Tapir Specialist Group Logo The IUCN/SSC-affiliated Tapir Specialist Group is a global group of biologists, zoo professionals, researchers and advocates dedicated to conserving tapirs and their habitat through strategic action-planning in countries where tapirs live, information sharing, and through educational outreach that shows the importance of the tapir to local ecosystems and to the world at large.

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  Malayan Tapir Relocation Emergency

May 2004: We've excerpted some articles from the New Straits Times regarding some events of human-animal conflict in Peninsular Malaysia.

Relocating Endangered Tapir, Malaysia
By Elizabeth John and K. T. Chelvi, New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR - The small blue signboards lining the Shah Alam-Bandar Baru Puncak Alam road may be all that stands between the endangered tapir and speeding motorists who have killed several since last year. The signboards were erected in April after the death of three tapirs on the road that cuts through what was once the Bukit Cerakah Forest Reserve.  The Selangor Wildlife Department is attempting to trap as many of the remaining tapirs in the surrounding forests that have not yet been cleared to send them to a safer place.  The department's director Habsah Muda said her officers recently trapped two adult tapirs believed to inhabit the area and sent them to the Malacca Zoo.  The department has also relocated monkeys, pythons and civet cats to the Hulu Selangor and Sungai Dusun forest reserves.  The area where the tapirs are thought to roam is being cleared for a Universiti Teknologi Mara campus.  Habsah confirmed that at least three adult tapirs were knocked down by vehicles plying the unlit road last year.  Checks with traders along the road, however, revealed that there had been at least two other deaths early this year.  Misli Manan, who has been selling food and drinks along the road for the past year, said he saw one large tapir that had been knocked down by a vehicle which was later hauled away in a tractor in January.  He said another smaller tapir died while its companion was badly injured in another accident.  Habsah said the relocation of the animals had been planned to start earlier and the department had forwarded a proposal and a budget to UiTM for the programme.  However, she said it had taken a while for the budget to be approved and in the meantime clearing work for the construction of the campus had proceeded. 

Habsah said determining the population of tapir in the area required a study that would be time consuming considering the vastness of the Bukit Cerakah forest reserve.  "The urgent task at hand is to relocate the animals to safer ground as quickly as possible," she said.  Sources said that there have been at least seven cases of tapir being killed in accidents in the area since early 2003.  The Bukit Cerakah forest reserve was an area well known as home to tapirs.  The male species could reach 300kg but the tapir is usually an elusive animal which is difficult to trap. The animals are known to come out of the forests at night and end up along the road.  The tapir is a totally protected animal in Malaysia. It is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora which means it is threatened with extinction.  It is also listed as "vulnerable" in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Red List.
 

Saving Tapirs From Turning into Road-Kill, Malaysia
By Elizabeth John, New Straits Times
 
KUALA LUMPUR - A fence, humps and lower speed limit could prevent more tapirs from being knocked down on the Shah Alam-Puncak Alam highway.  All it takes is a request and funding from the State Government, according to Public Works Department director-general Tan Sri Zaini Omar.  Since last year, four tapirs have been knocked down on the 13km highway that cuts through a forested area.  The deaths of the animals came to light in a New Straits Times report last week.  At present the speed limit is 90km per hour and the only warning motorists have of the presence of tapirs in the area are four small blue signboards.  Zaini said the speed limit could be reduced to 40km or 50km per hour if the State requested it.  If this was insufficient, humps could be placed along the road, he said. 

Zaini said a fence could also be constructed along the two-lane highway to prevent tapirs from straying into the road.  It could be a temporary safeguard while the Selangor Wildlife Department worked to trap tapirs and relocate them, he added.  On the possibility of constructing a flyover which would allow tapirs to cross unharmed underneath, he said a four-kilometre stretch would cost RM160 million.  Zaini said the recommended measures could have been put in place earlier if the PWD had been informed.  He said it was up to the State to make a request to the State PWD and provide funding for the project.  The road was opened to traffic in February last year.  It was constructed by a private company and handed over to the State Government.  In March last year, a tapir was knocked down on the road near the site of a proposed Universiti Teknologi Mara campus.  Another was knocked down in June, one in July and the fourth in February this year.  Two tapirs were trapped in the area and have been placed in the Malacca Zoo. 

Following news reports, the Wildlife Department announced that the trapped tapirs and others to be caught in future would be part of the country's first tapir captive breeding programme.  The tapir is a totally protected animal in Malaysia.  It is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which means it faces the threat of extinction.  It is also listed as "vulnerable" in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Red List.

First Captive Breeding Programme for Tapirs, Malaysia
By Elizabeth John, New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR - Threatened by development and trapped in small pockets of forests, tapirs rescued in Selangor will soon form part of Malaysia's first captive breeding programme for the totally protected animal. Trapped tapirs, including those found in areas fringing the Shah Alam-Puncak Alam highway, will be placed at the Tapir Breeding Centre in the Sungai Dusun wildlife reserve.  The centre is expected to begin its programme by late this year, the Selangor Wildlife Department director, Habsah Muda, said here today.  The site was last used for the Sumatran Rhino Conservation project which came to an end late last year when all its rhinoceros died.  The department has trapped eight tapirs in Selangor since 2002.  Two of them were trapped in a forest that will soon be cleared for a Univesiti Teknologi Mara extension campus in the Bukit Cerakah area.  The others were trapped in Sungai Besar, Dengkil, Bukit Kapar, Batang Berjuntai and Gombak. 

Rapid development in the State has also seen several tapirs killed.  One was knocked down along the Tanjung Malim-Rawang highway and four along the Shah Alam-Puncak Alam highway since 2002.  At present, tapirs trapped will be sent to the Malacca Zoo for treatment before being transferred to the captive breeding centre.  Habsah said that once the centre was ready, tapirs trapped or rescued could go straight to Sungai Dusun.  Other animals that have been trapped at the UiTM project site are the Malayan porcupine, Large Indian Civet, Common palm civet, Water monitor, python, pig tailed macaque, long-tailed macaque and leaf-monkeys. 

Due to the deaths and the significant number of tapirs thought to be trapped by development, the department will ask the State Government to make developers carry out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for development projects under 40 hectares.  At present, the Environment Quality Act 1974 requires that an EIA be done for projects covering areas larger than 40ha.  Habsah also submitted a paper to the Government last year recommending that a fund be set up to relocate wildlife displaced by development.  She will also recommend to the State Government that developers opening up forested areas be made to contribute a sum to the translocation fund and that this be made a regulation for future development projects in the State.  Habsah said at present, the State Government had allocated funds for a project in Sabak Bernam where wild pigs (babi hutan) had to be removed from an area earmarked for agriculture projects.  She said the wild pigs would not be translocated.  Instead they would be hunted by licensed hunters under the supervision of the department.  Wild pig is a protected animal, but is listed under Schedule Two of the Protection of Wild Life Act 1972 as a game animal which can be hunted under specific conditions.