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The World's Tapirs--The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus)


Malayan Tapir Habitat Range
Malayan tapir range map
Map by Carlos Pedraza, TSG, 2008 (click to see larger)

Range: This species is found from southern Thailand and southern Myanmar (Burma) through the Malayan Peninsular and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It occurs in rainforests and lower montane forests. It survives well in secondary, regenerating native forests.

Characteristics: Up to 1.8 meters long (6 feet) and 350 kg (720 pounds). It is the largest of the four tapir species.

Status: Endangered

Conservation threats: Habitat destruction and fragmentation is the primary threat. Large scale deforestation, including illegal logging for timber, is a major source of habitat loss. The growth of palm oil plantations is also a major factor in habitat loss. Hunting is also on the rise as other large "prey" species in the area are reduced in number.

Population Estimate (2008): 1500-2000 individuals. Numbers are decreasing.

Mating: Primarily solitary, the species forms occasional associations for breeding.

Sounds: Communication is by a range of whistles of different pitch and duration.

Activity: More active throughout the night but often seen during the day, including feeding. The species frequently defecates in water as well as on land. The spraying of urine onto vegetation and trees is thought to be associated with home range marking. There is no evidence of exclusive territoriality. Males appear to have small home ranges (about 1-2 sq km) and females possibly range more widely.

Feeding habits: The species eats the twigs and growing tips of a wide range of understorey vegetation, including snapping small to large saplings with its mouth to get to plant parts that are out of reach. It also takes a large variety of fruits and leaves from the forest floor.

Other: A lot is still unknown about this species. It is vulnerable to predation by tigers. Its only defense is to run through thick vegetation. It has very thick and tough skin, particularly on its hindquarters. It also has a vicious bite.

Other names: Malayan tapir, badak (Malaysia and Indonesia), som-set (Thailand).
Details soon.

More About Malayan Tapirs
IUCN Red List Report on Malayan Tapir
Tapir Virtual Library

Thanks to Keith Williams for help writing this page.

Illustration generously provided by Stephen Nash, Conservation International

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