Tapir conservation

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Tapir conservation the newsletter of the IUCNSSC Tapir Specialist Group
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Tapir conservation (Print)
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Tapir conserv. (Print)
IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group
IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group
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Description based on: Vol. 12, no. 2 (Dec. 2003); title from cover.

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Tapir Specialist Group

- -

,entember 11190

The fie';zsett,r if the UON/SC Ta-ir Sieciaist Grou,.

rosue 11 of the newsletter was produced with. the
C~n'ort 3f 'eirv,'ti' Internmtional, Vashington, 9C.

,umber 1



The Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group.

Editor: Sharon Matola

Assistant Editors: Roderic Mast
Bill Konstant

The views in Tapir Conservation do not necessarily
reflect those of the IUCN nor the entire IUCN/SSC
Tapir Specialist Group (TSG).

Special thanks to Conservation International and
Wildlife Preservation Trust, International for
their assistance.

The objective of Tapir Conservation is to offer the
members of the Tapir Specialist Groun/IUCN/SSC and
others concerned with the family Tairidae, news, brief
papers, opinions, and general information about this
threatened mammalian genus. Anyone wishing to contribute
to Tapir Conservaticn can send material tc:
Sharon Matola, Chairperson
Tapir Specialist Group/TUCN/SSC
P.O. Box 474
Belize City, Belize
Central America

Word from the Editor

Our Purpose as a Snecialist Group

This newsletter represents the first real effort of the
Tapir Specialist GrouD/IUCN/SSC to establish an effective
international network of communication among its members.
Our immediate goal is to strengthen communication within
the TSG and then, unified, work toward achieving the
measures that will promote conservation of the family

This first issue provides several reports from the field
including studies only recently underway, and others just
at the proposal stage. In most cases, funds are still
needed. Following these reports is a list of current
members of the TSG and a bibliography of the Tapiridae
compiled by Kay A. Kenyon, Rick Barongi, and M.L. Matthewson.

Tapirs are among the most primitive large mammals in the
world, annearing during the Miocene Epoch, approximately
fifty million years ago. All four species, Tapirus
indicus, T. bairdii, T. pinchaque, and T. terrestris,live
in tropical regions oT the world that are coming under
increasing threat of habitat destruction. From field
reports, it is clear that all four species suffer increasing
population decreases due to the loss of their habitat.

Preservation of remaining tapir populations within their
respective geographic ranges will depend on the establishment
of large tracts of wild lands as parks and reserves.

And time is not on our side. In the Anril 1990 issue of
Scientific American (Repnetto), an article entitled, "De-
forestation in the Tropics" states that destruction of
tropical forests is a more serious problem than it was
thought to be only a decade ago, judging by recent estimates
based on remote sensing from satellites and on careful field

0 f.000 o. 00 3.000 4.0W 5.000 6.000 7.000
RATES OF DEFORESTATION appear to be increasing. Here in the early 1980's (groy) are compared with more recent
estimates made by the Food and Agriculture Organi7ation timales Icolor) based on satellite imagery and field suntI

As the last decade of the 20th century unfolds before us,
we need to remember that this is the decade where con-
servation action must hap-en. The-Tapir Specialist Group,
hopefully, will be part of the conservation action corps
that will activate strategies to ensure the preservation
of species into the next century.

I need your help. Keep current scientific reprints and
field reports coming to me. I will do my best to see
that this important information is disseminated to all
Group members. We need to begin thinking of developing
an Action Plan. We need recommendations for areas that
are in need of further field studies regarding all four
species of tapir. And we need current data from the
research field.

Thanks for your participation, suggestions, and comments.
I look forward to hearing from TSG members far and wide.


Tavirus bairdii The Central American Tapir.
Report by Ignacio J. March.

From Mexico, ECOSFERA, Center of Studies for Conservation
of Natural Resources, a project has been proposed entitled,
"Preliminary Habitat Evaluation and Status of the Tapir, T.
bairdii, in Southern Mexico". The main objective of this
project is to obtain preliminary information on the current
distribution and status of the species in Mexico. The
former range of T. bairdii included the states of Veracruz,
Oaxaca, Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana
Roo (Leopold,. 1959, Alvarez del Toro, 1977, Hall, 1981).
More recent reports indicate that the species still exists
in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Campeche, and Quintana Roo
(Sanchez et al 1986; March, 1987; Vasquez, 1988).

Optimum habitat for the species in Mexico is considered to
be the high evergreen tropical forest, however, T. bairdii
has been reported in the tropical dry forests of Costa Rica
(Janzen, 1988), the cloud forest of El Triunfo in Chiapas
(Alvarez del Toro, 1977), and in the seasonal tropical
forest of Calakmul, Campeche (Aranda pers. comm. to March

The tropical forests of Mexico are estimated to be under-
going deforestation at the rate of 160,000 hectares per
year (Lanly, 1982). Given this rate, the rainforests in

Mexico could have only 71 more years of existence.

The proposed study, "Preliminary Habitat Evaluation and
Status of the Tapir, T. bairdii, in southern Mexico, would
Provide information that can lead to specific recommendations
focused towards the protection of this endangered species in

Alvarez del Toro, 1977. Los Mamiferos de Chiapas. Univ.
Autonoma de Chianas. Tuxtla Gutierrez. Chianas. 147 pp.

Hall, R.E., 1981. The Mammals of North America. Wiley &
Sons, Vols. 1, 11. 1181 pp.

Janzen, D.H., 1981b. Digestive Seed Predation by a Costa
Rican Baird's Tanir. Reproductive Botany: 59-63.

Lanly., 1982. Tropical Resources Assement Project (GEMS):
Tropical Africa, tropical Asia, tropical America. 4 Vols.
FAO/UNEP, Roma, Italia.

March, K.J., 1987. Los Lacandones de Mexico ysu Relacion
con los mamiferos Silvestres: Un Estudio Etnozoolopico.
INIREB. Mexico. Biotica.. 12(1): 43-45.

Sanchez H.O., Tellez-Giron G., Yedellin R.A. and G. Urbano,
1986. New Records of Mammals from Quintana Roo. Mammalia
50(2): 275-278.
Vasquez, M.A., 1988. La Selva El Ocote: Konografia y plan
de Kanejo para su Conservacion. INIREB, Xalapa, Veracruz.
Mexico, 109 pn.

Tapirus indicus, The Kalayan Tarir.

"The Status and Conservation of the Malayan Tanir, Tamirus
ihdicus, in Sumatra, Indonesia". Charles Santiapillai and
Widodo Sukohadi Ramono, WWF-3769 November 1989, Bogor, Indo-

In South-east Asia, the Malayan tapir occurs discontinuously
from parts of southern Burma, south-western Thailand through
the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra (Williams, 1980).. Throughout
its range, one of the most over-riding threats to its long-
term survival is from a loss of forest habitat through
permanent conversion to agricultural plantations. This is

nowhere more serious than in Sumatra where substantial areas
of species-rich lowland forests are being converted to other
forms of land-use: human settlement and establishment of
agricultural plantations. Much of the present distribution
of the tanir in Sumatra lies outside the areas set aside for
wildlife conservation, such as national parks, nature reserves,
and game reserves. Hunting is not a direct threat to the
tapir in Sumatra as the predominantly Muslim populations
considers it to be closely akin to a pig, and therefore
abhor eating its flesh (Blouch, 1984). Its vulnerability
comes only as a result of the rapid pace of habitat loss in

This study was undertaken in order to determine the
distribution of T. indicus in Sumatra, to assist in the
develo-ro.: of the measures aimed at its effective con-

T. in-lcus is a forest dweller, described as an inhabitant
of only dense primary rainforests (Lekagul & McNeely 1977).
A study in Thailand supported this observation, as T. indicus
was observed to be living in primary forest only an' not with
forest fringes (Williams, 1980).

Yore recent studies show T. indicus inhabits disturbed forests,
as well (Blouch, 1984). In some parts of Sumatra, signs of
tapir been plentiful in the vicinity of rubber plantations
in logged forests. While the original habitat of the Malayan
tanir might well have been dense tropical rainforest, it
appears that the animal is remarkably adaptable, able to
survive even in older logged forests in Sumatra. Tapir
survival in logged forests may defend on their proximity to
undisturbed primary forests, which may act as refuges. In
Sumatra, the Malayan tapir occurs in a wide variety of habitats
that include swamp forests, peat swamp forests, lowland forests,
lower montane and hill forests.

Sumatra is losing forest fast. It is estimated that between
65 and '0 percent of the forests in the species-rich lowlands
of Sumatra have already been lost (Whitten et al, 1984). The
mountain areas to date have been less-seriously affected, but
the disruption of continuous cover is already substantial in
some cases, and perhaps 15 percent of their total area may
tentatively be estimated as already removed from the meager
data available (Santiapillai, 1989).

There is no conservation programme designed specifically to
enhance the long-term survival of the Malayan tapir in
Sumatra. It is hoped that the conservation strategies for
key endangered species such as the Sumatran elephants, rhinos,
and tigers will benefit other mammals including the Malayan
tapir, which live sympatrically with these flag-ship species.

Table 1. Localities in Sumatra from where
the Malayan Tapir has been recorded

Province Locality (status) Area (ha) altitude (m)






1 Gunung Leuser (NP)

2 Dolok Surungan (GR)
3 Padang Lawas (*HR)
4 Sibolga (tGR)

5 Batang Palupuh (NR)
6 Gunung Kerinci (*NP)
7 Kam. Lubuk Niyur (PF)

8 Kerumutan Baru (NR)
9 D.Bawah/P.Besar (NR)
10 Seberida (*NR)
11 Bukit Baling ([NR)
12 Peranap (tHR)
13 Siak Kecil (SGR)
14 Air Sawan (OGR)

15 Berbak (GR)
16 Bukit Tapan (tNP)
17 Batang Merangin Barat
Memjuta Ulu (*GR)
18 Teluk Kayu Putih #
19 Pesisir Bukit #
20 Ladek Panjang @
















21 Isau-Isau Pasemah (GR) 12,114
22 Gunung Raya (GR) 39,500

23 Ipuh #
24 Muko-Muko N
25 Bkt.Gedang Seblat #(GR)48,750
26 Bkt.Kayu Embun # (GR) 106,000
27 Barisan Selatan (NP)+ 356,800

28 Way Kambas a (NP)


Sources: unmarked: MacKinnon & Artha (1982); # Santiapillai
(records); S Siregar (pers.comm.) and + FAO (1981)

Legend: (GR) Game Reserve; (NR) Nature Reserve; (NP) National
Park; (HR) Hunting Reserve; (PF) Protection Forest (* means
proposed area).






Distribution of '

Malayan Tapir

Fig. I Current distribution of the Malayan Tapir
in Sumatra
Solid shading: Positive evidence of presence
obtained. The numbers
correspond to localities listed in Table 1.
Cross hatching: Extent of additional suitable

More surveys are needed to identify other viable T. indicus
populations in Sumatra, and all programs to conserve the
large mammals need the active support of the local people.
Conservation measures that are proposed should not isolate
the local people, but incorporate them and their own welfare.


Blouch, R.A. 1984. Current Status of the Sumatran Rhino
and Other Large Mammals in Southern Sumatra. A WWF Report.
4: Bogor, Indonesia.

Lekagul, B. & McNeely, J.A. 1977. Mammals of Thailand.
Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok.

Santiapillai, C. 1989. The Status and Conservation of the
Clouded Leopard, Neofelis nebulosa diardi, in Sumatra.
Tigerpaaer (FAO, Asia & the Pacific7).,6: 1-7.

Williams, K.D. 1980.. Browse use, feeding behaviour, and
management of the Kalayan tanir. J.Wildl. Manage., 44: 489-

Tagirus pinchaque. The Mountain Tapir.

Craig Downer of the University of Durham in England, is
currently undertaking a two year field study as part of a
PhD dissertation entitled, "Mountain tapir study: Natural
History, Movement Patterns, and Conservation Requirements"
in Sangay National Park, Ecuador, South America.

He has three T. ninchaque radio-collared, and plans to
radio-collar nine more as nart of his study. The tapir
live in cloud forest above 3,000 meters. Radio-telemetry
and, perhaps, ARGOS satellite tracking will be employed to
determine movement patterns of the radio-collared animals.
Information on the geogranhicalnrange of T. pinchaque will
be gathered for all areas within Ecuador and northern Peru
by interviewing biologists and natives familiar with these
regions. In order to identify trends of habitat destruction,
Landsat images will be assessed for Ecuador and northern Peru,
and correlated with information on T. pinchaque habitat

The mountain tapir is vulnerable to extinction, both by
hunting pressure and chiefly, by habitat destruction through
slash and burn agriculture (IUON 1982; Downet '78 '81).
The Red Data Book (IUCN 1982: 444) states that "Adequately
protected reserves are urgently required, as is much information

on population, distribution and ecology as the basis of an
effective conservation plan".

The study proposed by Craig Downer will identify critical
areas needing special protection throughout Ecuador and
northern Peru. This information, as well as information
obtained on habitat preference, diet, migrations, behaviour,
and population dynamics in the main study site, will hopefully
prove relevant for other South American countries, namely
Venezuela and Columbia, in helping to implement a survival
program for this endangered species.

Mountain tapirs are reported to live at elevations of
between 1980 and 4350 meters (Morrison, 1972). Their
tracks have been found in glaciers at over 4000 meters
(IUCN 1982). This species is smaller, thicker-skinned,
and thicker-furred than the other three species of tanir.
But it does retain the water-loving character of the other
members of the Tapiridae family, and reportedly, is never
found far from water..

Life in the highlands of Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and
Peru reflects a conservative evolutionary past. Mountain
tapirs most closely resemble tapir ancestors which arrived
from temperate North America during the Tertiary Period,
50 million years ago (Hershkovitz, 1954).

In certain regions of Peru, Ecuador and in Colombia, the
mountain tapir is reported to migrate annually. According
to Colombian natives interviewed by Craig Downer, the
populations moves to high, open paramo during the wet half
of the year, from October to May, and returns to the unner
fringe of cloud forests during the drier half of the year,
June to September. Similar information has been obtained from
natives in Ecuador regarding migration activity.

Very little information exists about the mountain tapir,
either in captivity or in the wild. Craig Downer's field
research will provide invaluable information for the
development of a Tapir Action Plan.


Downer, Craig C. 1978, Anril. "Informe sobre la visit al
Parque Nacional Natural de Las Hermosas." Corporacion
Autonoma del Valle de Cauca, Div. Recur. Nat., Cali, Colom.

Hershkovitz, Philip. 1954. Mammals of northern Columbia a
preliminary report. No. 7: Tapirs (genus Tapirus), with a
systematic review of American species. Proc. U.S. Nat.

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Hist. Mus. (Smithsonian Inst.) 103 (3329): 465-496.
IUCN.. 1982. The IUCN mammal Red Data Book. Pt. 1. Compiled
by Jane Thornback and Martin Jenkins. Pp. 443-445. "Mountain,
Woolly, or Andean Tapir".

Morrison, Tony. 1972. Land above the clouds: wildlife
of the Andes. Universe Books, N.Y. Pp. 59-63, 203.

Tamirus terrestris. The South American Lowland Tapir.

Silvia Chalukian is studying wildlife management in Herredia,
Costa Rica, and is interested in conducting a long-term field
project involving T. terrestris in northwest Argentina. Anyone
interested in her proposed work may contact her through the
address listed on the TSG Members list.

Richard E. Bodmer, PhD, has been studying the ecology of the
lowland tapir in the Peruvian Amazon since 1984, and has also
worked on wildlife management of other ungulates, including
T. terrestris.. He is concerned about the survival of tapirs
Tn Amazonia because they are hunted heavily. His fieldwork
shows that they are very susceptible to hunting due to their
low recruitment rate (397 day gestation),. long interbirth
interval, and their extended development. The following
abstract is from a paper by Richard E. Bodmer entitled,
"Ungulate Management and Conservation in the Peruvian Amazon".

Subsistence and commercial hunting is of greater importance
than sport hunting to ungulate management in the Peruvian
Amazon. Ungulates hunted include the red brocket deer,.
Mazama americana, grey brocket deer, I.. gouazoubira,
collared peccary, Tayassu tajacu white-lipped peccary, T.
pecari, and the lowland tapir, Tapirus terrestris. Analysis
of the ungulate pelt trade indicated that the management
programmes put forth by the Ministry of Agriculture in Peru
have successfully regulated ungulate harvest by controlling
professional pelt and commercial meat hunters. Information
collected from a local community of hunters revealed that
lumbermen were harvesting significantly more ungulates than
subsistence hunters. Lumber operations supply workers with
shotguns and cartridges instead of basic foods; they decrease
operational costs by encouraging them to hunt game meat.
Lumbermen should therefore be considered as commercial hunters
and be regulated by management programmes. Illegal meat hunters
occasionally visited the study area and were quite destructive
to game species when present.

The establishment of parks and reserves, although vital to
the future survival of members of the family Tapiridae, is

not a sufficient survival strategy.
Podocarpus National Park, home to T. pinchaque in Ecuador
is currently being threatened by 2,000 gold seekers..
Sangay National Park, where Craig Downer's study site for
T. pinchaque is located, is being encroached upon steadily
Sy cattle.

Aggressive wildlife education targeted to communities that
are located nearby parks and reserves is essential for the
successful management of species. Belize, Central America,
has experienced a steady increase in wildlife awareness
focused on T. bairdii due to the education program sponsored
by The Belize Zoo. An invaluable tool has been the country-
wide distribution of posters which depict an adult T. bairdii
and her young (same as TSG logo). Financial assistance
from Miami MetroZoo, Wildlife Preservation Trust, Int'l, and
the US Fish and Wildlife Service has made the production, as
well as the reprinting of these posters possible. Perhaps
similar projects should be considered for areas where people
are living in close proximity to protected areas that are
providing sanctuaries for tapir.

The Taoir Specialist Group Network

1, Mr. Rick Barongi
Curator of Mammals
Zoological Society of San Diego
P.O. Box 551
San Diego, CA 92112

2. Richard E. Bodmer, PhD
Dept. Zoologia
Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi
Caixa Postal 399

3. Mr. Milton Cabrera
Universidad Nacional/EDECA
Program Maestria en Manajo de Vida Silvestre

4. Mr. Alfredo D. Guaron
Curator of Mammals
Institute de Historia Natural
Apdo. Postal no. 6
Tuxtla Gutierrez
Chiapas 29000

5. Ms. Silvia C. Chalukian
Program Regional Manejo de Vida Silvestre
Apartado 3000

6. Mr. Michael Dee
Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027

7. Mr. Craig Downer
P.O. Box 456
Minden, NV 89423

8. Mr. Joe Fragoso
Dept. of Natural Sciences
New Coggege/USF
5700 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 35570-

9. Mr. Bill Konstant, Exec. Director
Wildlife Preservation Trust, Int'l
34th St. and Girard Ave.
Phila. PA 19104

10. Mr. Karl Krantz
Curator of Mammals
Philadelphia Zoological Gardens
34th St. and Girard Ave.
Phila. PA 19104

11. Mr. Sukianto Lusli
Jamblang raya 1-17
Jakarta 11270

12. Ms. Sharon Matola, Director
The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center
P.O. Box 474
Belize City, Belize

13. Dr. Oliver A. Ryder
Zoological Society of San Diego
P.O. Box 551
San Diego, CA 92112

14. Mr. Phairot Suvanakorn
Deputy Director General
Royal Forest Dent.
Bhaholyothin Road
Bangkok 10900

15. Dr. Charles Santiapillai
WWF-Indonesia Programme
P.O. Box 133 Bogor
Java Barat 16001

16. Mr. Alan Shoemaker
Riverbanks Zoo
P.O. Box 1060
Columbia, S.C. 29202-1060

17. Dr. Nico J. van Strien
P.O. Box 537

18. Dr. Choompol Ngampongsai
Dept. of Conservation
Faculty of Forestry
Kasetsart University
Bangkok 10900

19. Mr. Chris Vaughan, Director
Wildlife Graduate Program
Universidad Nacional
Campus Omar Dengo
Heredia 1350

20. Dr. Chris Wemmer
National Zoological Park
Conservation & Research Center
Front Royal, VA 22630

21. Mr. Bill Zeigler
General Curator
Miami MetroZoo
12400 S.W. 152nd St.
Miami, PL 33177

Please send written contributions for the next TSG
newsletter by mid-November 1990 to:

Sharon Matola, Chairperson
Tapir Specialist Group
P.O. Box 474
Belize City, Belize

Bibliography of the Tapiridae

Tapirus indicus (Desmarest, 1819)
Tapirus terrestris (Linne, 1766) l-W ,
Tapirus bairdii (Gill, 1865)
Tapirus pinchaque (Roulin, 1829)

By: Kay A. Kenyon*, R. A. Barongi** and M. L. Matthewson**
Date: January 1990

All references are listed under one of the following headings:

Anatomy, Taxonomy
Natural History, Wild
Captive Husbandry, Exhibit Design
Reproduction and Breeding

*Chief Librarian, National Zoological Park Branch,
Institution Librarians

**Curators Office, Zoological Society of San Diego,
San Diego, CA 92112


P.O. Box 551,

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