Estimating the population density of the Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus) in a selectively logged forest in Peninsular Malaysia

Authors


Correspondence: D. Mark Rayan, WWF Malaysia, 49, Jalan SS23/15, Taman SEA, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Email: markrayan78@gmail.com

Abstract

The endangered Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus) is threatened by large-scale habitat loss, forest fragmentation and increased hunting pressure. Conservation planning for this species, however, is hampered by a severe paucity of information on its ecology and population status. We present the first Asian tapir population density estimate from a camera trapping study targeting tigers in a selectively logged forest within Peninsular Malaysia using a spatially explicit capture–recapture maximum likelihood based framework. With a trap effort of 2496 nights, 17 individuals were identified corresponding to a density (standard error) estimate of 9.49 (2.55) adult tapirs/100 km2. Although our results include several caveats, we believe that our density estimate still serves as an important baseline to facilitate the monitoring of tapir population trends in Peninsular Malaysia. Our study also highlights the potential of extracting vital ecological and population information for other cryptic individually identifiable animals from tiger-centric studies, especially with the use of a spatially explicit capture–recapture maximum likelihood based framework.

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