Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wild at Heart II: The Malayan Tapir

This weekend marked the opening of Wild at Heart II, the third edition of the endangered species benefit shows co-curated by myself and Thinkspace's Andrew Hosner. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Though the exhibition has closed, you can still check out all the work online.

Sean Chao "Gentle Swimmers"

 The Malayan Tapir is the largest member of the tapir species, and the only one native to the Eastern Hemisphere. Though tapirs resemble pigs, they are more closely related to horses and rhinoceroses. Their distinctive black-and-white coloring acts as camouflage, breaking up the shape of their body so that predators don’t recognize them as animals in the dappled light of the forest. Baby tapirs have striped and spotted coats that provide even more misdirection to predators. Shy, solitary creatures, tapirs live in dense undergrowth near water, and are excellent swimmers. Like the rhinoceros, they can dive and walk along the bottom of the riverbed, where they graze on aquatic plants. They use their short prehensile trunks to feel for tender shoots and strip young leaves from branches.

Although the Malayan tapir once ranged throughout the tropical lowland forests of Southeast Asia, they can now only be found in small numbers in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra. Their numbers have declined rapidly in recent years due to deforestation and the damming of rivers for hydroelectric power. In many areas, they are also hunted for food and sport, as well as for their thick skin, which is used to make high-quality leather for bridles and whips.

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