Recent documentation of the distribution, population density, and habitat use of the tapir in Peru’s Northern Andes will aid in the conservation of one of the largest and most threatened mammals in the region.
The mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) is categorized as a globally endangered species according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, despite its wide distribution in Colombia, Ecuador, and northern Peru. The population of this unique mammal has decreased in recent years due to habitat loss caused by forest fires, deforestation, cattle ranching, and agricultural activities. The global population is estimated at less than 2,500 mature individuals.
Nature and Culture International Biologists in Peru, Elio Núñez and Katty Carrillo, gathered information on the distribution and conservation status of the mountain tapir in Peru along with professionals from the Spectacled Bear Conservation Society (SBC Peru), Research Center of Biodiversity and Sustainability (BioS), and the Catholic University of Peru. Studies on the distribution of the tapir in Peru were previously lacking and obtaining an updated review of its preferred habitats would help with conservation efforts.
Based on the occurrence of the species from local sightings and camera trap records, between 2016 and 2018, the scientists expanded on a map of current tapir distribution in the northern Andes of Peru. The Study Area covers a total of 468,814 acres of páramo and montane forest in the provinces of Ayabaca and Huancabamba in Piura; as well as in the provinces of Jaén and San Ignacio in Cajamarca and in the province of Ferreñafe in Lambayeque, of which approximately 60% is within protected areas supported by Nature and Culture International.
This research was recently published in the Journal for Nature Conservation and thanks to this scientific article, recommendations were obtained for the conservation of the montane forests, páramo, and Yungas, all habitats of the mountain tapir. In addition, binational initiatives have been proposed to guarantee connectivity with the populations between Ecuador and Peru. With this new research, the tapir is promoted as a key species in the protection of mountain ecosystems and their water sources.
In a recent interview, Biologist Carrillo shared, “It is important to generate scientific information in order to provide tools for communities and public institutions to continue protecting Peruvian highlands and montane forests, the habitat of the species in our region.” According to Carrillo, Nature and Culture’s mosaic of conservation areas in the Andes of northern Peru and southern Ecuador protect the mountain tapir habitat, and conservation actions for the species are being promoted.
She also mentioned that the team is currently working in coordination with the Ministry of the Environment, the National Service of Protected Areas, the Binational Plan, the Regional Governments of Piura and Cajamarca, and the local governments to achieve official recognition of the Northern Andes Conservation Corridor. This initiative aims to reduce habitat degradation, forest loss, and fragmentation through connectivity to protect endangered species such as the mountain tapir, one of the emblematic species of the northern Peruvian Andes.
Read more about the mountain tapir by clicking here.