First wild tapir born in Rio de Janeiro in over 100 years

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 23 March 2020

Brazilian conservationists were happy when a wild tapir was born in Rio de Janeiro’s Atlantic Forest. According to the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve, lowland tapir have ‘been extinct in the state of Rio de Janeiro for over 100 years.’

The last record of a population of tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) in the state of Rio de Janeiro dates back to 1914.

Scientists say that this birth is an indication of the initial success of the reintroduction strategy for the threatened animal. Since 2017, three captive-bred female and four male tapirs have been reintroduced into the area within the Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve. The reintroduction forms part of the Refauna Project, which was undertaken in conjunction with the State Environment Institute (Inea).

According to Matador Network, Maron Galliez, professor of biology at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rio de Janeiro, said, ‘The whole team is very happy. We now know the project is moving in the right direction. The birth of a tapir in nature indicates the formation of a population in the state. This is essential to restoring the proper functioning of this ecosystem.’

Scientists are hoping that the reintroduction of tapirs to the Atlantic Forest area will help rebuild the habitat which has been devastated by deforestation.

According to a study done in 2019, the reintroduction of tapirs can help speed up reforestation of the area, as they tend to dig around in degraded areas and deposit their dung which is full of tree seeds.

Image: Vera Kratochvil/

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