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Emiliano; a Bairds tapir’s jungle adventure!

By Tomos Williams

The bairds tapir listed as endangered on the IUCN red list because of habitat loss, fragmentation and hunting from predators and humans.

The last 3 generations have seen a population crash of 50% . With less than 5000 presently in the wild, a further 50% decrease is predicted in the next 3 generations.

In 2011 a study into the habitat size of tapirs began at the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in the Mayan forest, Mexico. The aim of the program was to discover the home ranges of the tapirs.

Over the next 4 years the team used camera traps at watering holes to track a lone tapir, Emiliano, that was recognisable from a collar it wore from a previously failed tracking attempt.

Emiliano roaming the jungle (Video: Reyna-Hurtado et al, 2016.Insights into the multiannual home range of a Baird’s tapir)

Dr Sophie Calmé who worked on the project gave further insight; “That tapir was the only individual we were able to follow over several years, and it was also the first data of that kind for tapirs in this type of seasonal tropical forest.

“Even if it was only one individual, what we found was shockingly different from what people have been reporting for wetter areas.”

They discovered that Emiliano had a home range of 40 square kilometres which was heavily influenced by the accessibility of watering holes in the mature tropical forest it inhabits.

“Tapir population estimate based on the range of home and especially considering that the tapir depends on resource water. Once, the tapir established its territory, he uses it frequently. In tropical regions, large species such as the tapir, have low densities.” explained Mauro Sanvicente, a researcher on the project.

The tapir is a protected species in most of mesoamerica and this study has helped gain insight into how large and area needs to be protected to support this species.
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Reyna-Hurtado, R., Sanvicente-López, M., Pérez-Flores, J., Carrillo-Reyna, N., Calmé, S., 2016. Insights into the multiannual home range of a Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii) in the Maya Forest. Theyra, 7 (2): 271-276.[/su_note]


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