Firemen rescue Malayan tapir trapped in ditch

Firemen rescue Malayan tapir trapped in ditch
Slow and steady: Firemen tying a webbing harness around the animal to lift it out.

KUANTAN - Firemen took nearly two hours to rescue a Malayan tapir from a ditch at Indera Mahkota here.

Pahang Fire and Rescue Department's public relations officer Anuar Hassan said they received a call from the public over the trapped animal at 2pm on Saturday afternoon.

"The Indera Mahkota station dispatched six personnel to the scene and began the rescue operation at 2.20pm," he said yesterday.

"The firefighters used a webbing harness to lift the tapir out of the ditch and then handed it over to the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) for further action," Anuar added.

Pahang Perhilitan director Khairiah Mohd Shariff said the male tapir (Tapirus indicus) was now being treated at the Jenderak conservation centre.

"It sustained some injuries to its legs when it fell into the drain," she said.

"We are now nursing it back to health.

"Once it has recovered, we will release it into the Krau Wildlife Reserve," she said.

Khairiah added that the tapir might have wandered off from its usual habitat before ending up in the ditch.

"In any case, the area surrounding Indera Mahkota is a scrub forest, and is not a suitable habitat for the animal," she said.

The Malayan tapir, also called the Asian tapir, is the largest of the five species of tapir, and is the only one native to Asia.

Once found throughout South-East Asia, the herbivorous animal is now considered an endangered species.

The Malayan tapir is characterised by its two-tone body, black at the front half and white at the other.

Fragmentation of habitats is a major concern here as it isolates already small populations of wild tapirs, putting each group in danger of extinction from lack of genetic diversity in the long run.

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