A program to reintroduce the tapir into the Atlantic Forest near Rio de Janeiro seems to be reaping rewards after a baby tapir was spotted there earlier this year.
The animal was picked up by a camera trap in the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve. Tapirs are the largest remaining terrestrial mammal in the Amazon.
They can reach up to 2.5 meters in body length and 300 kilograms.
It’s believed that this may be the first wild tapir born in the area for more than a century.
Since 2017, four captive-bred males and three females have been released into the forest and its thought that the baby caught on camera came from these animals.
In addition to the baby tapir, scientists also believed that another female was pregnant.
Tapirs help repair forests
Tapirs are crucial to ecosystems and it’s for this reason that they have been released into the Atlantic Forest. Known as a ‘forest gardener’, the creatures wander far distances and assist greatly in the dispersion of seeds through defecation.
This greatly boosts the cross-pollination of plant genes which helps to restore degraded natural habitats.
Similar projects have been implemented with beavers in the UK and wolves in America’s Yellowstone park in order to try and restore the natural balance.
The Atlantic Forest is situated roughly only 50 kilometers outside of the populous Rio de Janeiro. It’s been steadily obliterated over the years through logging, farming, and other economic development.
Only 7% to 15% of the original tree coverage remains although species such as capybara, armadillos, toucans, and capuchins are still living in the forest.
Image Credit: dimarik16