Check out February’s animal of the month!
This month we are celebrating one of our wonderful and unique species, the lowland tapir.
Tapirs are found in the lowland areas of many countries in northern and central South America, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. They live in a variety of habitats such as moist and swamp forests, dry and moist shrublands and grasslands, and a variety of wetlands.
This habitat is perfect for them as they mainly eat browse (the leaves and twigs of trees and shrubs), fruit and grasses. They have a special long snout called a proboscis. The proboscis is prehensile, which means they can use it to grasp food. Tapirs can reach food up to three metres from the ground by standing on their hind feet! This species also often goes to salt licks (a salt deposit) to seek important minerals.
The lowland tapir is considered vulnerable and the major threats they face include habitat loss, due to deforestation, unsustainable hunting for their meat, and competition with cattle. Lowland tapirs are officially and legally protected in many of the countries they are found in, but unfortunately laws against hunting are very rarely enforced.