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World Tapir Day: 4 species and ways to protect the endangered mammal

On this World Tapir Day, celebrate the beauty of these unique and endangered animals and do your part to ensure their survival
Mountain Tapir and Lowland Tapir (@BoobPunchTina/ @obscure_otd/ Twitter)
Mountain Tapir and Lowland Tapir (@BoobPunchTina/ @obscure_otd/ Twitter)

World Tapir Day is observed annually on April 27 to raise awareness about critically endangered species and to call for their preservation for future generations. These hybrid animals, which resemble both elephants and pigs, share a genetic ancestor with horses and rhinoceroses. The tapir and this varied history have both existed for a very long time. 

Tapirs help spread seeds throughout the forest, hence their extinction could endanger the remaining forest ecology as a whole. The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species classifies Baird's tapir as endangered because of habitat destruction and poaching; in recent years, its population has more than halved.


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What are the species of Tapir? 

Tapirs currently exist in four different species, each with a unique ecological range and physical characteristics, according to the Tapir Specialist Group.

1. Lowland Tapir: Large manes, powerful swimming prowess, big fangs, and long prehensile snouts are characteristics of lowland tapirs. They eat fruits and other vegetation, are shy, and live alone. They are found in tropical lowland rainforests and wetlands, as well as dry habitats. The Lowland tapir population is declining due to habitat loss, hunting, and competition with domestic livestock.

2. Baird's Tapir: The baird's tapir is smaller than the lowland tapir and has a thick, robust hide. The population of baird's tapir is in a continuing decline due to habitat destruction, fragmentation, hunting, and collisions with automobiles. They are found in Central America and Colombia.

3. Mountain Tapir: Mountain tapirs are the largest mammal in the Andes mountain range, with long hair, white lips, and a "watermelon" patterned camouflage coat. They are threatened by warfare, habitat loss, and human population growth, but hunting is no longer a major threat. They are solitary, active between dusk and dawn, and feed on leaves, twigs, and fruits of Andean plants. They are important seed dispersers and maintain the structure and composition of montane forests in South America.

4. Malayan Tapir: Malayan tapirs are the largest tapir species, weighing 350 kg and growing 1.8 meters long. Habitat destruction and fragmentation is a major threat due to deforestation, palm oil plantations, and hunting. Malayan tapirs inhabit rainforests and lower montane forests.

World Tapir Day posted on Twitter, "It's #WorldTapirDay! On this day we raise awareness of threats they face. Tapirs play a crucial role in protecting their habitats in Central and South America and in Southeast Asia. They face extinction unless we act to help them and countless other species."


How to protect Tapirs from being extinct?

Humans need to be more aware of tapirs and their environment to save them from extinction. Here are ways to protect them, as per The Tapir Movement. 

1. Help the environment by planting trees or reducing pollution.

2. Recycle, reduce, and reuse to save tapirs' environment. Recycling benefits the environment. The tapirs will have a healthier habitat and a better environment to live in.

3. Show people how to save tapirs from extinction by posting photos on social media.