A new report conducted by Wildlife Conservation Society scientists published in the journal Integrative Zoology documents the results of a 12 year study of lowland tapir populations in five connected national parks in northwest Bolivia and southeastern Peru. The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert website on Jan. 23, 2013.
The researchers found at least 14,500 lowland tapirs in the region using camera traps, along with interviews with park guards and subsistence hunters.
The lowland tapir is the largest terrestrial mammal in South America, weighing up to 300 kg (661 pounds). The tapir’s unusual prehensile proboscis or snout is used to reach leaves and fruit. Tapirs are found throughout tropical forests and grasslands in South America. Tapirs are threatened by habitat loss and especially unsustainable hunting due to their large size, low reproductive rate (1 birth every 2-3 years), and ease of detection at mineral licks in the rain forest. Lowland tapirs are considered Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The abundance of tapirs in Madidi, Pilón Lajas and Apolobamba National Parks in Bolivia, and Bahuaja Sonene and Tambopata National Parks in Peru is the result of government and local people's commitment to preserving the charismatic tapir in its native habitat.