Range: Broadly distributed across most of mainland South America east of the Andes, from northern Colombia extending to southern Brazil, northern Argentina and Paraguay, including throughout Venezuela and the Guyana’s, eastern Peru, and northern and eastern Bolivia
Habitats: Tapirs may live in nearly any wooded or grassy habitat where there is permanent supply of water. They commonly shelter in forests or thickets by day, emerging at night to feed in bordering grassy or shrubby areas. Tapirs are agile in closed or open habitat and on or under water
Threats: Deforestation, hunting and competition with domestic livestock have all contributed to the decline and fragmentation of lowland tapir populations. Hunting for tapir meat is increasing with tapir meat now frequently sold in city markets throughout South America. In Paraguay and Argentina tapirs are hunted for their hides, which are commonly used in Paraguay to make sandals that are sold to tourists as souvenirs. The impacts of hunting are made worse as tapirs are unable to quickly repopulate impacted areas.
Social Behaviour: Except for females with young they are usually solitary animals.
Food: Tapirs eat aquatic vegetation and the leaves, buds, twigs and fruits of low growing land plants. They also graze for food eating long grasses and corn.
Information: Tapirs love wallowing and splashing in mud or water and can use the trunk to act as a snorkel in deep water.
Conservation: Our tapirs share their enclosure at South Lakes with our bears. Our charity The Wildlife Protection Foundation funds the Chaparri Ecological Reserve in Peru to help conserve the Andean Spectacled Bear. To find out more go to http://www.wildlifeprotection.info/
The Tambopata Macaw Project is a long term research project, which studies the behaviour, ecology and diet of wild parrots and macaws. The research includes monitoring of home range and habitat use, using GPS surveillance technology, and the study of breeding behaviour through the use of specially designed bird nest boxes with the inclusion of remote cameras.
The information our scientists have uncovered so far has been invaluable to the care and protection of these threatened species, both in this area and across the globe.