in Malaysia. The exhibition made its last stop at Publika Shopping Gallery for about 2 weeks before it ended on 25th Jan 2015. It was the government’s latest effort to raise awareness and educate the public on the panda conservation after China loaned Malaysia the two star pandas, Fu Wa & Feng Yi, as a symbol of the 40 years diplomatic relationship between 2 countries.
Although the zoo officials including Junaidi Bin Omar and Shahril Shariff had expressed their excitement about the panda’s arrival, they reminded us our local endangered species that everyone might have forgotten about – the Malayan tapir.
Pandas are unique animals that symbolise peace because they represent the Yin and Yang. But our Malayan tapir is also black and white, is like our Malaysian panda. I hope that with the pandas’ arrival, people will learn more about the tapir as well.
The negligence of the tapir was further proven at the exhibition as most people were unaware of the presence of the papier mache tapir in the sea of the papier mache pandas.
Its appearance at the exhibition was supposed to serve as a kind reminder that our local tapirs that share the same colour scheme as these pandas are in the danger of extinction too. Despite being a protected animal in several regions including Malaysia, the number of tapirs have decreased over the recent years and according to our research, there are fewer than 2,000 tapirs left in the world.
The Malayan tapir mainly resides in the tropical lowland rainforest of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Vietnam. They have lesser natural predators but human activities poses a fundamental threat to them. In some regions of Southeast Asia, the tapirs are hunted for sport or shot accidentally by then hunters. Although multiple governmental and non-governmental organisations have started a number of conservation projects to save the tapir, the tapirs continue to be threatened by the habitat loss due to the lack of awareness campaigns.
The Sungai Dusun Wildlife Conservation Centre was the home of 34 tapirs when they first started the tapir conservation project in 2007. But as of 2011, the centre was left with 7 tapirs. There are a total of 12 tapirs (5 males and 7 females) residing at the Malay Tapir Conversation Centre (MTCC), and the number of tapirs in the centre is said to be half of the captive population in Malaysia. While keeping the tapirs healthy and disease free, the centre also tries to maintain the tapir population by pairing up males and females at the right time for breeding.
The MTCC offers ideal facilities for visiting researchers and students but due to the lack of awareness campaigns, the tapir conservation received less attention from the public.
So, what can we do about it?
Well, a community of kind-hearted people who have been part of the conservations around the world has recently started the #TapiTapir awareness campaign to educate public on the tapir conservation. According to their Facebook page, we are now left with approximately 369 tapirs in Malaysia and the numbers will continue to decrease if we aren’t doing anything to save them. Their first awareness campaign was held on the last day of the panda exhibition, where they placed a papier mache tapir and a board with the hashtag #TapiTapir near the papier mache pandas.
Most people seemed to be unaware of its presence but for those who were, they’ve expressed their interests in the tapir conservation. Local merchandising marketplace Threes & Tees was among the first to spread the awareness by creating the #TapiTapir T-shirt and donating 50% of the proceeds of the merchandise to the Tapir Conservation in Malaysia.
MYCAT, which is an alliance of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), TRAFFIC Southeast Asia (TSEA), Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme (WCS-Malaysia) and WWF-Malaysia, has also spread the awareness by informing the public about the poachers’ snares on the endangered species. The organisation urged everyone to put in effort to save the endangered species (including Malayan Tiger) and support Jabatan Perhilitan Semenanjung Malaysia’s anti-poaching efforts.
Although the World Tapir Day is held each year on 27th April, there are many ways for us support the tapir conservation projects. You may visit the following websites for more information:
- Malay Tapir Conservation Project
- Tapir Specialist Group
- Lowland Tapir Conservative Initiative
- Department of Wildlife and National Park
We are not affiliated with, endorsed, or sponsored by Tapi Tapir but this is our simple act of spreading awareness and showing support to this community of kind-hearted people. If you’d like to, support the tapir conservation projects and remember to use the hashtag #TapiTapir so that your efforts can be seen.