Paradise Found for Latin America’s Largest Terrestrial Mammal

January 22, 2013

WCS conservationists have scoured the Peru-Bolivia border for signs of lowland tapirs—large herbivores that possess distinctive markings and snouts. After 12 years of research, they’re able to report that these animals are thriving within five national parks.

Sometimes tipping the scales at over 600 pounds, lowland tapirs earn the rank of South America’s largest terrestrial mammal. With their trunk-like snouts, these herbivores snack on leaves and fruit throughout the continent’s tropical forests and grasslands. Like many other large, charismatic wildlife species, habitat loss and hunting threaten their future.

New research undertaken by WCS paints a more positive picture for these forest- and grassland-dwelling mammals. Studies show that lowland tapirs are thriving in a series of connected national parks, with as many as 14,500 occupying the Madidi-Tambopata landscape in Bolivia and Peru.

It took years for WCS conservationists to set camera traps, interview park guards, and chat with subsistence hunters to assess how tapirs are faring in the remote South American reserves known for biodiversity. Together with WCS jaguar research, these new results underscore the importance of protected areas for conserving Latin America’s iconic wildlife.

Learn more with our press release>>

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