Target: Kelly J. Russo, Marketing and Education Committee Coordinator for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Tapir Specialist Group
Goal: Increase public awareness of the need for conservation efforts for rare tapir species
Although they are often mistaken as relatives of pigs and anteaters due to their long, flexible snouts, tapirs are rare animals that are most closely related to horses and rhinoceroses. All four species of tapir (Baird’s, Brazilian, Mountain, Malayan) are endangered, their main threat being humans.
The various species of tapirs can be found in Mexico, Central and South America, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, and Indonesia. However, fossils of tapirs have been found on every continent, excluding Antarctica. They are the most primitive mammals in the world, and have changed little over the last twenty million years. This lack of change has made it difficult for them to combat deforestation and other manmade threats, including hunting for meat, hide, and sport.
Despite being a primitive species, tapirs are incredibly important to the ecosystems in which they live. They maintain the biological diversity of their forests by recycling nutrients and dispensing well-fertilized seeds. Their dung has been shown to contain as many as 122 different seed types, all of which increase soil vitality and provide other animals with consistent food supplies. In addition, the tapir is a highly sensitive species, and thus, their populations are indicative of the health of their entire ecosystems; they are the first animals to suffer when humans negatively interfere with the environment.
Although there are many groups and institutions, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Tapir Specialist Group (TSG), committed to increasing tapir conservation efforts, the public remains virtually unaware of the existence of this animal. Without public awareness and interest, there will never be enough resources to adequately preserve this species. Currently, the Mountain tapir species (found in the Andes Mountains of South America) is one of the most endangered mammals in the world, and yet there is little easily accessible public information about their plight.
By signing the petition below, you will urge the TSG to increase their public tapir education and awareness programs. By allocating greater funding and resources towards generating public awareness of this issue, conservation efforts will be more effective and far-reaching, therefore increasing the ability and likelihood of tapir populations to grow and thrive.
Dear Kelly J. Russo,
The TSG’s conservation efforts are commendable. The tapir is an important animal that deserves to thrive without fear of human threat or interference.
While the group’s efforts encompass a variety of programs, including a newsletter, symposium, and worldwide research studies, the public is still largely unaware of the plight of the tapir. If more people knew about this animal and its role in maintaining biological diversity in the ecosystems in which it resides, more financial and vocal support may be directed toward conservation efforts. Greater support would increase the likelihood of preserving and restoring all four species of tapirs.
As Marketing and Education Committee Coordinator, you have the power to advocate for the creation of programs that reach larger audiences and increase public awareness about this issue.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: LadyofHats via Wikimedia Commons