Tapirus pinchaque

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA PERISSODACTYLA TAPIRIDAE

Scientific Name: Tapirus pinchaque
Species Authority: (Roulin, 1829)
Common Name(s):
English Mountain Tapir, Woolly Tapir, Andean Tapir
Spanish Danta De Montaña, Danta Cordillerana, Danta De Páramo, Danta Lanuda, Danta Negra, Gran Bestia, Pinchaque, Tapir Andino
French Tapir Des Andes, Tapir Pinchaque

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2cd+3cd; C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Diaz, A.G., Castellanos, A., Piñeda, C., Downer, C., Lizcano, D.J., Constantino, E., Suárez Mejía, J.A., Camancho, J., Darria, J., Amanzo, J., Sánchez, J., Sinisterra Santana, J., Ordoñez Delgado, L., Espino Castellanos , L.A. & Montenegro, O.L.
Reviewer(s): Shoemaker, A. & Medici, P. (Tapir Specialist Red List Authority)
Justification:
This species is listed as Endangered due to an ongoing and suspected future decline inferred from loss of habitat, fragmentation and hunting pressure. Population declines are estimated to be greater than 50% in the past 3 generations (33 years) and inferred to be greater than 50% decline in the next 3 generations (33 years). In addition there are estimated to be less than 2,500 mature individuals remaining, with an estimated continuing decline of at least 20% in the next 2 generations (22 years). There has been and remains significant hunting pressure on this species. It is extremely rare to encounter an area with mountain tapirs where they are not being over-hunted. There has also been widespread cattle introduction into the last remaining mountain tapir refuges. Cattle have been observed to be forming reproducing families in western Sangay National Park, causing mountain tapirs to abandon areas in San Diego headwater area of park just to north of Sangay Volcano. Visits to other legal refuges of the mountain tapir, i.e., Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve in Ecuador, and reports form Sanctuario Ecologico Tabaconas-Namalle in Peru and parks in Colombia, indicate that the same problem with cattle invasion into mountain tapir sanctuaries is occurring and negatively affecting the mountain tapirs as well as increased hunting associated with vaquero roundups of the mountain tapir. Also, a mining project in northern Peru threatens to destroy the headwater cloud forests and paramos of the scant population of mountain tapirs there. The mountain tapir population is fragmented as a result of human activities.
History:
2002 Endangered
2000 Endangered
1996 Endangered
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Vulnerable (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Tapirus pinchaque is known from the Andean area of Columbia, Ecuador, and northernmost Peru. It occurs in the Central Andes south of Nevados National Park (05º00'N) and in the Eastern Andes, south of Paramo de Sumapaz (04º30'N) in Bogotá. In Colombia, there are no tapirs in the Western Cordillera, northern part of the Central- and Eastern-Cordilleras, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Serrania de la Macarena and Cerro Tacarcuna. The area of suitable habitat for the tapir inside the National Parks is 13% of the total area where tapirs are still found. Historically it has been recorded in Venezuela, however, there is no evidence of its occurrence in this area. The most threatened populations are those of the Central Cordillera between P.N. Las Hermosas and P.N. Nevado del Huila where large tracks of mature montane forests are being converted to opium fields. It is now extinct in much of its former range.
Countries:
Native:
Colombia; Ecuador; Peru
Regionally extinct:
Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The total population is not estimated to be greater than 2,500 individuals, and it is decreasing.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The five major habitat types for Tapirus pinchaque are chaparral, Andean forest, páramo, and riverine meadow. Elevations used range from 1,400 m to the snowline (Downer 1997).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted for food, use of hides and medicinal uses.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Formerly hunting pressure was the primary threat through most areas of the mountain tapir’s distribution (C. Downer pers. comm.) but today, poppy growing and its eradication, warfare and habitat fragmentation are currently the main threats on this species (Emilio Constantino pers. comm.). In some areas, hunting is decreasing due to local regulations and people’s increased awareness of this species’ rarity and conservation status. While a few mountain tapir populations may benefit because guerrilla presence may also relieve colonization pressure in Colombia as it promotes the abandonment of conflict areas (C. Downer pers. comm.), most local biologists feel the presence of the guerrilla is having an overall negative impact on the species’ conservation. Additionally, the “actors” of the armed conflicts in Colombia (army, guerrilla, and paramilitaries) see the presence of field biologists and researchers in the areas that they control as a threat for their safety (Dávalos 2001; Semple 2000). The slow reproduction rate, large home range, and generally solitary nature of mountain tapirs make them particularly vulnerable to destruction of habitat and fragmentation by encroaching agriculture (Downer 1997). Habitat fragmentation is caused by conversion of forests and páramos to cattle ranching and agricultural lands.

The major threat to mountain tapirs in Colombia is human population growth in the Andean region. People settling in the region need land, consumables and services, and their activities lead to habitat destruction.

Additional threats include the development of hydroelectric dams, highways crossing protected areas, petroleum exploration, and electrical networks etc. There are numerous reports of tapir being hit by cars so infrastructure development through habitat is a potential major threat in m. There are numerous proposed highway and other projects in the Andes which would greatly increase vehicular mortalities. Once the construction of these highways is finalized, the vehicles will be able to drive at high speed and the animals crossing the roads will become even more vulnerable. Additionally, these roads will provide easier access to poachers, given the fact that the park lacks enough park rangers to patrol and protect the area.

Another problem in the area is the fact that mountain tapirs are in contact with cattle. Local poachers use the tapir skin to manufacture working tools (backpacks, ropes to ride horses, baskets etc.) and other domestic things such as carpets and covers for beds. Poachers sell tapir skin and feet for medicinal purposes.

Widespread cattle introduction into the last remaining mountain tapir refuges is a serious problem which will likely escalate in the near future. Breeding herds of cattle have been observed in western Sangay National Park in Ecuador, causing mountain tapirs to abandon areas in San Diego headwater area of park just to north of Sangay Volcano. Visits to other legal refuges of the mountain tapir, i.e. Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve in Ecuador, and reports from National Sanctuary of Tabaconas-Namballe in Peru and several parks in Colombia, indicate that the same problem with cattle invasion into mountain tapir sanctuaries is occurring and negatively affecting the mountain tapirs as well as increased hunting associated with vaqueros/ganaderos roundups of the mountain tapirs. The cattle come from small ranches in the vicinities of the park and compete with the tapirs for feeding resources inside the protected area. Besides the competition for food resources, there is a serious risk of transmission of infectious diseases and other etiological agents carried by the cattle, as previously documented for Baird’s and lowland tapirs in other locations. Another problem in Colombia is the fumigations being conducted in National Parks and all zones where cultivation of drugs can be found, including Andean forests in the Central and Oriental Cordilleras. These fumigations are authorized and promoted by the Colombian government, and are a major threat for the mountain tapir populations. The habitat is seriously affected and the animals can possibly be poisoned when in contact with the poison used for the fumigations (Round-Up), which is selective but can affect the availability of food resources.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on CITES Appendix I. Legal protection of the species is in place in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru (Downer 1997). In the Andes of Colombia there are 23 National Parks, of which tapirs are found in only seven (Cordillera los Picachos, Cueva de los Guacharos, Las Hermosas, Los Nevados, Nevado del Huila, Purace, and Sumapaz).

Bibliography [top]

Anonymous. 2004. Mountain Tapir PHVA Report. Available at: http://www.tapirs.org/.

Brooks, D. M., Bodmer, R. E. and Matola, S. 1997. Tapirs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Dávalos, L. M. 2001. The San Lucas mountain range in Colombia: how much conservation is owed to the violence?.

Downer, C. C. 1997. Status and Action Plan of the Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque). In: D. M. Brooks, R. E. Bodmer and S. Matola (eds), Tapirs - Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, pp. 10-22. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Lizcano D. J., Pizarro, V., Cavelier, J. and Carmona, J. 2002. Geographic distribution and population size of the mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) in Colombia. Journal of Biogeography 29(1): 7-15.

Semple, K. 2000. A habitat held hostage (FARC guerrillas drive out researchers). Audubon 102: 82-103.

Suárez-Mejía, J. A. and Lizcano, D. J. 2002. Conflict between mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) and farmers in the Colombian Central Andes. Tapir Conservation. IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group.

Tirira, D. 1999. Mamiferos del Ecaudor. Museo de Zoologia, Centro de Biodiversidad y Ambiente, Pontifica Universidad Católica del Ecaudor and Sociedad para la Investigación y Monitoreo de la Biodiversidad Ecuatoriana, Quito, Ecuador.


Citation: Diaz, A.G., Castellanos, A., Piñeda, C., Downer, C., Lizcano, D.J., Constantino, E., Suárez Mejía, J.A., Camancho, J., Darria, J., Amanzo, J., Sánchez, J., Sinisterra Santana, J., Ordoñez Delgado, L., Espino Castellanos , L.A. & Montenegro, O.L. 2008. Tapirus pinchaque. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 26 October 2014.
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