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26 August 2016

Good news for south america's terrestrial hippo

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At the beginning of this year, we were thrilled to see lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) at our project site in Brazil. Tapirs have an unusual appearance; they look like a combination of elephant and pig although they are actually more closely related to horses and rhinos. An endearingly peculiar animal, it has a short prehensile ‘trunk’, often dives to feed on aquatic plants and gives birth to stripped and spotted young. 

The lowland tapir is thought to have changed little over millennia, but its fate over the coming years is uncertain. Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, tapir populations have disappeared in recent years as a result of habitat loss, illegal hunting and competition with livestock. These curious little creatures lead a reclusive lifestyle and are largely nocturnal and crepuscular. That’s why we were especially delighted to capture camera trap footage of tapirs at our project site. 

So far, 2016 has been a good year for the species, with numerous sightings of them wandering through the forest corridors. Taking advantage of the new corridors, these tapirs can occupy new habitats and expand their gene pool. To our delight, among those spotted was a female tapir and her calf. 

The video above shows mother and calf roaming the project’s Rosanela corridor.