TAPIR SPECIALIST GROUP
The Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group
Number 7, October 1997
FRONT PAGES, PART I
Issue #7 of Tapir Conservation offers new avenues of information
For the first time since the formation of the Tapir Specialist Group, increased communications have added exciting new avenues of information for everyone interested in tapirs.
The Tapir Specialist Group is fortunate to have the enthusiastic participation of Sheryl Todd. For over twenty years, Sheryl has held a strong interest in tapirs. She was instrumental in founding the Tapir Research Institute located in California, where she successfully raised both T. terrestris and T. bairdii young. Life changed, Sheryl found herself in a world different than one dominated by tapirs, but her enthusiasm for these animals never faded. Today, she is back on line to assist with tapir conservation. She accepted the position of Deputy Chair of the TSG in early September.
Besides creating a world wide web site for tapirs, "The Tapir Gallery," http://www.tapirback.com/tapirgal, Sheryl has brought to life a unique communications network through Tapir Talk. Access to Tapir Talk is easy: through e-mail. Write to Sheryl Todd at email@example.com; include the words, "Tapir Talk" in the subject line. That's all one needs to do to key into compelling conversations about the latest research, and a variety of topics which address all species of tapir.
Some highlights of recent Tapir Talk e-mailings are included in this issue.
On the downside of communications, frequently no response is received from people who consider themselves "tapirologists," when their suggestions and advice or comments are requested.
It is our hope that the tapir communication network will continue to grow stronger and more productive. Thanks to all who have been active in the TSG, providing valuable information and ideas.
The Tapir Action Plan is being finalized in IUCN headquarters, Gland, Switzerland and will soon be published.
A symposium targeting Field Research in MesoAmerica is in planning stages. The venue is the Tropical Education Center at the Belize Zoo and the tentative date is August 1998. See enclosed flyer for complete information. A sub-meeting of the TSG will be held. [Contact Sharon Matola, Director of the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center.]
Tapir Talk highlights
Conservation assistance / Collaring tapirs
There are several organizations involved in tapir conservation, both in-situ and ex-situ. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Wildlife Preservation Trust International (WPTI). IUCN has provided funding to assist with the publication of the Tapir Action Plan.
Three projects involving tapirs which were conducted using radio collars were those of Jose Fragoso, Charles Foerster and Craig Downer.
(Ed. note: In 1984 in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica, Keith Williams radio-collared and accomplished field work on T. bairdii; see also other stories in this newsletter.)
Edited from Tapir Talk; Vol. 1, No. 5
Daniel M. Brooks
IUCN Tapir Action Plan Coordinator/Co-Editor
1537 Marshall, Suite #1
Houston, TX 77006 USA
Anesthetics and behavioral changes
Dr. Francisco Galindo of Mexico communicated that colleagues have told him that while doing field work and capturing sea lions and tapirs, an after-effect from anesthesia (specific drugs not mentioned), was that maternal and social behavior noticeably changed. He queries if anyone has had similar experiences, or has any more information about this.
Edited from Tapir Talk; Vol. 1, No. 37
Dr. Francisco Galindo
Depto. de Etologia y Fauna Silvestre
Fac. de Medicina Veterinaria
Ciudad Universitaria UNAM
04510 Mexico D.F.
How do you say it?
An interesting question has arisen about the Spanish word for "tapir." A familiar usage is "la danta." Is this the correct reference to both male and female tapirs? "Dantas"? Leo Salas believes that "Danta" is derived from the Portuguese, "Anta." However, when referring to the male, the Spanish "el danto" is correct.
Edited from Tapir Talk; Vol. 1 No. 19
Spelling of "bairdii"
The scientific name of Baird's tapir has been spelled variously T. bairdii and T. bairdi in the literature. The question arose as to which was correct. Hershkovitz (1954) used the "ii" spelling in his major review of the tapir family. The question was originally posed on Tapir Talk by Dr. Werner Haberl, a shrew expert, who had encountered the same spelling discrepancy in papers on Baird's shrew. A few days later, he reported that he had consulted a leading mammalogist (name not given), who had said, "The rule is that the name should be spelled according to the first species description, no matter what the correct spelling is. . . ." According to Latin grammar, the single "i" ending would be correct. However, in the case of the tapir, the first description was by Gill (1865) who called the species Elasmognathus bairdii. In 1872, Sclater used the name Tapirus bairdii. Sumichrast (1882) seems to have been the first to use the single "i" (Tapirus bairdi). Following the "first" rule, "bairdii" seems to be the correct, though grammatically incorrect, spelling.
From Tapir Talk; Vol. 1, Nos. 4, 6, 21
Dr. Werner Haberl
The Shrew (ist's) Site
Root canals and tooth care
The Audubon Park Zoo has performed numerous root canals (endodoncias) on their Baird's and Brazilian tapirs utilizing "standard technique." "The only problem was anesthesia, which required narcotics. The repairs have held well for over four years and the animals have ceased to have problems since we changed our fencing and husbandry practices." Males are now separated from cycling females to discourage fence biting.
Edited from Tapir Talk; Vol. 1, No. 31
Roberto F. Aguilar
Audubon Park Zoo
6500 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70118 USA
Tapirs and big cats
Thought-provoking points were brought up in a discussion between Dan Brooks and Leo Salas about tapir predation by big cats. Can a large cat kill a healthy adult tapir, or are tapir remains that appear in cat feces due to scavenging or killing of young or compromised animals?
Edited from several numbers of Tapir Talk
- Craig Downer examined 11 puma scats, of which 2 (18%) contained tapir remains.
- Lowland tapirs were found to be the sixth most important prey item (measured as contributing to at least 5% of biomass and 2% of prey items taken) for jaguars (23 taxa taken total), verified from 106 scats. Source: Taber A.B., A.J. Novaro, N. Neris, and F.E. Colman. 1997. The food habits of sympatric jaguar and puma in the Paraguayan Chaco, Biotropica 29:204-213.
- Better and more accurate data needs to be collected. For instance, if tapir represent 2% of the prey items take and on average there are, say, 1.5 different items per scat, then three remains of tapirs were found. Are these from the same or different tapirs?
- Although large cats prey on cattle which are larger and heavier than tapirs, cattle do not have the defense mechanisms tapirs do (running through brush, diving into water).
- Literature does not contain many reports of large cats attacking tapirs.
- Cats that prey on cattle may be substantially larger than cats where cattle do not exist. (Rabinowitz and Fuller in conversation with Salas).
- Pumas and jaguars seem to eat their prey differently, which can be helpful in identifying which animal either killed or scavenged a tapir.
- It would be a significant finding to prove that a healthy adult tapir was killed by a cat.
- DNA and PCR testing, though very expensive, can determine individual prey and predators, sexes, diseases in predators and even home ranges. (Kohn, Michael; Wayne, Bob; Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 1997. 12(6):223-227).
- Research such as the long-term project of Charles Foerster in Costa Rica, may help determine age-specific or stage-specific mortality rates.
Daniel M. Brooks
c/o Todd K. Fuller
Earthwatch grants, 1998-99
The Center for Field Research invites proposals for 1998-99 field grants funded by its affiliate, Earthwatch. Earthwatch is an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to sponsoring field research and promoting public education in the sciences and humanities. Past projects have included, but are not limited to: animal behavior, biodiversity, ecology, endangered species, and resource and wildlife management. Interdisciplinary projects are especially encouraged as is multinational collaboration. Information can be found at http://www.earthwatch.org, or contact:
The Center for Field Research
680 Mt. Auburn Street
Watertown, MA 02272 USA
Ph (617) 926-8200
Fax (617) 926-8532
Letters from Chiapas
During this past year, Dr. Miguel Alvarez del Toro passed away. For many years he had been Director of the Instituto de Historia Natural, Departamento de Zoologia, the zoo in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico. Dr. Alvarez del Toro was also an outstanding conservationist. In our next issue we will present a tribute to his life and work, along with a discussion of the Baird's tapir breeding program he started at his zoo in the 1950s and carried on for decades. In this issue, however, I would like to share with the tapir community excerpts from two letters from him that I've treasured for many years. Both indicate a man observant and questioning. I always appreciated the time he was willing to take to talk about these animals.
February 9, 1973
"Last year, in May, I had an experience with tapirs in the wild. One night one pair of big ones rushed our camp, stomped out the fire, crashed many things, bit at the tents, etc. When we finally crawled out of the tents, they remained some few meters distant in the full light of the lamps, whistling and stamping their feet on the ground. At last they walked slowly back to the forest and left us wondering why they behaved that way."July 24, 1973
"The encephalomyelitis epizootic that swept this state some years ago killed five of the seven tapirs we had. They showed more or less the same symptoms as horses with such diseases; they kept walking in short circles and sometimes rushed headlong against fences, bit wires, poles, etc. Actually, in this way they were unlike horses; that is, the tapirs got somewhat furious. Finally, they became weaker and weaker until death arrived; at the end the skin turned deep red.Submitted by
"One interesting thing is the fact that as soon as they got sick, the two that would survive went into the deep mud of the moats, sticking out only their nostrils. They stayed this way for twelve days, all day and night, not feeding. I thought they were at the point of death, but I was surprised. During the thirteenth day, they came out very weak and shaking, but started to feed on fallen leaves. So they started to live again and to this day are strong and normal. I always thought the cold of the mud must have kept down the fever, and so they recovered. However the veterinarians said 'No, no, no.' So?
"Six months later, the female gave birth, a stillbirth, and the male looked impotent for some time. Eventually, they both recovered; they had a baby male, born this January."
- Anyone knowing of captive T. bairdii anywhere in Nicaragua, please contact Sharon Matola (see contact info on front page).
- Dr. Francisco Galindo requests information on anesthetics and tapir behavior. See description and contact info above.
- Sheryl Todd requests two types photos. These can be good xerox copies.
- Photos of any T. terrestris adult in which location in the wild (or capture location) is known. If the tapir is captive, location of capture of wild ancestors should be obtainable.
- Photos of juveniles (up to about 4 months) of all species where location of origin or country of captured ancestors is known. See contact info on front page.
Items 2, 4 and 6 are available from Sharon Matola (please send US$5.00 for foreign postage/handling). Items 1, 8 and 9 are available from Sheryl Todd.
- Ashley MV, Norman JE, Stross L. Phylogenetic analysis of the perissodactylan family Tapiridae using mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase (COII) sequences. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 1996; 3(4):315-326.
- Barongi R. Husbandry and conservation of tapirs. International Zoo Yearbook. The Zoological Society of London. 1993 32:7-15.
- Fragoso JMV. Tapir-generated seed shadows: scale-dependent patchiness in the Amazon rain forest. Journal of Ecology. 85: 1997.
- Janssen DL, Michelet S, compilers. Bibliography for Tapiridae. San Diego Zoo. 1994.
- March Mifsut IJ. Situacion Actual del Tapir en Mexico. Centro de Investigaciones Ecologicas del Sureste. Serie Monografica No. 1.
- Matola S. Wildlife Survey of the Raspaculo River, Belize, Central America. December 1994. Report to the Forestry Dept., Government of Belize.
- Naranjo, et al. Available from Eduardo Naranjo; see section on North America for titles and contact info.
- Salas L, Fuller TK. Diet of the lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris L.) in the Tabaro River Valley, southern Venezuela. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 1996; 74(8):1444-1451.
- Salas L. Habitat use by lowland tapirs (Tapirus terrestris L.) in the Tabaro River Valley, southern Venezuela. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 1996; 74(8):1452-1458.
Chair: Patrícia Medici
Deputy Chair: Sheryl Todd
This page is hosted by The Tapir Gallery