Why the tapir is in danger of extinction

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Despite the efforts of many organizations around the world to preserve thousands of endangered species, every day more animals, birds, fish, insects and even microorganisms are affected. These organisms suffer more and more the pressure caused by humanity and its tireless satiety to obtain many resources for their well-being. The problem is that the current population does not seem to be overly concerned about the fact that species of many ecological levels are being lost, so in this Green Ecologist article we have decided to explain a particular example to you, that of a mammal commonly called tapir: Why is the tapir in danger of extinction?

Tapir: characteristics and curiosities

The tapir, mboreví or anta, is a mammal of the order Perissodactyla, such as horses, zebras or rhinos. This organism makes up the only living genus of the tapirid family, since the rest have become extinct over many years of evolution. Are currently known four different speciesOf the three, four come from Central and South America, and the last one is of Asian origin. The closest known current living relative of the tapir is the rhinoceros.

This animal is of a medium large size, although depending on the species, its wingspan may vary. It measures approximately two meters long and can reach weigh between 150 and 300 kg. Its body is wide, like its head and neck, with which it makes its way through the undergrowth of the tropical forests in which it lives. In addition, it has a very sharp and particular nose, since its shape is tubular, but the curious thing is that it is flexible, in such a way that you can move it from side to side to be able to detect the closest and most succulent flowers, fruits and leaves. on which it feeds.

The tapir takes refuge in jungle regions, in humid areas very close to the water, since it spends a long time in the mud and in the water, which is why it is a very good swimmer and diver. It creeps through the vegetation, is almost imperceptible to many other animals, and is able to live its entire life in the jungle, without any contact with nearby human civilizations. That is why it is very difficult to observe in its natural state.

Usually the tapirs have diurnal habitsEven if they are exposed to dangerous situations, they do not hesitate to move at night.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that this animal, due to the fact that they have three toes on the back legs and four toes on the front legs, have the ability to move their fingers at will to better grip the ground on the ground.

Why the tapir is in danger of extinction

The tapir is a little known animal popularly, since it does not interact much with the environments in which humans are present. This is due, as mentioned above, to its reserved behavior and their way of life linked to the deepest areas of the tropical jungle. So, if we were in the rainforest and we came across a tapir, it might not be afraid of us, but might even come close out of curiosity.

Below we explain the main causes why the tapir is in danger of extinction, but first we must mention what is its current state of conservation. To do this, we consult the IUCN Red List[1] (in which we will find practically any threatened species in the world), and it appears that three of the four species of tapir are classified as threatened and the remaining as vulnerable.

Hunting and derivatives

The tapir is an animal with very particular physical characteristics. Above all the American species are severely exploited for their meat, which is usually eaten roasted or in the form of charqui (dried meat). In addition, the tapir has a hard and resistant skin that is of great interest to make shoes, belts, whips and other materials. The tapir also turns out to be a popular animal with respect to the traditional medicine of various cultures, since for many years its particular hooves, along with a mixture of herbs, have been used to cure certain heart conditions, hemorrhages, seizures or even kidney stones .

The tapir kill To obtain certain resources, it has been carried out for many years, but the great concern comes from the increase in the deaths of this animal in recent decades. Tapir populations are severely affected by the uncontrolled hunting that currently exists in the areas where they live.

Finally add that, although it is not killed directly, the tapir is also seriously affected by illegal traffic that are made of these species to zoos and other parks with animals. This factor also affects the abundance of tapir populations and we also do not know what care they receive, so it is possible that their long lifespan of about 30 years is drastically reduced.

Agricultural and forestry operations

The tropical forest is an area of the planet in high demand for its exotic woods, which are worryingly exploited. Thus, it is not surprising that tapir habitats are also being affected, especially those that inhabit South America. In addition, areas that do not have sufficient forest interest, or have already been deforested, are used as a crop field, which is normally very extensive and in which it is very likely that the use of pesticides is not adequately regulated. So we've been a few decades uncontrollably destroying the different habitats of tapirsAs a result, their populations are seriously threatened and are more exposed to other dangers.

Cattle raising

Apart from agricultural structures and forestry, part of the jungle terrain too it is destined for farms. Thus, part of the tapir habitat is also destroyed by building these livestock structures, which are not normally managed properly, so that the remaining polluting residues can seep and corrupt nearby aquatic areas.

Urbanization

Human society is in dire need of building buildings and other infrastructures non-stop. That has involved a great regression of the green areas of the planet, a fact that seriously affects other living beings, since plants and trees provide us with the oxygen we need to live. Thus, in the jungle regions where the tapir inhabits, this need to build and urbanize green areas is also on the rise. In the following article we talk about the importance of nature reserves and protected areas.

From what we can observe, there are many causes that are affecting tapir populations and their habitat. Thus, if we do not begin to correct these acts that decrease the populations of these species, in addition to their habitat being destroyed and fragmented, in a very few years this very special genus will be completely extinct.

How to prevent tapir extinction

There are currently a few tapir conservation measures. Even so, these are insufficient as long as it continues to be killed for its meat and skins or the jungle areas in which it inhabits continue to be destroyed.

First of all you must take a organized and sustainable management of resources that can be extracted from these areas, in addition to keeping society informed about this animal and the vulnerable situation it is living today. From here, we can separate the conservation measures for habitat and the conservation measures for the species.

Thus, in the first place, to protect and maintain the jungle regions in which the tapir inhabits, measures must be taken for strategic planning of land use and territorial ordering, that is, managing agricultural, livestock and urban areas. A list should also be made of the most vulnerable or threatened species in the area and create a wide variety of protected areas in which all of them can coexist. In addition, being informed about the legislation that covers these areas can be very useful to know if they are properly protected or if they need more demanding regulations.

So, broadly speaking, these are the main steps that should be taken to start protecting the tapir. Even so, this is not enough to counteract the great decline that these species are experiencing, since for this the governments of the areas must be involved, as well as many organizations that make sure that compliance with these measures is being carried out correctly.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why the tapir is in danger of extinctionWe recommend that you enter our category of Endangered Animals.

References
  1. International Union for Conservation of Nature (2022). Red List. Available at: https://www.iucn.org/es/tags/work-area/red-list
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