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The World's Tapirs--The Lowland Tapir (Tapirus terrestris)


Lowland Tapir Habitat Range
map of lowland tapir range
Map by Carlos Pedraza, TSG, 2008 (click to see larger)

Range: Rainforest and wetlands of South America

Characteristics: Up to 6 feet long (1.8 meters) and 550 pounds (225 kg)

Status: Vulnerable

The Lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) occurs through a wide geographic range from North-Central Colombia and east of the Andes throughout most of tropical South America. It occurs mostly in tropical lowland rainforest but can also be found in seaonally dry habitats such as the Chaco of Bolivia and Paraguay.

Conservation Threats: The major threats to the species are habitat loss due to deforestation, hunting for meat and competition with domestic livestock.

Population Estimate (2008): There is not enough research information available to estimate population. We do know that due to habitat loss population numbers are in decline, though numerous strongholds exist. The lowland tapir, although generally rare and elusive, can be locally common, such as around water sources.

Characteristics: The Lowland tapir is distinct in appearance from other tapirs due to its large stiff mane or crest from shoulder to forehead. It is the size of a small pony and when running, resembles the galloping of a horse. They possess large teeth, perfect for grinding up plants and seeds, and a prehensile proboscis or snout, which they use to reach for leaves and fruits.

Behavior: The Lowland tapir is primarily solitary and shy, grazeing and foraging at night, and resting or hiding during the day. It eats fruits and plants and other vegetation and is a strong swimmer, known to cross rivers and take to the water to escape predators.

Other names:Tapir, danta (Spanish), anta (Brazil), maypouri (Quichua), danta de tierras bajas o amazónica (Spanish), sachavaca, huagra (Perú); anta (Brasil); gran bestia (Colombia, Ecuador).

More About Lowland Tapirs
IUCN Red List Report on Lowland Tapir
Tapir Virtual Library

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. EEUU. 281p

Illustration generously provided by Stephen Nash, Conservation International

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