SINGAPORE – People who come across tapirs should keep their distance from these large and powerful animals, said experts, after the rare creature was spotted running along a Punggol park connector on Sunday morning.
Mr Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan, a chief executive at the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), said: “The public should not approach the animal and should keep a safe distance as the tapir is most likely lost and stressed. They should also refrain from running or cycling after the animal.”
In a video clip posted on the SG PCN Cyclist Facebook group by user Pong Posadas on Monday, the tapir is seen running along the park connector, past a jogger and one more person pushing a skate scooter, before stopping.
In response to queries, Mr Ryan Lee, group director for wildlife management at the National Parks Board (NParks), said the board is aware that a Malayan Tapir was seen in Punggol.
He said: “NParks staff are currently deployed on the ground to monitor the area for sightings of the tapir.”
He added that sightings of tapirs in the wild in Singapore are rare.
Mr Lee said: “If members of the public encounter the tapir, remain calm and quiet and do not make any sudden movements. Do not attempt to approach or feed the animal. Keep a safe distance and do not corner or provoke the animal, for example, by using flash photography while taking pictures of it.”
Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Posadas, 38, said he was on his usual morning bicycle ride at the park connector and, at first, thought a horse was running behind him.
He realised it was a tapir only when he slowed down and let the animal overtake him.
He said: “I was shocked and amazed to see this beautiful creature.” He added that he made sure he was about 10m away from the animal while he filmed it.
After the tapir stopped running, Mr Posadas said he backed away until he was about 20m from the animal.
“I just watched it from afar until it went straight to an opening in the fences, straight to the river,” he said.
The video has been widely shared on social media, with more than 1,100 shares and 2,000 likes at 4pm on Monday.
This is at least the second time this year the Malayan tapir has been spotted in Singapore, after an earlier sighting in July.
The Malayan tapir is the largest of four tapir species, growing up to 2.5m long and weighing up to 500kg. It has a distinctive white patch across its back.
It is the only species of tapir found outside the Americas, and lives in lowland tropical rainforests in Peninsular Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.
The animal is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. It is estimated that about 2,500 animals remain in the wild.
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