ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2008
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THIS BEAUTIFUL POSTER (right) is free to the first 12 people who donate $100.00 or more to Club Tapir. It depicts Tapirus terrestris colombianus of Northwestern Colombia, a tiny, fragmented population that may be the only recognized subspecies. Poster donated by Franz Kaston Florez (www.nativa.org); 19 x 27 inches.
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Georgina O'Farrill, Andrew Gonzalez, Sophie Calmé and Raja Sengupta ~
Towards the conservation of the Baird's tapir in the biodiverse Selva Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula: the persistence of an endangered species in a region undergoing climate change
Baird's tapir taking a mud bath in Nuevo Becal, Campeche, Mexico. The cause of the white spot on the tapir's head is undetermined, but it is suspected to be a pigmentation anomaly in this individual. Copyright 2007 Georgina O'Farrill
Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii; tapir centro americano) is the largest neotropical terrestrial mammal and is catalogued as endangered in Mexico. Georgina and her team are studying the effects of climate change and dry seasons on the Baird's tapirs of the Selva Maya region in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Due to their large size and large habitat use, tapirs might have a unique role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers of large seeded plants once dispersed by the extinct megafauna such as Manilkara zapota (zapote). The zapote tree is an economically and biologically important plant species, which has been confirmed by Georgina and her team, to be dispersed by tapirs. One of the main factors that might be affecting the seed dispersal function of tapirs is the reduction of total precipitation in the area, which has diminished by almost 62% in 46 years. Georgina’s project is focused on "understanding the role of tapirs as unique seed dispersers in the ecosystem, especially its tight interaction with the zapote tree," "where are tapirs dispersing zapote seeds?" and "how are they affecting the survival of zapote populations?" When asked how various amounts of Club Tapir funding might be used, Georgina said, "$200 or $300 would be used to pay my field assistant to monitor a large scale germination experiment we have followed for almost two years and to monitor tapirs that we have been seeing around waterholes like the one in the picture. If you were to raise more, I could get a GPS collar to understand tapirs movements and if you raise a lot I will use it for a genetic study to estimate the number of tapirs in the area."
Wilson Novarino ~
Population Monitoring and Conservation Awareness of Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus)
In Taratak Forest Reserve, Sumatra, Indonesia
Camera-trap photo of an Asian (Malay, Malayan) tapir in Sumatra. Copyright 2007 Wilson Novarino.
The Tapir Preservation Fund (TPF) was pleased to support Wilson's work in the year 2000. This Malayan tapir feeding study taught Wilson and the world about which plants the tapir ate in its native Sumatra, and laid groundwork for ongoing conservation efforts. A lecturer at Andalus University in Padang, Wilson's work has broadened into a field program, bringing education and skills to villagers in vitally threatened areas of the tapirs' range. The current project includes teaching local people about conservation by the use of books and interactive games, as well as hands-on reforestation of tapir habitat with the tapirs' natural food plants. Camera-trapping is another component of the work, as is training students to help in various aspects from community outreach to reforestation to checking camera traps (note: these traps capture only the photos, not the tapirs!) - a project which helps us learn where the tapirs live and where they must be protected.
Sergio Sandoval ~
Determining Mountain Tapir Population structure in the Colombian Andes
using DNA markers
A baby mountain tapir at Pitalito, Huila, Colombia. Copyright 2005 Sergio Sandoval Arenas.
The mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) is considered the most endangered tapir species in the world. Its distribution is restricted to the high lands of the Andean region of northern Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. The entire remaining population is probably less than 3,000 individuals, mainly distributed in Colombia. Unfortunately the necessary information for its conservation is still lacking. It is necessary to get up-to-date data about recent distribution, habitat fragmentation and population structure to be able to take key actions for its long term conservation. Recent advances in technology and genetics have opened the door to new strategies for mountain tapir conservation. Using molecular markers to monitor mountain tapirs is a first step to understanding its population structure. A series of field trips will be performed in order to collect mountain tapir DNA samples within national parks and unprotected habitats along the central mountain chain of the Colombian Andes. Samples will mainly consist of hairs and droppings left by the animals in the field, so it will be not necessary to handle the animals, thus preventing any risk for them. . . . Results of this study will be used to begin a long term mountain tapir monitoring program using molecular tools as a permanent low-cost strategy to keep information up to date for population management by Colombian environmental authorities. If successful, the procedure will be replicated along the entire mountain tapir range in the eastern mountain chain of the Colombian Andes, as well as in Ecuador and Northern Peru.
Silvia Chalukian ~
Ecology and Conservation of Tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) in Northwest Argentina: Habitat use, diet, density and cattle impact
Mother and baby lowland tapir are caught on film by Silvia Chalukian for a study in Argentina. Copyright 2007 Silvia Chalukian.
"Argentina is the southernmost limit of distribution of the species. They are considered vulnerable and locally threatened because of habitat reduction and disturbance, and hunting. The species’ historical range has been reduced almost 50% in the last 100 years. The areas with highest probability for survival are the national parks and surrounding areas. As the first long-term field study of tapirs, we started to work in El Rey National Park, an area with an outstanding opportunity to watch wild tapirs and other forest ungulates. We are adding to the ecological knowledge of the species and contributing, through different activities, to the conservation of the species and its habitats. The goals of this project are: 1) Increase knowledge about tapirs’ ecology and threats: habitat use, cattle impact, ecological role in El Rey National Park and potential buffer and corridor areas; 2) promote knowledge and awareness about about the tapir's importance at the local and regional level; 3) offer training to young professionals and students; 4) Work towards a regional conservation strategy. Currently we are focusing on tapir movements, activities and density using non-intrusive methods. Fieldwork includes detection of tapir routes by tracks, track photographing and analysis (in collaboration with WildTrack) and photographic records (photo traps), also feces collection for DNA and parasite analysis. With $200-300 I could buy batteries for camera traps and pay a field assistant for sampling periods. With more I could repair camera traps (4), buy film, pay for more assistance and even buy a scanner for negatives."
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