The Baird’s Tapir is the largest land mammal (aside from humans in terms of height) in Central America. The tapir is quite heavy compared to other mammals.
Observed from the Caribbean Coast of Mexico to Northwestern Colombia, Baird’s Tapir has also been thought to live in Ecuador. This, however, is unconfirmed. Baird’s Tapir inhabits dry and wet tropical forest and pre-montane forest. You can see Baird’s Tapir in Peñas Blancas National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Corcovado National Park, La Selva Biological Station and La Amistad International Park in Costa Rica.
Mating & Reproduction
Females carry baby tapirs for a year and change. Baird’s Tapirs are thought to be monogamous, and it is also believed that they will defend their territory as a unit. The young stay with their mother for up to a year after birth, and are born with markings which help to camouflage the young tapirs. Weaning and sexual maturity are both reached in the period of about one year.
Baird’s Tapirs are mostly nocturnal, rising from their slumber at dusk. It uses its exceptional sense of smell to forage for leaves and fallen fruit. Baird’s Tapirs are partial to water, and will stay near rivers, ponds, lakes and other watering holes. The young are able to swim by three weeks, and tapirs spend much of their life in water.
These animals live a mostly solitary lifestyle, and are seldom seen in groups. Certain groups are formed around feeding. Mothers and their young will congregate around certain vegetation or watering holes to eat.
The Baird’s Tapir is, unfortunately, in danger of becoming extinct. This is due in large part to humans encroaching on the natural habitat of these tapirs. Other threats to Baird’s Tapirs include poaching and a slow rate of reproduction.
In 2006, the former Costa Rican Minister of the Environment and Energy was attacked by a Tapir when he followed it off trail. Attacks, however, are very rare.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: Peñas Blancas National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Corcovado National Park, La Selva Biological Station, La Amistad International Park
Diet: leaves, fruit
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: dry and wet tropical forest, pre-montane forest
Size: length=1.8-2.5 m weight=150-400 kg height=73-120 cm
Species: Tapirus bairdii