Rare sighting of endangered Malayan tapir at Changi

Chew Hui Min, Straits Times AsiaOne 26 Jun 16;

A tapir was seen near the coast at Changi at about 4.30am on June 24, 2016.

Photo: Lianhe Wanbao reader

SINGAPORE - A Malayan tapir was spotted in Changi on Friday (June 24) morning in a rare sighting of the endangered animal.

The herbivore is known for having a distinctive white patch round its middle, and a black head, shoulders and hind quarters .

In a blurry photo taken by a Lianhe Zaobao reader at about 4.30am on Friday, the tapir is seen trotting alongside a metal fence.

Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), said that it received a call about the sighting but the animal was "not in view" by then.

"We are keeping this case in view and hope that the tapir managed to swim to safety," she told The Straits Times.

As tapirs are not found in Singapore, it is possible that it swam over from southern Johor, said Mr Marcus Chua, Museum Officer for Mammal Biodiversity at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

The last sighting of a tapir in Singapore was on Pulau Ubin in 1986.

"It could be looking for new territory or pushed out of habitat because of development," said Mr Chua.

The tapir sighting is "extremely rare for Singapore", he added.

The nocturnal animal is dependent on the rainforest habitat. It feeds mostly on leaves, which it can grab using its prehensile snout.

It can be found in Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, and Southern Thailand, and is globally endangered, mainly due to habitat loss.

There are only about 1,500 to 2,000 in Malaysia according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

While the tapir looks like a wild boar with a longer snout, it is more closely related to horses and rhinos.

Malayan tapir spotted roaming around in Singapore
The Star 26 Jun 16;

PETALING JAYA: A Malayan tapir appears to be seeking its 15-minute of fame like Chickaboo the ostrich when it was seen roaming near the coast of Changi in Singapore.

It made the news in Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese newspaper in the republic, which reported yesterday that the nocturnal animal was seen running alongside a fence at a land reclamation area at around 4.30am on Friday.

When someone called Singapore’s Animal Concerns and Education Society, the animal had already disappeared into the sea.

A reader of Lianhe Zaobao captured the rare sighting on camera and passed the image to the daily.

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum researcher Marcus Chua Aik Hwee believed the herbivore had swum across the strait from southern Johor to Singapore.

“Tapirs are good swimmers and solitary creatures. This one might have taken a short rest at Tekong Island, or just swam straight to Singapore, I guess,” he told Lianhe Zaobao.

Chua said the rapid development in the region could have also forced the endangered animal to come out from its habitat.

Those who come across such animals should keep their distance and immediately inform animal protection organisations, he advised.

“Tapirs live in the forest. They are shy. Usually, they will not cause any harm to human,” he added.

It is believed that there are no wild tapirs in Singapore.

Its last sighting was in 1986 when residents spotted a pair on Pulau Ubin.

One of the four tapir species in the world, the main threat facing the Malayan tapir in peninsular Malaysia is agricultural land clearing and deforestation.

Between 2010 and last year, 68 Malayan tapirs were rescued in Malaysia while 54 were victims of road accidents in the past 10 years.

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