Common Name: Tapir
Range: The Tapir is an animal that is found mainly in moist, dense forests in the more temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere. The Baird’s Tapir, the Spanish name is Danta or Danto can be found in the tropical forest of Costa Rica. This species of tapir are available from Mexico, Veracruz, and up to Ecuador. The Tapirs were common in Costa Rica but to hunting, they are limited to the several national parks of Costa Rica, such as Santa Rosa National Park, La Selva, Cerro de la Muerte, Corcovado National Park, Penas Blancas National park, Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Size: An adult Tapir can get a height at shoulder, 29 to 42 in (74 to 107 cm)
Weight: The Tapir is weighing 227 to 363 kg (500 to 800 lbs)
Diet: The tapir have an herbivore diet and spends most of their time browsing to eat. The tapir eats leaves, branches, buds, twigs, shoots, seeds, berries, aquatic plants and fruit.
Average life span: The average life span of a tapir is about 25 or 30 years.
Habitat: The tapir is found mainly in moist, dense forests, swaps and in the high temperate forest of northern and south America. It continues to exist in dry humid forest and steamy evergreen wooded area and have other habitats. They are active during the night and pass their days resting in the middle of thick vegetation. The tapir were common in all types of habitat throughout Costa Rica. Now they can be found in national parks. A medium numbers are residing in Santa Rosa National Park and a large numbers are available in Corcovado National Park and in several other national parks.
Breeding/Reproduction: Breeding. Tapirs have not any particular breeding season. Female Tapir have a gestation period of around 390 days, most of the time, they have a single baby. The baby always follows the mother within few minutes after the birth. All new-born tapirs have a reddish-brown skin spotted with white spots and stripes. This pattern helps to provide the young one with excellent camouflage. Whenever there is danger lurking nearby, the baby ‘freezes’ and becomes part of its background. These coat markings continue to last until they are about six months old, and then disappear as the young tapir get their adult coat. The youngster always remains with their mothers for almost a year and then goes off to have their own life.
Baird’s Tapir was named for the American naturalist Spencer Fullerton Baird.
Baird’s Tapirs are also known as:
Macho de Monte (Costa Rica, Columbia and Panama)
Central American Tapir
Mountain Cow (Belize)
Baird’s Tapir is the national animal of Belize.
The Tapirus bairdii, or Baird’s tapir, is one of the four species of the tapir family. The Baird’s tapir is named after Spencer Fullerton Baird, an American naturalist who was one of the first to research these animals. The tapir is the largest of the mammals in Central America. Like the other tapirs found in America, the Braid’s tapir are called danta locally. Tapirs look impressively like pigs with trunks, but they are really associated to rhinoceroses and horses.
Anatomically, the Braid’s tapir has a cream colored marking on its throat and face, and both its cheeks have a dark spot. The rest of this hairy mammal is grayish brown to dark brown. Their skin is tough and thick and hence they are valued for their hide. On an average, they measure up to 2 meters in length and 1.2 meters in height. An adult usually weights between 150-400 kilos. They have the typical long and flexible proboscises as well as the stubby tail, common to all tapir families. The Braid’s tapir is primarily nocturnal and a vegetarian. They will feed on fallen fruit, leaves and other plant material. They enjoy the presence of water and tend to stay close to streams and rivers. On particularly hot days, individuals will spend most of the day submerged in water, with only their heads sticking out.
An adult Braid’s tapir will usually lead a solitary life but forming groups for feeding is not uncommon. An adult tapir is dangerous to approach and will often attack humans if too close.
The Braid’s tapir’s hide is highly valued and hence they are relentlessly hunted for it. The deforestation of forests and human hunting, have virtually brought the Braid’s tapir to the brink of extinction. Laws banning their hunting are rarely enforced and as a result there are less than 6000 tapirs left in the wild. The Braid’s tapir is a huge mammal and hence has no other natural predators.