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Protecting the Lowland Tapir with IUCN’s Tapir Specialist Group

The lowland tapir has the broadest range of all four tapir species extending from north-central Colombia and east of the Andes throughout most of tropical South America down to north eastern Argentina and Paraguay. Tapirs play a critical role in shaping and maintaining biological diversity, and function as an indicator species of the health of various tropical biomes, and are critical species to key ecological processes, for example, seed dispersal, as well as nutrient recycling. But tapirs are threatened by habitat destruction and hunting.

The Brazil-wide Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative (LTCI) was first established in 1996 in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. This program included research on basic tapir ecology, demography, epidemiology, genetics, as well as education and habitat restoration efforts. The main outcome of the Atlantic Forest Tapir Program was a Regional Action Plan for the conservation of tapirs and their remaining habitats within the Atlantic Forest domain. In 2008, the LTCI expanded its reach and the Pantanal Tapir Program was established, aimed at assessing tapir status in the region and, once again, designing a specific set of conservation strategies that will benefit tapirs, other wildlife, as well as the Pantanal biome itself. With Taronga’s support, the LTCI will use tapirs as flagship species, catalysing education, awareness, capacity-building, and scientific tourism initiatives throughout Brazil.

The Tapir Specialist Group, a unit of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, strives to conserve biological diversity by stimulating, developing, and executing practical programs to study, save, restore, and manage the four species of tapir and their remaining habitats in Central and South America and Southeast Asia. Their strategies include establishing strong and effective relationships among tapir conservationists to stimulate communication and cooperation.

What can you do to help: Our consumption places pressure on resources all over the world – whether you are travelling or buying here in Australia, think then ask before you buy – will what I am buying affect wildlife?

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