Animal Info - Malayan Tapir

(Other Names: Asian, Indian or Malay Tapir, Tapir Chabraque, Tapir dos Blanc, Tapir de la India, Tapir de l'Inde, Tapir Malais)

Tapirus indicus

Status: Vulnerable


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Density and Range)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Malayan Tapir #1 (37 Kb JPEG); Malayan Tapir #2 (98 Kb JPEG) (Tapirback)

The Malayan tapir weighs about 250 - 300 kg (550 - 660 lb). It utilizes various forested habitats, including swamp, lowland, montane and hill forest and prefers dense primary rainforest. Its diet includes grasses, aquatic plants, leaves, buds, soft twigs and fruits of low-growing shrubs. The Malayan tapir is primarily nocturnal. It travels long distances in search of food, habitually using the same paths. It climbs steep slopes well. Since it likes to bathe and wallow, it is often found around water and forms steps in river banks leading into the water. The Malayan tapir is found in lowland areas in the dry season and moves into mountainous areas with the rainy season. It is usually solitary, except for a female with young.

The Malayan tapir occurs in southern and central parts of Sumatra (Indonesia), Myanmar (south of latitude 18 N), Malaysia, and Thailand (along the western border and on the Peninsular down to the Malaysian border, and in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Thailand). It is also thought to occur in southern parts of Cambodia and Vietnam, and possibly Laos.  It still occurs throughout its historical range. However, it has been depleted throughout this range due to capture for the live animal trade, overhunting, and habitat loss, with remnant populations surviving in isolated habitats.


Tidbits

*** The Malayan tapir will apparently feed in disturbed forest, but not if primary forest is available.

*** All tapirs are good hill climbers and swimmers.

*** Tapirs are among the most primitive large mammals in the world. Their closest relatives are the horses and rhinoceroses.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

  • 1980's - 1994: Endangered
  • 1996 - 2000: Vulnerable
  • 2002: Vulnerable
  • 2003 - 2004: Vulnerable (Criteria: A2c+3c+4c) (Population Trend: Decreasing) (IUCN 2004) 

Countries Where the Malayan Tapir Is Currently Found:

2006: Occurs in Indonesia (Sumatra), Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. May occur in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. (IUCN 2006)

History of Distribution:

The Malayan tapir occurs in southern and central parts of Sumatra (Indonesia), Myanmar (south of latitude 18 N), Malaysia, and Thailand (along the western border and on the Peninsular down to the Malaysian border, and in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Thailand). It is also thought to occur in southern parts of Cambodia and Vietnam (although reports from this area are unconfirmed), and possibly Laos. (IUCN 2006) Although it still generally occurs throughout its historical range, it has been depleted, with only remnant populations surviving in isolated habitats. It is increasingly confined to the more remote mountain tops.

Distribution Map #1 (5 Kb GIF) (Huffman 2004)
Distribution Map #2 (46 Kb JPEG) (IUCN Spec. Surv. Comm.)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Reasons for its decline have included capture for the live animal trade; overhunting; and habitat loss, especially forest clearing for agricultural purposes


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The Malayan tapir weighs 250 - 300 kg (550 - 660 lb).

Habitat:

The Malayan tapir utilizes various forested habitats, including swamp, lowland, montane and hill forest. It prefers dense primary rainforest, near water bodies such as streams or swamps.

The Malayan tapir occurs in the Sundaland & Eastern Indonesian Archipelago Mangroves, Sumatran-Nicobar Islands Lowland Forests, and Sumatran Montane Forests Global 200 Ecoregions. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Age to Maturity:

2.5 to 3.5 years.

Gestation Period:

390 - 403 days.

Birth Season:

Breeding occurs in April - June, with the young being born about 13 months later.

Birth Rate:

1 calf per litter. The time between births is probably 2 years.

Early Development:

The young calf stays with its mother for 6 - 8 months, by which time it is nearly adult size.

Maximum Age:

30 years (captivity).

Diet:

The Malayan tapir's diet includes grasses, aquatic plants, leaves, buds, soft twigs and fruits of low-growing shrubs. Green shoots are preferred.

Behavior:

The Malayan tapir is primarily, although not exclusively, nocturnal. It travels long distances in search of food, habitually using the same paths. It climbs steep slopes well. Since it likes to bathe and wallow, it is often found around water and forms steps in river banks leading into the water. The Malayan tapir is found in lowland areas in the dry season and moves into mountainous areas with the rainy season.

Social Organization:

It had been thought that the Malayan tapir is usually solitary, except for a female with young. However, recent observations from as far apart as Sumatra, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Brazil suggest that in all four species of tapir, wild tapirs’ behavior patterns include much more companionship activity than previously believed, with a number of adult tapirs being observed traveling in pairs (Todd & Matola 1998).  

Density and Range:

There is a lack of reliable density values for the Malayan tapir, owing to the difficulties of surveying its habitat. (WCMC/WWF 1997)


References

Burton & Pearson 1987, Huffman 2004, Humphrey & Bain 1990, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2006, IUCN Spec. Surv. Comm., Macdonald 1984, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Tapirback, Todd & Matola 1998, WCMC/WWF 1997, ZooNet 1997


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Last modified: June 4, 2006;

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