It's hard to believe that World Tapir Day is about to be celebrated for the eleventh time. What started out as a random thought and a post to a tapir group on Google Groups (now sadly long-since deleted) in late January 2008, WTD has become an event that is celebrated around the world every year, and has hopefully contributed to the increased awareness of tapirs and the threats that they face.
WTD was always meant to develop a life of its own. It was never meant to be a centrally-controlled event, but rather develop organically as more people and organisations became aware of its existence and adopted it as their own. There have been many highlights over the years, about which we had no forewarning. Discovering the countries in which events have taken place (25 at the last count), and the media coverage that WTD has received is a real source of enjoyment each year.
The most important aspect to WTD has been spreading the word about tapirs. Maybe tapirs would have received more coverage anyway, but I'd like to think that WTD has helped to increase their profile at least a little, and provided a focus for others' activities.
It's hard to come up with a short of highlights, but here are a few from the first ten years of WTD:
WTD has also raised funds for the World Land Trust and Rainforest Trust, and provided inspiration for others to also raise funds for both organisations, as well as other organisations.
Looking back, I feel it's fair to say that the initial concept of WTD has been met, and it continues to grow and receive more coverage. Here's to the next ten years of World Tapir Day and spreading the word about how wonderful tapirs are.
As World Tapir Day approaches for 2018, we remember Suzanne Davenport, who passed away suddenly on 10 November 2017.
Suzanne was a longtime supporter of WTD, and probably the most active of supporters worldwide. She brought flair along with her passion to her promotional and fundraising activities. She first contacted WTD in 2011 to let us know about her busking activities in the New York subway with her group The Violin Femmes, and each subsequent year became more prolific in envisaging new ways to increase the profile of tapir conservation and how to fund it.
Her passion for tapirs stemmed from much earlier - from first seeing them at the Wilhelma Zoo in her native Germany in the early 1990s. Last year she was excited to learn that the zoo was just about to host its first tapirs for some years.
In 2017, Suzanne organised the second "Tapir Aid" concert in a bar in New York, at which tapir-themed songs were played, raffles were held, and t-shirts were sold. Well over US$6,000 was raised to support Rainforest Trust projects in Peru and Tapir Specialist Group (TSG) activities. In 2016, Suzanne raised in excess of US$4,000 to protect tapir habitat in Sumatra, Indonesia. As soon as WTD 2017 was over, she was starting to explore new ideas for 2018, and was excited about each new concept she imagined, and shared them with excitement and passion.
Her passing came as a shock to the people that she was looking forward to meeting at the seventh International Tapir Symposium in November 2017 in Houston. She was looking forward to meeting the people who had supported her fundraising activities over the years, as well as the tapir researchers her activities had helped to fund. She was both excited and nervous about having a fifteen-minute slot to talk about her fundraising activities, and to motivate them to follow her lead and create activities around the world to help protect tapirs.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of World Tapir Day, Suzanne was working on ideas to expand her activities to Germany through friends in Berlin, and involving bars and breweries in the United States and Germany for fundraising for tapir-related conservation causes. In the weeks before her passing, she and I were in regular contact about how WTD could be promoted more effectively, and how she could be an even more prolific fundraiser.
The World Tapir Day blog. Posts about World Tapir Day, tapirs, conservation, the environment and random tapir-related topics.