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Baird's Tapir

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The Baird's Tapir

The only Central American Tapir is Baird's Tapir (danta; Tapirus bairdii), endangered because of hunting and logging. Weighing 150 to 300 kg, it is the regions largest land mammal. Tapirs are among the world's most ancient large mammals; 20-million-year-old fossils have been found. Their closest relatives are horses and rhinos.

They are stocky, rather short legged, stumpy-tailed animals that are more agile than they appear. They can run as fast as a person and are adept at climbing steep river-banks. the skin is grayish and covered with sparse, coarse blackish hairs. Young tapirs are reddish with white spots or stripes. the upper lip is elongated into a mobile snout like a small trunk, which is used in feeding.

Their favored habitat is waterside forests and they have been most frequently reported on riverbanks in Corcovado, usually singly and occasionally in small groups. Their eyesight is poor but their senses of smell and hearing are excellent. They will run off when they detect people, probably the result of associating humans with hunting. Kayakers silently gliding up coastal rivers in Corcovado have been able to get good looks at these animals, but hikers have had less luck.

Picture 1, Tapirs, Costa RicaPicture 2, Tapirs, Costa Rica
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