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The World's Tapirs--The MountainTapir (Tapirus pinchaque)


The Mountain tapir is the largest mammal in the tropical Andes

Mountain Tapir Habitat Range
mountain tapir range map
Map by Carlos Pedraza, TSG, 2008 (click to see larger)

Range: Montane forests and Paramos in Colombia, Ecuador and northern Peru, between 2000 to 4000 meters elevation.

Characteristics: The Mountain tapir is the smallest of tapir species. Their color is brownish to black with long hair and a white line around the lips. The adults have two characteristic hair-free patches in the rump. They measure 1.8 meters long, 0.8 meters high, and weigh between 150 and 250 Kilos. The Mountain tapir is the smallest and most furry of the tapirs. As with all tapir species, their young have a dappled, camouflage coat.

Status: Endangered

Conservation Threats: The primary threats to the mountain tapir are warfare and habitat loss due to poppy farming and growth of ranching and agriculture, driven by human population growth in the Andean region. Hunting is no longer a major threat due to local regulations and increased awareness of this species’ rarity and conservation status.

Population Estimate (2008): Exact numbers are not known as more research is needed, but estimated population is more than 2,500 individuals. Numbers are decreasing.

Behavior: The mountain tapir feeds on leaves, twigs and fruits of a large number of plant species in Andean forests and paramos. The most preferred are plants of the genus Lupinus, leaves of Gynoxys, Gunnera sp, Oreopanax, and Chusquea sp. The tapirs are important seed dispersers and a key component for the maintenance of the structure and composition of montane forests in South America

They are solitary and their activity is mainly between the first hours of dusk and first hours in sunrise. They are more active in low temperatures than on warm days. Like other tapir species the mountain tapir is comfortable in water and can swim. They also have a very developed sense of smell and hearing. They are strong and very well adapted to locomotion in forested hills and to the harsh weather conditions of the high Andes.

Other names: Tapir de montaña, danta conga, danta de páramo, danta lanuda.

More About Mountain Tapirs
IUCN Red List Report on Mountain Tapir
Red Danta
EDGE Mountain Tapir Profile
San Francisco Zoo tapir video

Lizcano, D. J., A. Guarnizo, J. A. Suarez, F. K. Florez, and O. Montenegro. 2006. Danta de paramo Tapirus pinchaque. in J. V. Rodriguez-Maecha, M. Alberico, F. Trujillo, and J. Jorgenson, editors. Libro rojo de los mamíferos de Colombia. Serie libros rojos de especies amenazadas de Colombia.
Conservación Internacional, Colombia & Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial, Bogota, Colombia.

Morales-Jiménez A.L., Sánchez F., K Poveda & A. Cadena. 2004. Mamíferos terrestres y voladores de Colombia. Guía de Campo. Bogotá, Colombia. 248 p.

Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial, Viceministerio de Ambiente, Dirección de Ecosistemas. 2005. Programa Nacional para la Conservación del Género Tapirus en Colombia.

Written with help from Diego Lizcano, TSG, and Juliana Rodriguez, TSG

Illustration generously provided by Stephen Nash, Conservation International

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