The Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque): Main customer for our proposed “Forests in the Sky” corridor

Near EcoMinga’s Cerro Candelaria and Chamana reserves is a group of natural mineral springs which attract the endangered Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque). Juan Pablo Reyes and team, in conjunction with the Proyecto Conservacion del Tapir Andino, set camera traps at these springs to study the population of these tapirs (which are related to rhinoceros). Here are some of the better clips from those camera traps. Some of these individuals undoubtedly use our nearby EcoMinga reserves.

The most severely endangered mammal of our area is the Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque). This relative of the rhinoceros is a several-hundred pound chunk of very tempting meat on legs. People used to shoot it whenever they could. Lately, though, increasing prosperity and the tireless local educational efforts by Juan Pablo Reyes, Diana Bermudez, and others have shifted our neighbors away from hunting, so there is still a viable tapir population in our area, centered in the two national parks on either side of the Rio Pastaza. Nevertheless, as is the case for any large mammal in these forests, the actual density of individual tapirs in the area would be low even if there were no hunting at all. This makes the species vulnerable to genetic problems and loss of genetic diversity caused by inbreeding. By creating a protected forest corridor between these two national parks, we ensure that the two major populations here can exchange individuals, so that this species (and many others!) can maintain its genetic diversity.

Tapirs were once found throughout North America, Europe, and northern Asia; many of those species survived until very recently in the late Pleistocene, and humans may have played a role in some of their extinctions. The four South American tapir species arrived from North America around 8 million years ago, during the great faunal exchange that took place when Central America became joined to South America.

Help us protect these rare and mysterious relics of the Pleistocene by supporting the World Land Trust’s “Forests in the Sky” Big Match campaign, which ends Oct 15. Funds donated to the World Land Trust by that date will be matched 100%, doubling their effect. See my previous post for more information.—Lou Jost

3 thoughts on “The Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque): Main customer for our proposed “Forests in the Sky” corridor

  1. [cid:image001.jpg@01D105FD.825EA300]

    Hi Lou –

    It seems to me that the river and the highway provide a pretty effective barrier to a “corridor.” Protecting more acreage is always a good thing, but I wonder of there will really be any effective communication between the two sides. I guess the tapirs could cross at night ?

    What’s your thinking ?


    Peter S. Tobias, President
    The Orchid Conservation Alliance
    564 Arden Drive
    Encinitas, CA 92024
    Cel: 760-518-5120

    • Peter, as I mentioned in the previous post, the highway goes through a very long tunnel (one of the longest in Ecuador) through the mountain in the area where we are building the corridor. The highway does not impede connectivity here.

      The river is shallow except after extended periods of heavy rain, and in recent years it is even shallower because most of the water (sometimes almost all of it) is also diverted through a big tube through the mountain for the San Francisco hydroelectric project. Large mammals (especially tapirs, which love water) will not find this to be a significant barrier.

  2. Pingback: Two more new frogs discovered in our Rio Zunac Reserve | Fundacion EcoMinga

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