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An overview of predictive tools for effective captive breeding programmes for the endangered Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus)



Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) is the only species under Tapiridae, distributed in the tropical rain forest of Southeast Asia. It is listed as endangered species by International Union for Conservation of Nature due to population decline, caused by habitat loss and fragmentation, road kill and illegal hunting. These major threats, coupled with a low reproductive rate, solitary nature and large individual home range make tapirs very
susceptible to extinction. In light of this, various conservation strategies have been devised to protect, manage and supplement the declining populations of Malayan tapir. Ex situ
captive breeding program is one of the conservation techniques advocated by the IUCN, and perhaps the most important tool to establish genetically healthy and self-sustainable
populations to be reintroduced into the wild. The success of ex situ conservation is however, dependent on consistent reproduction among captive animals and the survival of their
offspring. Limited number of fertile males and females in captivity, rejection by females to copulate (potentially as a result of mate incompatibility or timing of breeding introduction),
physiological stress (caused by presence of visitors or restricted enclosure space) and low genetic diversity of the captive individuals may jeopardise the ex-situ conservation effort.
Currently, Malayan tapirs are bred captive in a number of zoos around the world. At present, the candidate breeders and their mate partners are typically selected on the basis of health
parameters and sexual receptivity. Incorporating other predictive tools including genetic,
behaviour and physiology during breeding selection, may increase their reproductive
success and, ultimately captive programme effectiveness of the endangered Malayan tapir.


Malayan tapir, ex situ captive breeding, genetic, physiology, behavioural

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