Tapirus Indicus otherwise known as the tapir, is a unique animal recognised by its distinctive black and white two-toned saddle-shaped marking on its body. The species found largely in Peninsular Malaysia is the Malayan tapir. Back in 2013, there were some 1,100 to 1,500 of these animals of which the numbers have declined to about 600 or 700 today, due to displacement over the loss of its habitat. Commercial development is one of the main causes while road accidents is another. According to reports, about 100 tapir have died in road accidents, this year alone, two. The tapir is a nocturnal creature that roams about at night. Its “shade” is not easily visible in the dark. If action is not taken to preserve this beautiful species, the docile tapir will soon be extinct, like the Sumatran rhino. ‘We Hug Tapir’ campaign Realising this, Watsons Malaysia decided to raise awareness about the endangered species and ran a nationwide “We Hug Tapir” campaign in collaboration with Pocotee & Friends and the Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia (Ecomy). The campaign saw RM1 going towards the “fund”, from every product sold under the “Naturals by Watsons” range. A cheque presentation was held at “A day with nature and Tapirs” event on April 26, at the River Dusun Wildlife Reserve in Selangor. The event was held in conjunction with World Tapir Day celebrated on April 27. Besides collecting money, the campaign also aimed to educate the public, especially the young, on the importance of conserving Malaysia’s heritage, forest and wildlife, as well as understanding the importance in doing so. Hence, funds collected will go towards an environmental education programme specially designed for school children. “It is very important to conserve nature. At Watsons, we believe in playing a key role in making a positive impact in the conservation of wildlife and the environment,” said Watsons’s customer director Danny Hoh. Hoh also stated that people should know how important the tapir is as part of the ecosystem – “just as seed disperses, and it is one of the oldest surviving wildlife forms in the animal kingdom,” he said. Up close with the tapir Presentation of the cheque was made at an event called “A Day with Nature and Tapirs” on April 26 at the River Dusun Wildlife Reserve in Selangor. Receiving the cheque was Ecomy co-founder and CEO Andrew Sebastian who shared that rehabilitating the tapir requires complex work. Media guests then had the chance to see a female tapir and her three-month-old baby, plus another adult tapir up close. Together with Hoh and Sebastian, the entourage embarked on a Jackfruit tree planting endeavour nearby - the fruit a food source for the tapir. “Our tapir makes up the largest species (Malayan tapir) in the world and it is even more special as it is very localised in its range and today it is endangered because of us,” said Sebastian. Watsons “Naturals” range of products resonates with the advocacy of using natural and organic ingredients and promoting environmental consciousness. This is the second consecutive year that Watsons has organised an awareness campaign on the tapir. Visit Watsons Malaysia website for more information.