PETALING JAYA: A Malayan tapir appears to be seeking its 15-minute of fame like Chickaboo the ostrich when it was seen roaming near the coast of Changi in Singapore.
It made the news in Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese newspaper in the republic, which reported yesterday that the nocturnal animal was seen running alongside a fence at a land reclamation area at around 4.30am on Friday.
When someone called Singapore’s Animal Concerns and Education Society, the animal had already disappeared into the sea.
A reader of Lianhe Zaobao captured the rare sighting on camera and passed the image to the daily.
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum researcher Marcus Chua Aik Hwee believed the herbivore had swum across the strait from southern Johor to Singapore.
“Tapirs are good swimmers and solitary creatures. This one might have taken a short rest at Tekong Island, or just swam straight to Singapore, I guess,” he told Lianhe Zaobao.
Chua said the rapid development in the region could have also forced the endangered animal to come out from its habitat.
Those who come across such animals should keep their distance and immediately inform animal protection organisations, he advised.
“Tapirs live in the forest. They are shy. Usually, they will not cause any harm to human,” he added.
It is believed that there are no wild tapirs in Singapore.
Its last sighting was in 1986 when residents spotted a pair on Pulau Ubin.
One of the four tapir species in the world, the main threat facing the Malayan tapir in peninsular Malaysia is agricultural land clearing and deforestation.
Between 2010 and last year, 68 Malayan tapirs were rescued in Malaysia while 54 were victims of road accidents in the past 10 years.