Gardeners of the Forest
The Baird’s Tapir is one of the world’s four tapir species, or “Ngarbing” as they are called in the Indigenous Rama language. It lives in Central America and parts of northwest South America. These tapirs, which can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh up to 550 pounds, are critically important to keeping forests healthy. As they range through forests eating more than 200 species of fruits and plants, they disperse seeds through their scat, helping forests regenerate. Their important role in keeping forests healthy has earned them the nickname, “gardeners of the forest.” Re:wild
Threats to Their Survival
The major threats to the species are habitat destruction and fragmentation and hunting throughout its range. Deaths have been recorded through collisions with automobiles, particularly in Belize.
Population Estimate (2006): Estimates suggest that there are less than 5,500 Baird’s tapir remaining in the wild, with populations in Mexico under 1,500, Guatemala under 1,000, Honduras under 500, Nicaragua under 500, Republic of Panama under 1,000, Costa Rica under 1000, and Colombia approximately 250. Populations of Baird’s tapir are in a continuing decline.