Tapir conservation

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Tapir conservation the newsletter of the IUCNSSC Tapir Specialist Group
Uniform Title:
Tapir conservation (Print)
Abbreviated Title:
Tapir conserv. (Print)
IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group
IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group
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Houston TX
IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group
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v. : ill. ; 28 cm.


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Also issued online.
Dates or Sequential Designation:
Began in 1990.
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Description based on: Vol. 12, no. 2 (Dec. 2003); title from cover.

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University of Florida
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- A


:lumber 3

Tapir Specialist Group




Issue b3 of the newsletter was produced with the support
of Conservaiton International, Washington, DC.




Issue #3 of the newsletter was produced with the support
of Conservation International, Washington, DC.

Number 3


The Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group.

Editor: Sharon Matola

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 for their

The objective of Tapir Conservaiton is to offer the
members of the Tapir Specialist Group/IUCN/SSC and others
concerned with the family Tapiridae, news brief papers,
opinions, and general information about this threatened
mammalian genus. Anyone wishing to contribute to Tapir
Conservation please send material to:

Sharon Matola, Chairperson
Tapir Specialist Group/IUCN/SSC
P.O. Box 1787
Belize City, Belize
Central America

Word From the Editor


Thank you to all TSG members who have sent letters and articles
since our last newsletter publication.

We are still lacking a good deal of information in order to
produce an Action Plan. If you are reading this and have
access to any information pertinent to the production of an
Action Plan for tapirs, please send it to me at your earliest

IUCN has specifically been in communication with me about the
Action Plan, and it should be the goal of our Specialist Group
to have this document finished in the very near future.



While it was hoped that 1.0 T. bairdii could be sent to The Belize
Zoo for breeding purposes, officials in Panama, after over a year
of negotiations about this possible transfer, refused to have the
animal leave Panama on breeding loan.

Rick Barongi will be coordinating with the Summit Zoo in the
Panama Canal Zone and with the estate of Escondido in western
Panama in hopes of further encouraging these two facilities to
exchange and collaborate for captive breeding purposes.


The Belize government has recently declared a 265,000 acre National
Park in the Maya Mountains, the Chiquebul National Park, and this
now-protected area provides abundant habitat for the Central
American tapir, T. bairdii.

The 1993 Expedition to the Upper Raspaculo, a pristine environment
that is particularly productive for ungulates, due to the dynamic
state of the flooded riverine forest, will occur once again between
the months of May and June 1993. The Upper Raspaculo river has
been the controversial subject of a possible hydroelectric project.
Data collected on this expedition, funding provided by the Royal
Geographic Society, will pay particular attention to the species

diversity found in this remote area of Belize.

Tapir Specialist Group chairperson Sharon Matola will be one of
the field investigators on the six week long expedition.


Update: Mountain tapir, Tapirus pinchaque.

Reports by Wildlife Conservation International Research Fellow
Craig Downer are not good for T. pinchaque in Sangay National

Even though UNESCO has declared this area a World Heritage
Site, encroachment into the park is steady.

During the past two and one half years, Craig Downer has witnessed
the killings of 30 mountain tapirs, including two which he had
radio-collared. All killings occurred within UNESCO'S World
Heritage Sangay National Park.

Another prominent problem is the intensifying of livestock grazing
within the park, and apparently no action from the Ecuadorian
government to halt this activity has occurred.

Another aspect of T. pinchaque hunting is almost to grim to
believe, but Downer reports that certain Expeditions, led by licensed
Ecuadorean guides, actually hunt the mountain tapir so that their
tourists can sample mt. tapir meat.

Downer states that the most alarming threat to the mountain tapirs
and their habitat is the pledge by leaders of a seventeen community,
indigenous coalition inhabiting the western border region of Sangay
National Park.

Using the slogan "where man has once set foot he will never retreat!",
these locals, in defiance of government authorities, are adamantly
intent upon during fragile forests and paramo for the occupation
by livestock, even up to the erodible, ashy-soiled base of Sangay

Downer estimates that only a few thousand mountain tapirs remain
within their geographic range high in the Andes, mainly in Columbia
and Ecuador, and a small remnant population in northernmost Peru.

Besides the very possible extinction of T. pinchaque from its
now restricted range, the human populations in this region of
Ecuador stand to lose a great deal as their watersheds
inevitably dry up due to overpopulation by settlers and over-
grazing by cattle.

Craig Downer adamantly maintains that a program for the rescue
of the natural high Andes, using the mountain tapir as a "flag-
ship species" is imperative.


Meanwhile, 1992 has seen the beginning of field research on mountain
tapirs by Hernando Acosta and Sebastian Londono of Los Andes
University in Columbia.


Joann M. Andrews, President of PRONATURA, reports that her organ-
ization is engaged in several projects in the region of the Calakmul
Biosphere Reserve. These projects include basic studies of the
flora and fauna as well as starting programs in the villages in
and around the Reserve, trying to promote economic alternatives
compatible with the conservation of the natural resources, as
well as a program in environmental education.

Two field projects, as reported by JoAnn Andrews, have indicated
that T. bairdii is hunted in significant numbers by subsistence
hunters. Their conclusions suggest that T. bairdii is in danger
of extinction in this region due to overhunting.

PRONATURA is developing an aggressive program aimed at saving the
tapir from extinction in that area of Campeche.

From PRONATURA: Where the Cential

American tapir is found in

2. The Situation of T. bairdii in Mexico as reported by:

Ignacio J. March
de los
Chiapas, Mexico

de Studios para la Conservacion
Recursos Naturales, A.C.

The southern part of Mexico is the extreme northernmost range for

T. bairdii. This includes the states of Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas,
Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo. This constitutes
approximately 25 percent of the total range of T. bairdii.

Colonization and development are the greatest threats to T. bairdii
in Mexico.

Currently, more than 50 percent of T. bairdii range in Mexico
has been eliminated or transformed into unsuitable habitat. It
could be possible that at this time, T. bairdii is gone from
the states of Veracruz, Yucatan and possibly Tabasco.

At this time, "official" protected areas or reserves total
1,702,082 hectares.

Conservation of T. bairdii in the remaining parts of its range
depend upon the following:

- development of studies specific to current distribution
of T. bairdii in Mexico.

implementation of a massive education campaign.

place wardens in protected areas where the presence of tapirs
have been verified.

control of sport and subsistence hunting in areas where T.
bairdii is present.

begin programs in various zoos in Mexico for captive breeding
T. bairdii.

Relevant Literature

Burnett, F. L. and C.P. Lyman, 1957. Biological investigations in
the Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, Mexico: Mammals collected at Laguana
Ocotal. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 116:290-298.

Bush, P., 1959. Mexico and Africa from the sight of my rifle.
Grafica Panamericana. Mexico.

Goodwin, G.G. 1969. Mammals from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, in
the American Museum of Natural History. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist.
141(1): 270 pp.

Hall, E.R. and W.W. Dalquest, 1963. The mammals of Veracruz.
Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist., 14: 165-363.

Navarro, D., 1990. La conservation de los mamiferos en Sian Ka'an.
Boletin Amigos de Sian Ka'an. 6:5-7.

Fig. 2.- Areas con prescncia verifi
en 1M6xico.

A Los Chimalapas, Oaxaca.
B La Sepultura, Chiapas.
C Reserva El Triunfo, Chiapas.
D Reserva Montes Azules, Chiapas.
E Reserva Calakmul, Campeche.


ia y potential del tapir

F Reserva Sian Ka'an,
Quintana Roo.
G Reserva El Ocote,
H Humedales de Centla,
I Zona Norte de
Quintana Roo.

Cuadro 1.- Principales areas del sureste de M6xico con presencia
verificada o potential de tapir (Tapirus bairdii).


Regi6n Los Chimalapas, > 300,000 Propuesta de VERIFICADA
Oaxaca. Reserva

Reserva Ecol6gica 48,800 Establecida POTENCIAL NO
El Ocote, Chiapas. (20-Octubre-1982) VERIFICADA

Reserva de la Bi6sfera 331,200 Establecida VERIFICADA
Monies Azules, Chiapas (12-Enero-1978)

?eserva Ecol6gica 73,800 Propuesta VERIFICADA
La Sepultura, Chiapas

Reserve Nacional 60,450 Establecida POTENCIAL NO
Forestal La (03-Enero-1978) VERIFICADA
Frariescana, Chiapas

Reserva de la Bi6sfera 119,550 Establecida VERIFICADA
El Triunfo, Chiapas (16-Marzo-1990)

M&rgenes del Rio POTENTIAL NO
Usumacinta, Chiapas. VERIFICADA

Reserva de la Bi6sfera 723,185 Establecida VERIFICADA
Calakmul, Campeche. (23-Mayo-1989)

Zona Los Petenes, 130,000 Propuesta de POTENCIAL NO
Campeche. Reserva VERIFICADA

Area oeste del sector POTENCIAL NO
Sur de Calakmul, Camp. VERIFICADA

Reserva de la Bi6sfera 528,147 Establecida VERIFICADA
Sian Kaan, Quintana Roo (20-Enero-1986)

Area de la Laguna de POTENCIAL NO
Bacalar, Quintana Roo VERIFICADA

Zona Norte de Propuesta como POTENCIAL
Quintana Roo. Reserva NO VERIFICADA

Zona Sur de
Quintana Roo.


F. Tapirus indicus, Malayan tapir.

Ed Ramsay, DVM and TSG member has reported on T. indicus in
Indonesia (Central Sumatra).

At this time, no field studies involving T. indicus occur. It is
known that T. indicus prefers low browse, but exact vegetation
preferences are unknown.

Also, according to Dr. Ramsay, the movements, as well as time of
calving of T. indicus are also unknown.

In Central Sumatra, the Malayan tapir is not valued by local
people. Sometimes tapir nail or skin is marketed as rhino, but
this is uncommon. The Indonesian word for rhino and tapir is the
same "Badak".

As is true with the other three species of tapir, reserves for the
protection of T. indicus need to be created and these reserves must
be protected.

G. Research Tapirus terrestris

"Strategies of seed dispersal and seed predation in Amazonian
ungulates". Richard E. Bodmer.

Plants produce pulpy fruits to attract animal vectors which, in
turn, disperse seeds. Seeds are protected against predators by
physical characteristics such as hardness or spines, chemical toxins,
and saturation strategies via mast fruiting. (Janzen 1971, Waller 1979,
Kiltie 1982, Bell 1984, Dirzo and Dominguez 1986).

Ungulates maximize nutritional intake from forest fruits by ex-
ploiting the entire fruti resource, including the protected seeds
(Kiltie 1981, Smythe 1986).

Richard Bodmer found, through his extensive field research, that
the lowland tapir, T. terrestris, is the only ungulate that frequently
disperses intact seeds through the digestive tract.

Bodmer, R.E. 1991. Biotropica 23(3)


1. Rick Barongi
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. Dan Brooks
Texas Tech University
Dept. Biological Sciences
Lubbock, TX 7949-3131

4. Ms. Silvia C. Chalukian
Program Regional Manejo de Vida Silvestre
Apartado 3000
Heredia, Costa Rica

5. Milton R. Cabrera
Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala
Escuela de Biologia
Ciudad Universitaria, Guatemala 10102

6. Alfredo D. Cuaron
Rebsamen 1134
Col. del Valle
Mexico DF C.P. 13100

7. Michael Dee
Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027

8. Craig Downer
P.O. Box 456
Minden, NV 89423

9. Joe Fragoso
Dept. of Natural Sciences
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

10. Bill Konstant
Conservation International
c/o Philadelphia Zoo

11. Karl Krantz
Philadelphia Zoo
34th St. and Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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

13. Sharon Matola, Director
The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center
P.O. Box 1787
Belize City, Belize

14. Dr. Choompol Ngampongsai
Dept. of Conservation
Kasetsart University
Bangkok, Thailand

15. Ed Ramsay, DVM
Zoological Medicine/University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37901-1071

16. Oliver Ryder, Phd
Zoological Society of San Diego
P.O. Box 551
San Diego, CA 92112

17. Mr. Phairot Suvanakorn
Deputy Director General
Royal Forest Dept.
Bangkok, Thailand

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

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

20. Dr. Nico J. van Strien
P.O. Box 537
Zomba, Malawi

21. Chris Vaughan, Director
Wildlife Graduate Program
Universidad Nacional
Campus Omar Dengo
Heredia 1350
Costa Rica

22. Chris Wemmer, PhD
National Zoological Park
Conservation and Research Center
Front Royal, VA 22630

23. Bill Zeigler
General Curator
Miami Metrozoo
12400 SW 152nd St.
Miami, FL 33177

Please send written contributions for the next TSG newsletter to:

Sharon Matola, Chairperson
Tapir Specialist Group
P.O. Box 1787
Belize City, Belize
Central America

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