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The World's Tapirs--The Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii)


Baird's Tapir Habitat Range
map of Baird's tapir range
Maps by Carlos Pedraza, TSG, 2008 (Click to see larger version)

Range: Distributed from Oaxaca Province in Mexico through Central America to the western side of the Andean mountain range in Colombia (the Darien). It occurs in rainforests, lower montane forests, deciduous forests, flooded grasslands and marsh areas.

Characteristics: Up to 1.5 meters long (5 feet) and 250 kg (550 pounds).

Status: Endangered

Conservation threats: The major threats to the species are habitat destruction and fragmentation and hunting throughout its range.

Population Estimate (2006): Estimates suggest that there are less than 5,500 Baird’s tapir remaining in the wild, with populations in Mexico under 1,500, Guatemala under 1,000, Honduras under 500, Nicaragua under 500, Republic of Panama under 1,000, Costa Rica under 1000, and Colombia approximately 250. Populations of Baird's tapir are in a continuing decline.

Mating: Primarily solitary, the species forms occasional associations with others and for breeding.

Sounds: Communication is by a range of whistles of different pitch and duration.

Activity: Primarily becomes active at dusk and throughout the night, retiring to shelter of thick vegetation in the early morning. However, it is occasionally seen throughout the day seeking water in which to rest and cool down. The species frequently defecates in water as well as on land and at "dump sites." These sites and the spraying of urine onto vegetation and trees are thought to be associated with home range marking. There is no evidence of exclusive territoriality. Males appear to have small home ranges (about 1 sq km) and females range much more widely.

Feeding habits: The species eats the twigs and growing tips of a wide range of understorey vegetation, including snapping small saplings with its mouth to get to tall plants. It also takes a large quantity of fruits and leaves from the forest floor and aquatic vegetation when and where available.

Other: The species is vulnerable to predation by jaguars and pumas. It has thick and tough skin, particularly on its hindquarters. Occasional deaths have been recorded through collisions with automobiles (particularly in Belize).

Other names:
Tapir, danta (Spanish), mountain cow (Belize), macho del monte (Colombia & Costa Rica).

More About Baird's Tapirs
IUCN Red List Report on Baird's Tapir
Tapir Virtual Library
EDGE Baird's Tapir Profile

BROOKS, D.; BODMER, R.E.; MATOLA, S (compilers). 1997. Tapirs - Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. (English, Spanish, Portuguese.) IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge,UK.viii+164pp. Dirección en la Red. http://www.tapirback.com/tapirgal/iucn-ssc/tsg/action97/cover.htm

EMMONS, L. 1990. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals. The University of Chicago Press. USA. 281p

FOERSTER, C. 1998. Uso de hábitat, ámbito de hogar y actividad de la danta centroamericana en un bosque tropical húmedo de C.R. Tesis de Posgrado, Programa Regional de Manejo de Vida Silvestre para Mesoamerica y el Caribe.

FOERSTER, C. 1998. Comportamiento de forrajeo y dieta de una danta centroamericana en un bosque tropical húmedo de C.R. Tesis de Posgrado, Programa Regional de Manejo de Vida Silvestre para Mesoamerica y el Caribe.

FRAGOSO, J. 1983. The ecology and behavior of Baird’s tapir in Belize. Documento del centro de Documentación de la universidad de Heredia, Costa Rica.

FRAGOSO, J. 1987. The habitat preferences and social structure of tapirs. Masters Thesis, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

GAMERO, I. 1978. Mamíferos de mi tierra. López y Cia, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

GARCÍA, M. 2006. Caracterización de la dieta y el hábitat del tapir (Tapirus bairdii Gill, 1865) en ecosistemas ribereños del Parque Nacional Laguna Lachuá, Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Tesis para optar al título de Licenciado en Biología Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.

IUCN 2006. Red List IUCN. www.uicnredlist.org

JANZEN, D. 1981. Artículo Digestive seed predation by a Costa Rican Baird’s Tapir. Reproductive Botany Journal, 59-63.

LIRA T. I., NARANJO P., E. y REYES Ch., 2005. Ampliación del área de distribución de Tapirus bairdii, Gill 1865 (Perissodactyla: Tapiridae) en Oaxaca, México. Acta Zoológica Mexicana (n.s.) 21(1): 107-110

MARCH, I. 1994. Situación actual del tapir en México. Serie Monográfica No.1. Centro de Investigaciones Ecológicas del Sureste. Chiapas, México.

NARANJO, E. 1994. Abundancia y uso de hábitat del Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) en un bosque tropical húmedo de C.R. Programa Regional en Manejo de Vida Silvestre.

2006. Third International Tapir Symposium. Conference Report. Electronic version available at www.tapirs.org

REID, F. 1997. A field Guide to the Mammals of central America and southeast México. Oxford University Press. USA. 334p.

SCHLESINGER, V. 1999. Animals and plants of the ancient maya. University of Texas Press. USA. (pg 151-153).

TOBLER, M.W. 2002. Uso del hábitat y dieta de la danta centroamericana (Tapirus bairdii) en un bosque nuboso montano de la Cordillera de Talamanca, Costa Rica. Biotropica. v. 34, no. 3. p. 468-474.

WILLIAMS, K. 1984. The Central American Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) in northwest C.R. Ph.D Thesis, Michigan State University, Department of fisheries and wildlife.

Written with the help of Keith Williams, TSG, and Manolo Garcia, TSG.

Illustration generously provided by Stephen Nash, Conservation International

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