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?
As part of the overhaul of the World Tapir Day website, a blog has been added - welcome to what is now the second post on it!
New WTD website and a call to arms
The big news from WTD in January has been - not surprisingly - the relaunched website. It has been a long time in concept, a relatively short time in development, but a very long time in need. The original website was developed in early 2008 (in preparation for the first WTD), and whilst there were updates to it, the underlying software and structure proved to be far more complicated to maintain than had been anticipated. Rather than being able to focus on content, a lot of time was spent on keeping it functioning. Over the intervening years, the Facebook page became the primary World Tapir Day presence on the Internet, with our Twitter account playing a secondary role in spreading the tapir conservation message.
With the start of the new year, we decided that it was time to finally retire the old site and deliver the website that was planned from the beginning. Instead of focusing on software updates and maintaining databases, the new backend allows us to get on with the important work - World Tapir Day and raising awareness of tapir conservation.
This is where you come in. World Tapir Day is a volunteer-run project, and without volunteers, we aren't able to achieve as much as we'd like to be able to. No matter where you live or what your experience is, we'd love to have your involvement. The WTD plan for 2015 involves a lot of website content creation, news updates, media releases and the development of information resources for people and organisations wishing to celebrate World Tapir Day around the world. This involves a range of skills, including graphic design, copywriting and website and social media updating, not.to mention develop creative ideas about how the message of tapir conservation can be promoted to a wider audience. One does not need to be a tapir researcher (but we'd love to have some write a few articles for us!) to be part of the WTD effort - a willingness to contribute and a love of tapirs is all one needs.
It you would like to be part of the World Tapir Day experience, please get in contact with us.
Tapir reports and news highlights: January 2015
Heather D'Angelo's article on Mongabay gives an insight into the work of the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative (LTCI) that was founded in Brazil in 2008 to conduct long-term research into new insights into the relationship between the health of tapir populations and their environment. The research studied tapir population from two of the four Brazilian biomes: the Pantanal and the Atlantic Forest, and is being used to develop conservation strategies and inform landowners about how best to manage their livestock to reduce the impact on native species.
- "Time for a checkup: researchers examine the health of lowland tapirs", 7 January 2015.
Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz called for groups to look into the conservation of another “black and white” animal – the equally endangered Malayan tapir –.at the launch of the World Panda Tour in Malaysia. Since the announcement in mid-2014 of China loaning a pair of pandas to Malaysia, there has been recognition in some quarters of Malaysian society that the high profile panda attracts far more conservation attention than Malaysia's own species.
The birth of a Malayan tapir calf at Edinburgh Zoo on New Year's Eve has received extensive media coverage. The male calf has been named Mekong, after the delta river which flows through where the animals are found in the wild, and he is said to be "lively and very distinctive".
Malaysian magazine Hype has covered the #tapirtapir campaign that was launched in response to the "1,600 Pandas" exhibition that has been touring Malaysia recently. The appearance of a lone papier mache tapir at the exhibition served as a reminder that tapirs face extinction too. Despite being a protected animal in several regions including Malaysia, the number of tapirs continue to decrease, with perhaps fewer than 2,000 Malayan tapirs remaining.
A Brazilian tapir at the Municipal Park Zoo "Quinzinho de Barros" in Brazil has undergone dental surgery to treat teeth that were preventing him from eating (link in Portuguese).
It's been a long time in coming, but it's finally here. Welcome to the new website for World Tapir Day!
The WTD website existed in its previous form since the creation of World Tapir Day as a concept in early 2008. Whilst it served the purpose well to begin with, the updating, expansion and general maintenance was far too difficult (at least, for the current writer). As a consequence, the site fell into neglect.
It hadn't been updated since 2013, and with the WTD Facebook page attracting a solid following and serving as a central point for WTD-related news, there hadn't been any particular reason to devote large amounts of (mostly non-existent) free time to working out how best to resolve the issues. The forum had been long dead, content had not been updated to fix broken links and fixing the problems was more work than simply replacing it.
And here it is - the new website for World Tapir Day. Whilst it is still very much a work in progress, it is already a vast improvement over the old one. There's more content, updated content and links, but more importantly, the site fundamentals have been replaced so that it is far easier and quicker to update. And it has a blog.
We'd like to hear your feedback about the new WTD website. We are also keen to have your involvement with it - and with WTD. If you are interested in contributing content - be that articles, photos or art - or would like to write for the blog about tapir-related and environmental-related themes, please do contact us. We'd love to hear from you.
The World Tapir Day blog. Posts about World Tapir Day, tapirs, conservation, the environment and random tapir-related topics.