The Tapir GalleryPeople Ask Us . . . FAQ
FAQ means "Frequently Asked Questions." OK, so some of these questions aren't asked that frequently, but they ARE important, and we thank you for asking them!
We love tapirs. We want to provide the best information possible for those who also love tapirs or are just learning about them.
Why is it bad to poach?
Q: I am a seventh grade student working on an environmental project about poaching. The question I am researching is, Why is it bad to poach, what effects does poaching have on the environment, what can one do to stop poaching? I would appreciate any help you could give me on my topic.
A: Hi Jeremy, I think you're going to have to do some reading to come up with the complete answer, but I can give you a few places to look and a brief comment on it.
Poaching means hunting illegally. There is a reason why hunting certain animals is illegal. In most cases it's because the animal is endangered or would become threatened with extinction of it's hunted too much (or sometimes if it's hunted at all). The animals are part of the environment, and they also help keep the plant life healthy by dispersing seeds and by leaving manure for the plants to grow. If you deplete the environment of its animals, everything will suffer. Education is one powerful way to stop poaching, and so is making laws and enforcing them. Some places have laws that are not enforced.
Good luck on your paper. Please see these resources:
Tapirs in "2001: A Space Odyssey"
From: "Andrew Katz" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Tapir/2001 questions
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 20:47:57 PDT
I have a few questions that I've been thinking about since seeing 2001: A Space Oddessy for the first time recently;
Thanks for your time,Q: What species of tapir were used in the film?
A: These were Tapirus terrestris, lowland (Brazilian) tapirs. Actually, they came from the Twycross Zoo in England. There were some books on the movie shortly after it came out and I read one or two of them.
Q: Were there really tapirs living in Africa around the time of the earliest humans? I see on your web page that there are none there now.
A: No! Africa is one of the continents where tapirs never lived. Sometime I'll put something online about their paleontology, but briefly, nobody knows whether their ancient ancestors began in Asia or North America. Tapir fossils for millions of years back can be found in Asia, Europe and what is now the U.S. (None found in Africa, Antarctica or Australia.) Paleontologists also don't know exactly what their migration patterns were. About 3 million years ago when the land bridge was formed between Panama and South America, they crossed it and settled in South America (again, migration patterns are not known). They died out in places other than their current range possibly as late as 10,000 years ago.
Q: Do you know why Kubrick chose tapirs for the film?
A: I expect it was because they look "prehistoric" and odd to most people, and because they actually did survive into the early ages of man. However, I've always thought it was strange to put them in that desert environment. Tapirs are quite adaptable, but probably at no time did they ever choose to live in a desert! Still, I'm glad he put them in the film.
Q: My daughter is doing an extensive project on endangered species. Her subject is the tapir, particularly the Malayan tapir. She cannot find any information on the number of tapirs in existence today - or in prior years as a comparison. Can you provide any info?
A: I'm glad your daughter is doing this project. It's amazing that we know so little about a very large and endangered species. Nobody knows how many Malayan tapirs are in the wild. For much of what we do know, please see this page:
Our best guess at the moment is that there are 3,000-plus Malayan tapirs left in the wild and about 200 in zoos around the world. As you can see, research and conservation are both critical. There are currently no projects in Southeast Asia focused on the Malayan tapir. (I don't believe there have ever been any good estimates for this species.) Funding is not readily available for tapir conservation or field research. One of the big problems in conservation of most tapir species is that so many people don't know what a tapir is. Even people living in the countries with them often don't know what they are. Of course the conservationists know, but it's hard to raise any interest, partly because it's hard to raise funds to work with tapirs. They are not a glamorous species - yet! Fortunately a little work is being done with Malayan tapirs by people working with other animals in the tapirs' habitat areas (such as tigers).
For status and conservation projects on the other species, see this newsletter:
If she hasn't found it already, I have a page of links that should be helpful:
However, if the project is really in-depth (and depending on her age) she may need to check the bibliography and start looking at scientific papers. If I can be of any more help, don't hesitate to write. Thanks for helping to teach the world about these animals!
Q: A question from Steph: I have been looking all over the place but I just can't seem to find the population of tapirs.
A: If you go to this page:
Click on the different links to parts of the world, then read down the page to each country, and estimates are given for that country. In some cases, we just don't know.
Q: Steph also wanted to know if the number of tapirs was increasing or decreasing, and she needed "about 3 other populations from different years in order to make a graph."
A: That would be an interesting graph, but I don't think the information is available, because tapirs have not been studied that much. One thing we can say for sure is that the numbers are declining drastically. This is due to destruction of the forests (rain forests and jungles) for farming, lumber, cattle ranching and human settlement. Hunting also causes the numbers to decline. With tapirs having one young about every 2-3 years, the numbers don't come back very fast. One thing I would definitely stress in your report is that tapirs have not been studied as much as some other animals, and very little is known about the populations.
Where do Asian (Malayan) tapirs fit in?
Reply from Stasha: Thank you for all of your help. For future times if anyone does ask-the kingdom is animalia, phylum is chordata, order is perissodactyla, class is mammalia, family is tapiridae and last the genus and species name is Tapirus indicus.
Tapirs are endangered species.
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