Since Sumatran tigers and orangutans have proven to be subspecies of their mainland and Borneo cousins, there is a fair chance this may be the case of tapirs as well. Therefore, establishing firm knowledge about the species relationship between, in particular, Sumatran and mainland individuals is important.
An earlier demonstrates that the tapir phylogeny is poorly resolved using cytochrome c oxidase subunit II gene (COII). The COII data suggest that three distinct tapir mitochondrial lineages exist, a South American (represented by T. terrestris and T. pinchaque), a Central American (represented by T. bairdii) and Asian (represented by T. indicus). This study aims at characterizing tapir DNA using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA to clarify phylogenetic relationship and population structure of the Malay tapir in Peninsular Malaysia.
In 2006 the DWNP acquired in-house facilities to carry out most of the DNA work and the MTCP collaborates with research officer, Mr. Jeffrine Rovie Ryan, and supports this study with a grant of RM 15.000. The study was initiated in November, 2006.
The MTCP intends to promote a similar study in Indonesia for Sumatran tapirs.