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
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
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.