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.
One of the challenges that we - "we" being the small group of WTD volunteers - faces is deciding what we communicate with you, our fellow tapir fans, about tapirs. It's no secret that our most popular posts throughout the year generally involve a video or series of photos of a newly born tapir. And that's no surprise, let's be honest - who doesn't like a baby tapir, or a video of a tapir being tickled and groomed? Sometimes a post on 27 April, World Tapir Day, attracts more publicity than we'd ever dreamed of in WTD's first year in 2008.
Every now and again, we post a link to an article about issues that pose serious threats to the longterm survival of all four extant tapir species (not to mention to individual tapirs). Two recent confronting examples are this post from the Malaysian Nature Society and another from Patricia Medici, President of the Tapir Specialist Group (NOTE: the links are confronting and contain disturbing reports about tapirs). When we share such reports, we do so in the knowledge that some readers will find the reports upsetting - as do we.
We share them with the best of intentions. We are firmly of the view that, regardless of the how confronting the reports and accompanying images may be, it is important that such information is shared. Part of our passion for tapirs is also about raising awareness of the threats that they face, and this includes reports that we wish didn't have to exist. But we know that not every supporter of WTD feels the same, and we've come in for criticism after some of some our posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We acknowledge this criticism and do take it to heart.
It isn't as tapirs are the only species that face similar issues. If you read news about rhinoceros conservation, the horrendous reports of poaching seem to be the predominant theme, and it can be difficult to find anything positive amongst the massive losses every year.
But World Tapir Day isn't just about what we think is important. The strength of WTD is the sense of community that has developed to support WTD's goals, not to mention share our love of tapirs. Part of the responsibility that we feel towards you is knowing how you feel about this topic. So please tell us below: should we continue to post the occasional distressing report, or should we only focus on the positive side?
The World Tapir Day blog. Posts about World Tapir Day, tapirs, conservation, the environment and random tapir-related topics.