Animal Info - Mountain Tapir

(Other Names: Andean Tapir, Bestia Negra, Danta Cordillerana, Danta de Montaña, Danta de Páramo, Danta Lanuda, Danta Negra, Gran Bestia, Mountain Woolly Tapir, Pinchaque, Tapir Andino, Tapir des Andes, Tapir Pinchaque, Woolly Tapir)

Tapirus pinchaque (T. roulin)

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Population Estimates, Countries Where Currently Found, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Density and Range)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Mountain Tapir #1 (26 Kb JPEG) (Huffman 2004); Mountain Tapir #2 (28 Kb JPEG) and Mountain Tapir #3 (39 Kb JPEG) (Tapirback)

The mountain tapir weighs about 225 kg (500 lb). It inhabits montane forests at altitudes of 1400 - 4700 m (4600 - 15,400'), occurring most frequently between 2000 - 4300 m (6600 - 14,100') in scrub habitats, dominated by stunted trees and shrubs. It prefers moist habitats and bathes frequently. The mountain tapir is a browser, with a diet that includes ferns and plant shoots. In contrast to other tapir species, which are predominantly nocturnal, the mountain tapir apparently is active during both daytime and nighttime. Although mountain tapirs are generally solitary, except for mothers with young, they have been seen in groups of 5 - 7 individuals.

Since at least 1954, the mountain tapir has been though to occur in the Andes Mountains in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and possibly western Venezuela. Currently it is mainly found in Colombia and Ecuador. In the middle 1950's, evidence indicated that during the last few decades it had undergone a substantial decline. It has also been forced into the higher, less accessible parts of the mountains.

The mountain tapir's decline has been caused mainly by habitat loss through clearing (often by burning) for agriculture and livestock. Hunting for meat and sport has also been a factor. In the 1960's and 1970's, many mountain tapirs were lost due to capture (with high mortality) for zoos. Recently it has been pointed out that Highland Indians use the tapir's hooves and snout as medicinal remedies for epilepsy and heart problems. The latter are also sold in urban centers. This commerce is proving particularly devastating to surviving populations (Downer 1996).


Tidbits

*** Little is known about the mountain tapir. Most information has come from occasional observations in the wild, reports from indigenous people in the species' range, and observation of captive animals.

*** The mountain tapir is the smallest tapir.

*** Sangay National Park, Ecuador and surrounding regions probably support one of the few areas with a viable population of mountain tapirs. However, the tapir's chances for survival are hampered by local attitudes. Community leaders along the western border of the park have vowed to continue grazing in the park, maintaining: "Where man has once set foot he will never retreat." (Behler 1992).

*** The mountain tapir is said to be intolerant of disturbance.

*** The tapir's role in dispersing seeds was demonstrated by a study in Ecuador, which showed that 42% of the species of vascular plants eaten by the mountain tapir germinated in its feces (Downer 1996).


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Mountain Tapir Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. (IUCN 2004)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

Since at least 1954, the mountain tapir has been though to occur in the Andes Mountains in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and possibly western Venezuela. Currently it is mainly found in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. In the middle 1950's, evidence indicated that during the last few decades it had undergone a substantial decline. It has also been forced into the higher, less accessible parts of the mountains.

Distribution Map #1 (6 Kb GIF) (Huffman 2004)  
Distribution Map #2 (20 Kb GIF) (IUCN Spec. Surv. Comm.)
Distribution Map #3 (21 Kb) (InfoNatura) 
Distribution Map #4 (27 Kb JPEG) (Spec. Cons. Found.)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The mountain tapir's decline has been caused mainly by habitat loss through clearing (often by burning) for agriculture and livestock. Hunting for meat and sport has also been a factor. In the 1960's and 1970's, many mountain tapirs were lost due to capture (with high mortality) for zoos. Recently it has been pointed out that Highland Indians use the tapir's hooves and snout as medicinal remedies for epilepsy and heart problems. The latter are also sold in urban centers. This commerce is proving particularly devastating to surviving populations (Downer 1996).


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The mountain tapir weighs about 225 kg (500 lb).

Habitat:

The mountain tapir inhabits montane forests at altitudes of 1400 - 4700 m (4600 - 15,400'). It occurs most frequently between 2000 - 4300 m (6600 - 14,100') in scrub habitats, dominated by stunted trees and shrubs. In Sangay National Park, Ecuador, Andean forest was found to be the most important habitat type, followed by chaparral, paramo and pampas. Riverine meadow occurred in all of these habitat types and was used often (Downer 1996).

The mountain tapir is one of the species that live in the Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl.) as well as the North Andean Paramo and the Northern Andean Montane Forests Global 200 Ecoregions. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Age to Maturity:

2.5 - 3.5 years.

Gestation Period:

390 - 400 days.

Birth Season:

Breeding apparently occurs throughout the year.

Birth Rate:

1 young is usually born at a time; rarely 2.

Early Development:

The young mountain tapir stays close to its mother for a year, especially for the first 6 months.

Maximum Age:

30 years.

Diet:

The mountain tapir's diet includes ferns and plant shoots.

Behavior:

In contrast to other tapir species, which are predominantly nocturnal, the mountain tapir apparently is active during both daytime and nighttime. It is fond of water and bathes frequently

Social Organization:

Mountain tapirs had been considered generally to be solitary, except for mothers with young, although they had been seen in groups of 5 - 7 individuals. However, recent observations from as far apart as Sumatra, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Brazil suggest that in all four species of tapir, wild tapirs’ behavior patterns include much more companionship activity than previously believed, with a number of adult tapirs being observed traveling in pairs (Todd & Matola 1998).

Density and Range:

Average horizontal home range of an adult mountain tapir: 880 hectares (2200 acres) (Downer 1996). The significant vertical relief of its habitat provides it with a much greater surface area and vegetation resource.


References

Behler 1992, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl., Curry-Lindahl 1972, Downer 1995, Downer 1996, Grimwood 1968, Huffman 2004, InfoNatura, IUCN Spec. Surv. Comm., IUCN 1969, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Macdonald 1984, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1993, Spec. Cons. Found., Tapirback, Todd & Matola 1998, WCMC/WWF 1997


Top of Page | Search This Site

Home | Rarest Mammals | Species Index | Species Groups Index | Country Index | Links


Last modified: June 4, 2006;

© 1999 - 2014 Animal Info. Endangered animals of the world. SJ Contact Us.