World Tapir Day
The 27th April is World Tapir Day.
It’s a day with two aims, so here they are, with ways you can get involved:
1. What's a Tapir?
First, the day aims to raise awareness about tapirs and their different species; not much is known about tapirs and they aren’t an animal that immediately springs to the forefront of one’s mind. And yet tapirs are vital in the ecosystem: they are seed dispersers. We need to know more about them and why they matter and how we can help them. Dr. Patrícia Medici is known worldwide for her work saving Lowland tapirs and their habitats:
Tapirs are often called “gardeners of the forest” – when they poo, that poo disperses the seeds of the fruit they eat. And that helps maintain the structure of the forests where they are. The larger trees in tropical forests have bigger seeds which the larger fruit-eating animals eat and disperse through their poo. If that didn’t happen, the big trees would give way to smaller trees which would store less carbon. Read the article To slow climate change, save the toucans and tapirs to find out more.
There are 4 species of extant tapir, three living in Central and South America and one in South East Asia. Back in 2013, an academic paper claimed to have discovered another species in South America – but it hasn’t been classified yet and it could simply have been a young Brazilian tapir. The World Tapir Day website has more information on each tapir species. Needless to say, like so many species, there have been other tapir species – but they are now extinct. The site aims to develop a community around tapir awareness and conservation. You can join the Facebook group and follow World Tapir Day on Twitter and Instagram
2. Tapirs need homes too!
World Tapir Day also raises funds to purchase land to protect tapirs from human encroachment. Mining, palm oil plantations, roads and settlements all threatened tapir habitat – jungles, grasslands, swamps and cloud forests.
Why are tapirs needing help? Forests have been destroyed, and are now often small, isolated enclaves. Human activity has encroached on their home. And so tapirs vanish, along with many other species.
As I type from my home in Sussex, the World Land Trust is currently raising £295,000 to buy 642 acres of land under imminent threat from logging. It’s home to the West Indian Manatee, Magdalena River Turtles, a wealth of monkeys, the jaguar and the lowland tapir. The land purchase will extend the existing Rancho Verde and create forest corridors to connect with reserves..
You can be a part of this fundraiser by doing two things:
Every action helps. The appeal is almost there – as I type this, 86% of the funds needed have been raised. One final PUSH and it's there! Visit the World Land Trust’s website for more information
Tapir Conservation Charities:
The Tapir Specialist Groupworks to study and protect the four species of tapirs and their remaining habitat in Central and South America and Southeast Asia. There’s lots of info about th different species and conservation efforts on their website
The Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative promotes the research and conservation of lowland tapirs and their remaining habitats in Brazil. The partners who support them are listed here and you’ll see they include a number of zoos.