Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mountain Tapir


The DANTA (name in Colombia) or Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) is the smallest of all the tapirs (others include Malayan, Brazilian and Baird's). They have a thick fur coat with an insulating undercoat. This thick coat is helpful as they prefer to live in the cold Páramos (Alpine plains) of the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru (between 6,500-14,400 feet).
One of the unique and distinctive features of the tapir is its nose, which is elongated and hangs over the mouth.

The animal is a nocturnal plant eater, whose diet includes shoots and stems.

The Tapir is a solitary animal, rarely seen in groups. Its predators are jaguars and humans. In the wild, it can live up to 30 years, but rarely lives that long in captivity. One tapir, however, named Anja, lived for a record 27 years at a zoo in Stuttgart, Germany.

In 1996, they were listed as an endangered species by the IUCN. The biggest problem for the tapir is encroachment by humans and subsistence hunting. One of Colombia's biggest plans is to create a biological corridor from Caldas to Tolima. This plan hopes to link all of Colombia's national parks in the area so that animals (not just the Tapir) can have a larger free range. There is also hope of creating a corridor between Chingaza and Sumapaz. The creation of these corridors will not only help to save the Tapir, but other endangered species as well.

Around 10 mountain tapirs can be found in the world's zoos. You can take your little Colombian to see them in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Colorado Springs, and Langley, British Colombia in Canada. There is even one being raised in captivity in Colombia. Several have been born in Colorado Springs and Los Angeles in captivity.
Here is a link to the Tapir Preservation Fund. There is a wealth of information, photos, links to a google group, and a store where you can buy a ceramic tapir made in Colombia.

http://www.tapirback.com/tapirgal/

A group has also formed in Colombia, all information is in Spanish:

http://tapiruscol.tripod.com/

Colombia's own plan to save the Tapir (in Spanish):

http://tapiruscol.tripod.com/recursos/ProgramaTapirusColombia.pdf
* Photo by tomsaint11

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