Some of the main threats towards Malayan Tapirs are deforestation for palm oil plantations and poaching. Additionally, flooding caused by hydroelectric projects and road accidents also contributed to the decline in their population. All in all, the endangerment rate is constantly dropping because there isn’t sufficient concern and effort made for Malayan Tapirs.
Deforestation for palm oil plantations
Habitat loss caused by deforestation is one of the greatest threats to the Malayan Tapirs. In Southeast Asia, large patches of rain forests are cleared to expand palm oil plantations due to the high demand for palm oil and for the sake of gaining profits. As a result of deforestation, residential animals such as Orangutan, Malayan Tapirs, Borneo Elephant, Sumatran Tiger and more have been forcibly pushed closer to extinction. On a larger scale, deforestation also caused problems such as haze, soil erosion, water cycle disruption and climate changes to worsen.
Deforestation leads to serious and disastrous consequences to the global environment, but why do people still partake in such activities?
Such a phenomenon will be explained with reference from the psychological perspective.
Based on prospect theory, people tend to prioritize overcoming current costs over possible future losses, or giving more focus towards current benefits instead of future gains. In this case, the need of palm oil plantation triumphs as compared to the consequences of deforestation. As consumers, we neglected the fact that our high demand on palm oil are what indirectly causes deforestation as large corporations are encouraged to choose the deforestation method to gain more supplies. However, most consumers continue to use palm oil products without any concern to whether it is sustainable or unsustainable palm oil. Tempted by the huge amount of revenues at hand, investors and large corporations chooses not to look at the big picture and decides to make short term profits instead. They neglected the fact that their behavior will ultimately result in negative impacts that will affect them as well with every passing day.
Formerly, poaching of Tapirs were less common as Tapir meat wasn’t pleasant and are forbidden by Islam rules. There are some hill tribes which believes that killing a Tapir brings bad luck. However, the hunting for Tapirs has increased these days. In Sumatra, Tapirs have been illegally traded to several zoos. In Thailand, a young Tapir can be sold for up to 5000 dollars. In Malaysia, hunters hunt Malayan Tapirs for private collections or for sale as meat in markets.
The Tragedy of Commons, coined by scientist Garrett Hardin in 1968, describes the lost resources in a group when individuals act in their own best self interests and ignore what’s best for the whole group. From the perspective of the Tragedy of Common, the endangerment of Malayan Tapir happened because every hunter maximizes their own self interest through excessive hunting. As a result, the population of Malayan Tapirs decreases rapidly with every additional hunter.
Hunters assume that by just hunting a few it won’t really affect the whole population. However, it is a cumulative effort and with every single hunt of Malayan Tapir even if its only by a few hunters, it will eventually lead to the extinction of the species. Especially when the two contrasting factors of the rising number of hunters are combined with Malayan Tapir’s low reproductive rate.
Besides deforestation and illegal trades, tapirs are frequently found dead by the road due to road accidents. This is due to the invigilance of human.
Government and Education System
Although Malayan Tapir has been rated as Endangered(EN) since year 2008, not much effort have been made by the governments and education systems.
An example of another endangered animal such as the Panda has its status upgraded from endangered to vulnerable(VU) due to various conservation effort made by China. China’s government has made great commitment into panda conservation such as putting in the effort to recreate bamboo forests, investing in panda habitats and successfully raising global awareness of the endangered status of panda.
In comparison, the Malayan Tapir isn’t as highly valued even in their own countries. In Malaysia, the government have not been paying attention to the living environment of Malayan Tapir as well as their remaining quantity. Ironically, Malaysian government actually spent 25 million to build a special panda house in the zoo, with additional cost of RM60000 every month to feed them, approximately 20 thousand in Singapore’s currency. All these amounts could have been spend on their own country’s unique species. Despite being the real master of this land, Malayan Tapirs are facing difficulties in the struggle for recognition.
There has been little to no effort made in terms of educating the younger generations for Tapir’s conservation. In the science textbook, knowledge about Malayan Tapirs and their endangered status has not been given. There is only the basic picture and the name being put under the category of mammals.
So what will happen if the Malayan Tapir really extinct? Let’s find out together!