It is learned that the driver escaped unhurt but the vehicle was severely damaged. Pic by STR/ MOHD RAFI MAMAT

KUANTAN: Three days after an elephant died when it was hit by a tour bus in Perak, a pair of tapir suffered similar fate along the Gebeng bypass road near here on Friday.

The endangered Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) were attempting to cross the dual-carriageway not far from the Jabor toll plaza about 10.30pm when a car crashed into the animals.

The driver escaped unhurt but the impact of the crash resulted the front part of the vehicle to be severely dented.

Passing motorists informed the State Wildlife and National Parks department(Perhilitan) about the carcasses about 11.30pm before staff were deployed to the scene.

The tapirs, a male and a female aged between eight and 10 years, suffered severe injuries.

State Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said the two tapir weighing between 250kg and 280kg were crossing the road to look for food when the incident occurred.

He said to date, a total of five deaths caused by collision with vehicles were recorded in Pahang in the first eight months of this year.

"There has been similar incidents in the past including along the nearby Kuantan Port bypass road where the animals usually occupies the jungle and go out during the night to look for food," he said, adding Perhilitan will put up more signboards for tapir crossings to remind motorist to be careful when they drive along certain roads.

Meanwhile, a Perhilitan staff described the incident as devastating as two tapir were killed simultaneously and such cases were rare.

"Land clearing activities has ruined their habitat and the increasing number of activities near Gebeng here has forced the animals to travel further to find for food. A quick solution has to be implemented or else similar tragic road deaths could become more frequent.

"In the past there were cases when the tapir dies in an accident, certain body parts including its tail, ears and tongue were removed by irresponsible individuals. In this case, the passing motorist were quick to alert Perhilitan," he said.

It is estimated that only between 1,100 and 1,500 tapirs remain in the wild in Peninsular Malaysia, and concentrated in protected areas, such as Taman Negara and wildlife reserves. They are classified as a totally protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

On Wednesday, a 10-year-old bull elephant was killed after it was hit by a tour bus along the Grik-Jeli Highway in Perak at about 5.30am. The animal collapsed and then got up and walked to the grass on the road shoulder before it died.

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